On 10 March 1934, about a fortnight before this competition was set, the novelist and humourist Thomas Anstey Guthrie (b.1856) had died (see above). He wrote under the name F. Anstey (the result of a typographical error), and was a regular contributor to Punch, as well as a comic novelist (he seems to have stopped writing novels in the Edwardian decade. His best known novel is Vice Versa, but he had written a series of pieces called Voces Populi for Punch in the 1880s). Frank Sidgwick recalls an uncollected example of one of these, spoken by a ‘Hyde Park reciter’, who breaks off his tragic tale when he spots a penny in the grass:
Competitors are asked to continue for a further 12 and a half lines, bringing it ‘to a culmination’ or ‘a similar aposiopesis’.
One snag was that, when the competition was set, there was a misprint in the last line, which finished ‘I .. to ..’ This apparently threw some of the thirty entrants (one of whom sent in two). Sidgwick spends a long time analysing what he expects. As he sees it, ‘maddened ‘orses’ are redolent of the Wild West’, until we come to the word ‘buttercups’ . He goes on to deconstruct almost all the entries, and, as I can’t give a proper flavour of his commentary by summary, here’s an extract:
W.N.G. is the winner, but loses a half-guinea so that both E.W.Fordham and A.H. Grant can be runners-up.