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. 180A and 180B: results

For the first time a competitor is given a second shot at being a judge – the honour falls, of course, to Seacape. He firstly asks for a ‘main clause or clauses’ of a Better England Act, 1933. As with the previous week, there seems less space given over to the report, although this may be because not many quite get the idea of parodying the language of parliamentary law (not many lawgivers, as Seacape remarks). Both of the winners here seem to me very skilled, although the newbie who picks up the second prize, Redling, is really parodying the language of legal documents relating to land. The downbeat nature of this competition is a combination of Seacape (a laconic) and the dry irony of the winners: H.C.M. and Redling, as noted. Seacape remarks that the word ‘etc.’ never been seen in a parliamentary act.



The B competition asks for a requiem, for anything, in eight lines. Everyone channels their inner Georgian, and the winners are Rosellen Bett and Marion Peacock:


Competition no. 175: results

Just one competition this week (prizes: two, one and two half-a-guineas). It’s set by Gerald Bullett. He wants a nursery rhyme (maximum 16 lines) that has the homely air of having been written by accident. This a clever, and I think, rather tough challenge. (Keeping the headful of old nursery rhymes at bay is the problem.)

There’s a large postbag and what Bullett describes as “a riot of  kings and cockleboats and hoppitty hoppitty wee wee men”, to the extent that he half-suspects a conspiracy. The nearest loser is W.A. Rathkey, who has his whole effort printed, as does Marion Peacock, who is just behind him in the queue (exasperating for the entrant when this happens!), but there are two clear winners, neither of whom have featured as also-rans, and neither of whom have remembered to send their addresses. The first is called Helen, the second is called Hazard.

Here is Helen’s:

The Seasons

A maid in a green frock,
A queen in a gold,
A hunter in russet,
A ghost in a shroud.

I stood on a hill
And I watched them come on,
But before O could stop them,
Behold they were gone.

I ran so fast to catch them,
But the green and gold went free,
The fellow in the white shroud,
He caught me.

You may well feel that this is quite twee, but I have to say I think it’s ambitious in avoiding an exact rhyme-scheme, and it’s easy to remember, too – crucial.

Here is Hazard’s:

The Baker

When Jack the Baker made his bread,
He set the dough o’er night,
And on the board above the trough,
He slept till morning light.

He made his bed upon the board
That rested on the dough,
And when the bread began to rise,
The baker did also.


Terrible! Truly terrible! What was Bullett thinking of?! He’s Jack in Part 1 but not in Part 2. The b rhyme in the second verse is really foolish. The only thing it’s got going for it is the double sense of ‘rise’. (I’ve also never seen o’er used for over as in night, but that may be because I have led a sheltered life.) But there we are, it’s given Hazard a guinea.

The two runners-up are W. Leslie Nicholls and Rosellen Bett.





It’s a curious competition. Bullett is a children’s writer and might be presumed to know what he is doing, but I wouldn’t have chosen Hazard or Bett (anything that rhymes with ‘dilly’ would be straight out).

Competitions nos. 169A and 169B: results

Say what you like about Frank Sidgwick, he constructs very off-the-wall competitions. The A competition here is intended to be both a parody of the proceedings of an academic discussion, and also a shot at solving a grammatical problem. He wants the minutes of the discussion between Dean, Bursar and Fellows of a College on an agenda item that runs ‘It is proposed to empower the Council to temporarily suspend vacant Fellowships’. (Apparently this was an actual item on an actual agenda, although Sidgwick won’t say where. The problem appears to be the split infinitive, until you start solving the split infinitive, at which point you start running into other problems. Sidgwick doesn’t think it’s a problem, splitting infinitives, and points out that it was only in 1893 and in America that it became an issue. (Fowler is very happy for some infinitives to be split.) But of course, it doesn’t end there. How do you suspend something that is vacant, for instance?

Only James Henderson, the winner, actually produces a set of minutes, but James Hall, whose entry is dialogue pure and simple, is allowed in because it amuses. (Nearly a fifth of the entrants wound up the debate by suggesting that they all retire for drinks!)


The B competition is to write a sonnet of any kind, but with the lines using the meter of ”Tis the voice of the sluggard,’ I heard him complain’. He gets thirty-one sonnets (and only one is discounted as not a sonnet, although there is some elaborate stuff about whether an octet/sestet principle is appropriate, and T.E. Casson is noted as having sent in fourteen and a bit lines. In the end, he cuts the footling and gives the prizes to Rosellen Bett and Issachar.


Competitions nos 115A and 115B: results

Martin Armstrong reappears as the judge, so we know there’s some foreign language in store. He returns us to the Royal Academy exhibition, and suggests that the general question is ‘Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galere’, with particular reference to Walter Richard Sickert, who was causing a considerable rumpus that year, not least with this use of photography. If you click here you’ll get a good sense of what he was up to at this stage of 1932 (although this particular work wasn’t in the 1932 exhibition). Armstrong (not at all unlike Squire a couple of weeks earlier) wants three six-lined rhymed verses, the last line on which is ‘But what is Sickert doing in this gallery?’


One competitor found nine rhymes for ‘gallery’ (Experienta docet, sighs Armstrong). However, he has no hesitation in returning Seacape to the podium, with James Hall in close proximity.



For the B competition, Armstrong asks for a translation of a Voltaire fable ….


The winners are Fontanist (a new name) and Rosellen Bett. There was a huge response to this one – compelling Armstrong to draw lots to make his decision.


Competitions nos. 89A and 89B: results

Martin Armstrong (for this competition will wind up in the first December issue) sets the task of writing a poem, 12 lines long, either on or to a Christmas Rose, pointing out that for a rose, winter is summer and vice versa. (The B competition is to be a parody of three verses of ‘Maud’.) But the very mention of a Christmas Rose, remarks Armstrong, has thrown all the competitors into a state in which they are lyrical and humourless. He scraps the B competition, thinking perhaps that the competitors think Tennyson too sacred, which he doesn’t; in fact, he admits disliking ‘Maud’ very much.. Even Seacape is slapped down. Instead, he redistributes the money to create extra prizes, and there are four Christmas Rose poems. He doesn’t say how he distributes the money, but there are two guineas left for the three runners-up, so I’m assuming it was split into three by 13s 6d.

The first two into the winner’s enclosure are new names, with crisp Georgian poems. The first, Rosellen Bett, was 26 or 27, and the daughter of a fleet surgeon (possibly the fleet surgeon); the second is one Peri Cotgrave, whose gender I’m not sure about, but whose poetry collection The Little Centaur  (I presume for children) was published in 1936. The other two spots go to old hands: Valimus and Yury.