Martin Armstrong is being quite brutal with the rhyme-scheme here: ABAB BABA ABABA. But perhaps it’s predictable that the first competition would be self-referential. The B competition could be set today (perhaps should be set for aspiring writers!)
Presumably Lester Ralph is hoping here for some satirical Marlovian comment on Beaverbrook or Rothermere or both. The length allowed is generous by 21st century standards: 20 lines! 2oo words! There is something particularly strange about the B competition – is this a satire on short hair (on women) that has somehow merged with tails and ears?
Competition 3A is presumably sparked by the discovery of Pluto on February 18th 1930, so it’s more topical than it might first appear. The man in Competition 3B, William Willett, had died at the age of 58, just one year before his campaign for British Summer Time came in – in 1916. Gerald Bullet was one of the editorial team.
J.C.Squire was a pivotal figure of the literary world, and had been New Statesman’s first literary editor. Nouns of assembly for novelists seem fine, but Jews? The list of possibilities seems to say a lot about the class to which Squire belonged, although ‘hedgehogs’ is innocent enough.
One gets the impression that T(homas) Earle Welby thinks we have had it too easy so far!
C.H.Rolph would recognise the spirit of the second competition here. Lynd was a stickler for grammar, and Rolph finds himself, when writing about Lynd, suddenly conscious that he would have been ticked off – as Rolph writes, “[his] soft-spoken Irish mannerisms would, as theysay, charm the birds out of the trees. Coupled with his droll literary style and comic percipience (‘you can’t couple three things,’ he would have told me), this went far to support my private estimation that most of our best writers have come from Ireland.”
Set by Clennell Wilkinson
Follow this link for Comp VIII results Comp VIII
Seeing another translation exercise to do does indicate that readers are expected to be up on their languages. No Latin translation has been set in at least 35 years and even longer – although Derek Mahon did set a French translation competition in the late eighties.
In April 1930, Robert Bridges had died, and – rather surprisingly, as Kipling was thought to be the likely successor, John
Masefield had been chosen (by George V, although effectively Ramsay Macdonald)
19B had its origins in a protracted exchange in the letters column of the WR about the number
of Geralds writing in the WR