J.C.Squire – I have a weakness for his competitions, and especially for this one (there is just one) – refers us to a Victorian cod-ballad, ‘Miss Ellen Gee’, which was published in 1828. (It is not accredited to any particular writer, but Thomas Hood is on the editorial board of The New Monthly, the periodical in which it first appeared, and I can’t believe it’s not him.) Here it is:
(There is an article on ’emblematic verse’ like this here. You might also like this anonymous poem printed in The Massachussets Teacher in 1861:)
Adjudication is hard. He has to cut out T.E. Casson and William Bliss for using Greek symbols and punctuation marks ‘which weren’t asked for’ – yes but they weren’t prohibited! Not for the first time, I feel sorry for have-a-go Casson. ‘Lester Ralph’s ingenuity almost gave me a headache. M.M. Bush’s ingenuity almost fractured my skull.’ An entrant called Dorothy Eccles writes entirely in letters (a kindred spirit!). Her pluck is admired; so is Marion Peacock, so is Black Gnat’s and so is E.W. Fordham’s. One of the commended is Evelyn Bowers. I strongly suspect that this is Dorothy Bowers’ (see 148A) sister. The Bowers sisters were interestingly fond of the writing of Naomi Royde-Smith.
More and more get mentioned, with W. Hodgson Burnet named as the closest not to win. As Squire points out, those who aimed for the greatest coup were the ones most likely to fail. The winners are L.V.Upward and a new name, Nilap, which is Palin backwards and one does wonder ‘is it a relative?’ (Michael not Sarah). Upward acknowledges a poem (I take it) called ‘A Patient’, but I don’t know it. Can anyone help?