Painting of Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton by Henry William Pikersgill. Lord Bulwer-Lytton is the moving spirit behind a little thumb-in-cheek literary contest, the Bulwer Purple Prose Project in the tiny hamlet of Bulwer, Quebec, Canada. (National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 1277)
In 2013, a new literary contest saw the dark of night – “a dark and stormy night!” It’s the Bulwer Purple Prose Project, headquartered in the Bulwer Community Centre, Bulwer, Quebec.
Although Bulwer has been swallowed up by the Cookshire-Eaton Municipality, its spirit lives on in the Community Centre, and finds expression in 19th century purple prose of the most convoluted and humorous kind. The Bulwer Purple Prose Project is a quirky literary contest that bestows Grand Pittances upon the winning first sentences to the worst novel ever, in six different categories, they being Adventure, Crime/Mystery, Fantasy, Legends, Local History, and Romance.
Wretched writers are welcome to submit just one sentence – the opening sentence to the worst novel ever. Entries are due between now and Apri 18, 2015. The awards supper is to be on May 2, 2015.
The project is named after Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. So is the tiny village of Bulwer, about 15 kilometres east of Lennoxville.
The story is that Lord Bulwer stopped at the Williams Corner train station in the mid 1800s. The villagers promptly re-baptised their busy intersection after him.
In those days, Lord Bulwer was a British politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also an immensely popular novelist. He made a fortune writing penny novels, says Wikipedia. In 1830, he authored the famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Those words began the opening sentence of his novel, Paul Clifford.
Here’s Lord Bulwer’s complete sentence – all 58 words of it:
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
– Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, in Paul Clifford (1830)
For the purposes of your edification on matters relating to the Bulwer Purple Prose Project, and so that you may gaze upon the pictures born of our illustrious awards repast and peruse the writings of purple pens from both far and wide; we give you these pages, hoping that you will enjoy, most thoroughly, the ingenuity of our esteemed, albeit wretched writers.
Herein you will find:
An outstanding omnibus of purple prose for readers to feast their eyes upon (and use as fodder for thought, or inspiration, perhaps), as they prepare for a new year of literary larks and playful penning of yet more purple prose. (EXHIBITION SENTENCES)
The Rules and the Modus Operandi, simply put. (HOW TO SUBMIT)
A collection of the purplest of the prose that was shared with us in years past, which merited the prestigious Pittances bestowed at the grand Bulwer Community Centre in such a beneficent manner. (PITTANCE WINNERS PAST)
A modest collection of images, both colourful and clear, that share with you a vision of the spirit of the grand celebratory events which culminated the Bulwer Purple Prose literary contests in past years, emanating from Bulwer, Quebec. (PHOTO GALLERY)
Accounts of the Purple Prose Awards Suppers and festivities in Bulwer, Quebec, that is to say, from the two Springs past, 2013 and 2014, which are most truthful and exact. (NEWS RELEASES)
How to reach us. (CONTACT US)
Welcome, Wretched Writers! Whip out your purple pen and shoot your entries to us by email.
Grand Note of Gratitude: The Bulwer Purple Prose Project is frankly derivative of the grand-daddy of all purple prose literary contests, The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. It is the brainchild of Professor Scott Rice at the San Jose State University in California. Professor Rice has graciously given us the nod to do our own little thing in tiny Bulwer, Quebec.