The winner of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, the XXXIVth Lyttoniad, is William "Barry" Brockett of Tallahassee, Florida, a 55-year-old building contractor who has specialized in additions, home makeovers, and bathroom/kitchen remodels for about twenty years. His particular enjoyment is reading, with true crime and the "hardboiled" genre being his favorites, hence his winning entry.
Conceived to honor the memory of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton and to encourage unpublished authors who do not have the time to actually write entire books, the contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Bulwer was selected as patron of the competition because he opened his novel "Paul Clifford" (1830) with the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night." Lytton’s sentence actually parodied the line and went on to make a real sentence of it, but he did originate the line "The pen is mightier than the sword," and the expression "the great unwashed." His best known work, one on the book shelves of many of our great-grandparents, is "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), an historical novel that has been adapted for film multiple times.
As has happened every year since the contest went public in 1983, thousands of entries poured in not just from the United States and Canada but from such locales as England, Wales, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Botswana, and New Caledonia (see the Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award).
Sticks and Stones (a “new” contest, last updated August 2010)
Suite.101.com interviews 2008 Winner Garrison Spik (August 16, 2008)
Suite.101.com interviews the Grand Panjandrum (August 16, 2008)
Mariann Simms, BLFC winnr, writes about the contest in her blog. (April 2006)
Celine Shinbutsu: Fantasy Category winner’s blog from Japan.
“The Great Bulwer-Lytton Debate” (Manchester Guardian)
Bulwer-Lytton’s Bicentennial Birthday Celebration at Knebworth House. With pictures. (May 20-23, 2003)
Literary Locales: Over 1,350 picture links to places that figure in the lives and writings of famous authors
“Dark and Stormy Night Cocktail” from the Swig Bar in San Francisco: Pour ginger beer into a highball glass and top with Zaya rum.