Martin Armstrong sets no. 76, and he obviously considers it a hard one, as he sets only one competition, with first and second prizes of three guineas and one guinea respectively. And an odd competition it is (there is a harder one due shortly, though!).
The rubric reads “There is a regrettable omission in Book IV of Paradise Lost, for in the description of Adam and Eve retiring for the night, there is no reference to toothbrushing … [please provide] twelve lines in the appropriate metre and style, describing Eve engaged in this necessary operation.” It’s hard to work out why toothbrushing was suddenly so supposedly potentially funny, but I suspect that there was more advertising, and this is what has triggered Armstrong’s odd competition. Colgate had floated on the American stock exchange in 1930, so it was getting to be bigger business. And here is an advert from 1931:
The standard Armstrong reports is apparently very high, and Armstrong apologises for having accidentally overlooked that there was a toothpaste called Milton, which has elicited puns in a couple of entries.
The winner, last seen in the competition columns as a loser in Competition no. 1, is Edward Marsh, the patron of the Georgian poets preferred by the literary wing of The Week-end Review, the editor of several volumes of Georgian poetry, the literary executor of Rupert Brooke, and someone whose connections in the literary world can only have been matched by Lady Ottoline Morrrell. His wealth – part of it inherited on his mother’s side from a government stipend paid to the descendants of the only British prime minister to be assassinated (Spencer Perceval in 1812) – supported many young writers, including D.H.Lawrence.
The runner-up is W. Sterne.