Returning after a while, Vita Sackville-West says she regrets that H. W. Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage hasn’t included, for example, a section on ‘purple prose’. She asks for a section of 600 (600!!!) words that might get into a future edition. Fowler – Henry Watson Fowler – had published his book in 1926, and had died in 1933, i.e. a year earlier.
In her adjudication, Sackville-West wonders if she’s not been clear enough. All but four entrants ignore the ‘for example’ and produce entries on ‘purple prose’ or ‘purple patch’ (one of the runners-up is Allan M. Laing on ‘Americanisms’, which, alas, is overlooked). Fowler is not at all easy to parody – he is scholarly and subversive, and a great read.