Competitions nos. 102A and 102B: results

Martin Armstrong returns with a poem by Pietro Mastri for translation into strict sonnet form (type not specified) or using the original:


Mastri, who was born in 1868, had died on 20 February 1932 – that is, just as Armstrong was due to set a competition. His real name was Pirro Masetti – i.e. his poetic name was an anagram. I can’t find any record of his having been translated into English.


The winners are A.W., and Barbara Barclay Carter. It’s not surprising that the latter was in the running, even if Armstrong berates the entry as tame, since she had learned Italian in the last year of university, and she was the translator of  the writings of a prominent Italian anti-Fascist exile, Luigi Sturzo, the leader of the Italian Popular Party, with whom she shared a house. Born in 1900 (she died in 1951), she was half Anglo-Irish and half American, but grew up in England.  She converted to Catholicism in 1921. She also wrote a novel woven around the figure of Dante, which was published in 1929. Her later work included scholarly studies of Italian writers, and all her work has Italy as its focus. She wrote for the Manchester Guardian, and had been the only English journalist at the Savona trial in 1927 – which was a political trial against Italian democratic socialists (there is reference here in a short biography of Pertini).


Barbara Barclay Carter

Here are the winners:


The rather essay-like instruction for 102B runs “‘A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand’ shows a much noble and more adventurous attitude to life than ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. You have to write an epigram ’embodying this statement’. Hmm. Not much fun. The adjudication offers advice on the epigram, and goes on to add that the competition clearly asked for direct reference to the proverb (which it didn’t). The winners are W. Snow and Alice Herbert:


However, that’s not all in this issue. Ciel, a reasonably regular winner and entrant (one prize already in 1932) has died, and below the competition, an epitaph is printed by a fellow-competitor, with a note: here it is –


Competitions nos 98A and 98B: results

For this, the one hundredth edition of The Week-end Review, a new judge, Eric Gillett, a literary and film critic, mainly at The Daily Telegraph, and who had also just edited a collection of contemporary poetry, sets a ballade on the circus, with reference to performing animals. Circuses were popular – there was a Clark Gable film in 1932 called Polly at the Circus, and the front cover of Time magazine in April 1932 depicted a circus:

Time cover 1932Gillett has a slight moan about ‘surprising lapses in scansion’, and (as always happens with ballade competitions) several entrants have sent in ballads. The winner, who is admiited despite his ballade being more about the animals than the circus, is E.W.Fordham, and, keeping up the pressure, the half-guinea goes to Seacape.




The B competition is pretty demanding, asking for a 300 word essay on ‘The Cruelty Of Inanimate Objects’. One of the many proxime accessits in the B competition is John Barnicot, one of Barbara Pym’s Oxford friends, whom she fictionalised in her first novel Some Tame Gazelle (1933); others are regulars like Marion Peacock. Gillett notes that he could compile ‘a ghastly gallery’ of objects from the entries, ranging from The Albert Memorial to pea soup, The prizes go to W. Snow, and to a new name, R. P. Gunningham.


Although Barry and his team do not of course know it, the one hundredth issue marks the halfway mark in The Week-end Review’s existence. When we get to competition 200, we’ll find it set in one magazine, and won in another …

Competitions 21A and 21B: results

The setter, George Blake – his second time – has set one competition for a rhymed “address to a Press Baron on his Being Elevated to a Still Higher Rank in the Peerage” (with an injunction that he be ‘imaginary”, as the scope for libel being encouraged is obviously considerable – and this is the WR’s second pot-shot at press barons, of whom Rothermere – the Mail and Mirror owner, and Beaverbrook – the Express and Evening Standard proprietor – were pre-eminent); and one competition for an epigram in verse or prose on “A British Heavyweight”.

The competitors have duly risen to the challenge, but Blake slags them off for using bludgeons rather than rapiers. T.E. Casson is once again – he still hasn’t won – picked out as a notable loser, with Glenda Graham and James Hall coming closer. But the winner, a regular, is H.C.M. with this:


Thereis no second prize.

As for 21B, boxing was in the doldrums in 1930 – there was no world heavyweight champion in the 1930 for financial reasons – and in Britain, a few top boxers had been making a habit of being knocked out early (in Jack Bloomfield’s case, earlier in the 1920s, in suspicious circumstances). The British title-holder at the time the competition was set was Phil Scott, and he had only weeks earlier suffered a technical knockout at the hands of Young Stribling. There’s a newsreel here of Scott being knocked out in two rounds within a year of this competition. So no witty paeans were expected.

Among the best known boxers in the 1920s were brothers Jack and Joe Bloomfield, both of whom had held a heavyweight title (then as now, there were a variety). Jack had retired in ignominy after a notorious early knockout (i.e. he went down). Joe was still active, but was in the middle of a series of defeats. (In 1928, he and another boxer had had their match declared null and void by the referee because they weren’t doing their best!)

Jack and Joe Bloomfield

Joe and Jack Bloomfield

In the event Blake, pausing to commend a variety of entrants, but including L.V.Upward, who was to stick at the competitions for a good few years, he splits the one-and-a-half guineas three ways, between O.H.T. Dudley, W. Snow, and the often-present James Hall, successful in this competition where he’s come close in the other –


O.H.T. Dudley was Oscar Hugo Thornton Dudley, born in 1877 in Staffordshire, and a man who had spent about a quarter-of-a-century as a leading inspector of schools in India, until at least the early 1920s. His family were clergy – his father was the vicar of Ticehurst in Sussex, and his great-uncle had been the chaplain on one of the first four ships that took settlers to New Zealand in 1850. I suspect he was retired by this time: he was a literary scholar on the side, and erudite articles about, for instance, Jane Austen and Keats were published in scholarly journals just before and during the existence of the WR.