Honours Board 1933

This year we can run to a top twenty (just). L.V.Upward (who is to feature for many years to come) is the first to claim Seacape’s crown, although not quite equal the number of his victories. The numbers at the end are previous placings. As the race for third, seventh and tenth place show, this was a close and far more even outcome than the previous three years.

1.    L.V.Upward              8 victories        £11.0s.0d     (-,9=,8=)

2.   E.W.Fordham           7 victories        £8.8s.0d       (6,-,-)

3=      William Bliss          9 victories       £7.7s.0d        (5,-,-)

W.Leslie Nicholls      7 victories       £7.7s.0d        (-,-,-)

T.E.Casson                 7 victories        £7.7s.0d       (-,-,-)

Black Gnat            5 victories       £6.6s.0d      (-,-,-)

7= Guy Hadley         4 victories        £5.5s.0d       (-,-,-)

 Southron              5 victories       £5.5s.0d       (-,-,-)

Lester Ralph        3 victories       £5.5s.0d      (10=,-,-)

10=  James Hall         5 victories       £4.14s.6d     (3=,-,4)

Alice Herbert      3 victories      £4.14s.6d     (-,-,-)

Marion Peacock  4 victories     £4.14s.6d         (-,-,-)

Redling                 5 victories     £4.14s.6d       (-,-,-)

H.C.M.                   3 victories    £4.14s.6d        (-,-,3)

15=  N.B.                   4 victories    £4.4s.0d         (-,-,-)

W.A.Rathkey       3 victories       £4.4s.0d      (10=,-,-)

Eremita                 5 victories    £4.4s.0d        (10=,-,-)

P.S.C.                     2 victories    £4.4s.0d        (-,-,-)

Seacape                 2 victories   £4.4s.0d         (1,1,1)

20= Rosellen Bett        3 victories   £3.13s.6d       (-,-,-)

Prudence              2 victories   £3.13s.6d        (-,-,-)


A few points:

The major absentees are W.Hodgson Burnet, who won no prizes (but did judge a competition), and who died in the last month after what must have been a severe illness; Pibwob and Little Billee, both of whom managed three wins, and both of whom will return with a vengeance; W.G.; Valimus and Non Omnia.

Black Gnat and Seacape are one and the same, so if they had entered as one, they would have come equal second.

T.E.Casson, in his fourth year, has finally seen rewards for his persistent, weekly entries.

W. Leslie Nicholls is the major new name.

It will be interesting to see who decides to keep going when the WR is taken over by New Statesman and Nation. At least three of the above were still winning prizes in the 1950s.

In 1933, there were 90 winners (down from 114, perhaps a sign of failing circulation) who won £192 (down from just over £201 – not least because of several prizeless B comps). The number appearing behind initials had shrunk from 15 to 8, and the number of pseudonyms was down from 45 to 30. So 50% of the entrants are now providing their names.





Competitions nos. 185A and 185B: results

H.G. Wells is quoted by Ernest Betts as having said that ‘Luncheon parties for literary men may give way to lynching parties before my time is over.” (It was far from a flippant comment. He made the remark on his sixty-sixth birthday, 21 September 1933, in a speech attacking the loutish behaviour of Hitlerism.) But Betts sees some potential for a jape, and asks for a description of a Lynching party with names supplied. the competitors duly went to town with accounts, for instance, of J.H. Thomas (the Colonial Secretary in the National Government, and expelled from the Labour Party for sticking with MacDonald) being hanged with his own tie (he was known as an elegant dresser). Wells, Shaw, Belloc, Chesterton and Sir John Squire are the principal sufferers. In fact two of the best entrants, W. Leslie Nicholls and William Bliss, are so carried away that they over-shoot the word limit. P.S.C. grabs the guineas, and L.V. Upward adds another half-guinea to his mounting stash:


I like the drollery here. I am afraid the Bishop Narkover joke sails over my head; Ethel Mannin, however, was a radical writer and forceful political thinker who had written a very well-received account of the 1920s in 1930 (‘Impressions and Confessions’), and was to become the lover of W.B. Yeats in 1935 before marrying Reginald Reynolds, 176 of whose poems appeared in New Statesman.

The B competition emanates from the proposal that policemen be recruited from universities, and a police college established. Betts asks for a college song (the college was opened by the Prince of Wales at Hendon in May 1934, and closed at the outset of the war. It did not re-open until 1974, and closed again in 2007). He is so pleased that he prints three – by Peter Hadley (here’s his first win), W.E.B. Henderson and (although he gets no reward), W. J. Halliday:


Lord (Hugh) Trenchard, mentioned in all three printed entries,  had been the first head of the Royal Flying Corps, and was later Chief of the Air Staff. In the 1930s, he was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police:



Competitions nos. 178A and 178B: results

J.C. Squire – now of course Sir John Squire – sets a competition in which you are to write as Queen Victoria to Lord Beaconsfield (Disraeli) about Lytton Strachey’s book about her. It’s an odd choice, given that Strachey is only a year or so dead – and also given that Squire had just been knighted by her grandson! Victoria’s letters had started to be released not long after her death (oddly so, in that one can’t imagine it now, even if they were heavily censored) and were striking for their use of emphasis. Published exchanges between Disraeli and Victoria existed, but the point is to satirise Victoria’s style.

There are a few close also-rans, but a newbie, P.S.C. (commended for his use of italics) beats off N.B. to the guineas. They’re both skilful, but pointless, I think:


The B competition, however, is far more modern and blatantly political-satirical in intent, in that it asks for twenty lines either about the Government front bench OR the Opposition front bench. The Government consisted of Macdonald, a few other Labour MPs, the Conservatives, and the ‘National Liberals’. The opposition was a Labour rump. Neither was much admired by the entrants, but then they were to be represented in the style of Pope. The prize-winners are Yury and Little Billee.


They were to hear Attlee’s name again …


George Lansbury, leader of the 46 remaining Labour MPs. Attlee, his deputy, was to take over the next year. (He’s Angela Lansbury’s grandfather.)


The Prime Gyrator, is, of course, the hapless Macdonald. Faithless Philip is Snowden.

Here’s a picture of members of Macdonald’s extraordinary Cabinet taken after the 1931 election:

1931 cabinet

Left to right: Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister (Conservative), Neville Chamberlain (Conservative), Jimmy Thomas (Labour), Rufus Isaacs (Lord Reading) (Liberal, replaced by Sir John Simon within two months), and Samuel Hoare (Viscount Templewood) (Conservative). Front row (left to right): Philip Snowden (Labour, by 1933 ennobled and resigned), Stanley Baldwin (Conservative), Ramsay MacDonald (Labour), Herbert Samuel (Liberal) and Lord (Edward) Stanley (Conservative). It’s quite a selective group: by no means all the Cabinet (and Stanley was not at this point a member).

A little disdainfully, Squire finishes thus:

‘Good enough, but Strube does better than either.’


Strube was the highly-paid Daily Express cartoonist – Sidney Conrad Strube (1892-1956) – there’s a good article about him here. He had in fact produced a calendar just before Christmas 1932, for 1933, that proves Squire’s point:

Strube cartoon