The Bulwer Purple Prose Project
“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 one brief shining moment in the eighteen-hundreds, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC, English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician (yes, it was he who penned the famous lines above!) descended from the train at a tiny crossroads dubbed Williams Corners, situated in the wilds of the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.
May we, dear reader, presume that this descent into Williams Corners occurred before February 20, 1844? For that is the date on which the then Lord Bulwer, born May 25, 1803, assumed his mother’s maiden name by royal license, to become known thereafter as Lord Bulwer-Lytton.
So marked were the Williams Corner villagers by Lord Bulwer’s grand descent that the village was forthwith re-baptised Bulwer.
Today Bulwer is a pastoral landscape, just a few furlongs below Birchton and above the Johnville Bog. A tunnel of trees leads up to a loose collection of houses. The train no longer stops at Bulwer, but cars bring people from afar to its nerve centre, the Bulwer Community Centre. And on February 2, 2013, Lord Bulwer’s spirit will live again in Bulwer, conjured up by the Bulwer Purple Prose Project.
For Lord Bulwer, our Prince of Purple Prose, is renowned for his felicitous turns of phrase. “The great unwashed.” “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And, most a propos to the Bulwer Purple Prose Project, “Talent does what it can: Genius does what it must.”