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Portrait of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton by Henry William Pickersgill

The pen is mightier than the sword.
Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton


Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to the worst novel never written. Our whimsical literary competition honors Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.”


The contest receives thousands of entries each year, and every summer our Panel of Undistinguished Judges convenes to select winners and dishonorable mentions announced in August.

Our 2023 Grand Prize Winner


"She was a beautiful woman; more specifically she was the kind of beautiful woman who had an hourlong skincare routine that made her look either ethereal or like a glazed donut, depending on how attracted to her you were."


We're laughing and hungry! Chosen from over 6000 entries, the winner of the 41st(!) Annual Lyttoniad is Maya Pasic of New York, New York.

When our champion isn't busy working at Penguin Random House, you'll find her knitting, listening to Balkan folk music, and, of course, prowling local bookstores. A true noble Bulwerier. Congratulations, Maya!

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