V.S.Pritchett sets his first competition in New Statesman, where he was to become such a regular and familiar figure. We are to assume that, five thousand years in the future, civilisation has been wiped out, and a barbarian archaeologist has reconstructed London Life from evidence found on the Crystal Palace site – including
Stopes’s book created the most comment, and Pritchett notes that most seemed to see Crystal Palace as likely to have been part of a centre for religious rites – e.g. the ‘Convert of the Immaculate Contraception’ and also puns based on the brand of tobacco, Three Nuns.
Several entrants, notes Prittchett, make the mistake of being too satirical. He plumps for the one who seems to make the best archaeologist. He lights upon Stuart Piggott, who has won once before – as the runner up to 16B in 1930. And he was already making huge strides as an archaeologist. At this point he was working for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. The second prize goes to J. Stewart Cook. Cook was a scientist who became well-known for his letters to to a number of papers, including New Scientist, but also Tribune – a letter from Cook was the trigger for George Orwell’s article ‘What is Science?’, which you can read here. Cook lived in Windsor, and was president of the Scientific Film Association between 1952 and 1954. (His entry is interesting in that it collapses Mosley and Rothermere into an all-purpose anti-semite.)