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Awards for authors asking aid: The Home Forum Competition

August 27, 1984

Today's awards go back to the news that Britain's Royal Literary Fund finally made its files public. Now we know that many bygone writers received assistance (Coleridge, 10 guineas). Our midsummer competition invited you to suppose you were a bygone author and to write an aid application of no more than 100 words in that author's style.

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Some promising candidates were late or too long. Some failed to be bygone authors, as specified, but applied in their own names. Applicants ranged from nine Shakespeares and five Dickinsons to many other familiar authors and a few unexpected ones, such as Sylvester Graham of cracker fame. Certificates to: I wrote my letter to the World And did it all for free - There yet dwell verses in my Brain That long for Liberty

But I cannot sup upon the Air Like Flower or spreading Tree - So if it desires more of my Fare The World must pay my Fee.

Emily Dickinson, c/o Helen Lewis, Seattle

I have not yet received funds from the publication of my recent work and find myself in need of a small sum, which I will certainly reimburse you at the earliest opportunity. Among the physical needs your funds will succor will be a pound of serviceable tea, and a pair of sensible shoes. Among the spiritual needs will be tinned sweets for the upcoming meeting of the Ladies Brass Polishing Society, which the Vicar plans to attend. If anyone should be more in need of these funds than I, please make this grant to them in my stead.

Miss Barbara Pym, c/o Kathleen O. Flynn, San Francisco

I turned the cheap hotel key in the lock, and entered a room only slightly improved by the neon glow through the window. I threw my bags down and lit a cigarette. I still had the newspaper I bought on the train, and if I was any judge, I'd be using it tonight to swat the vermin in this rathole. I figured I'd get started on the slaughter, when I noticed your item on the back page. Seeing as how I wouldn't be in this joint if it weren't for ''The Maltese Falcon,'' I guess I qualify. Where's the catch?

Dashiell Hammett, c/o Kim R. Stangl, San Bernardino, Calif. Hereby make I a pleade with soule so merrie For funds to journie to olde Canterbury That I might ryde with pilgrims, all disguised, And note the tales that each doth fynde most prized. To record wordes of miller, monk, and squire; Pardoner, too, as well as knight and friar Whose themes will baffle students centuries hence. Myself could journie far for but few pence, But pryce of quill and inke doth give me awe, Sir. Please hasten now ye cheque to

Geoffrey Chaucer, c/o John S. Hocker, Cave Junction, Ore.

When deeply debted, fortuneless, all wise Provisions gone; when Anne seeks cottage new; When foolscap lacks, ink's short, quills numb, and

cries For inspiration merit Muses' rue; I note fond patron's grant, and taking stock, My mind's eye paints a whole Roof on The Globe! Sees bodkins barely bought brought back from hock! Queen's coinage clanking pockets o' m'robe! If begging's due, then beg begets ambition, Ambition purpose, purpose this proposes: All un-Macbethlike, trumpeting Fruition, To rewrite Lear, line fresh Acts hailing Roses. With goodly aid like yours thus justly taken, 'Twill mean Roast Beefe, forget the lesser Bacon!

William Shakespeare, c/o Norman Cary, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. If you could read what thus far I have written

If you could see the research I have done If you could picture the completion -

This latest group of verses just begun. If you could see our far-flung empire heeding

My battle cry for unity and peace If you should feel these verses will contribute

Surely you will not wish this work to cease. If you could pressure the Exchequer

For an annual sum the Treasury can afford Ours is the Earth and everything that's in it

Me Poet Laureate and you a Queen, adored.