Elizabeth Dorfman of Bainbridge Island, WA, is the 32nd grand prize winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest that that began at San Jose State University in 1982. The contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels and takes its name from the Victorian novelist George Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who began his Paul Clifford (1830) with “It was a dark and stormy night.“ Although Lytton did not originate the line, he exploited its familiarity to begin his novel, as have several other writers who followed him.
Betsy describes herself as “a former screenwriter and retired arts business owner [and] a fan of good writing, skeeball, Nordic Tug trawlers, tofu, Maine Coon cats, granddaughters, hoppy beer, hiking boots and black jelly beans.“
In keeping with the bignitude, high dignity, and general importance of the competition, the grand prize winner receives a pittance (about $150).
As has happened every year since the contest went public in 1983, thousands of entries poured and sometimes trickled in not just from the United States and Canada but from such countries as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Japan, Pakistan, and Brazil.
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.