The Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest is held ever year at San Jose State Univ. by Professor Scott Rice. It is held in memory of Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), a rather prolific and popular (in his time) novelist. He is best known today for having written "The Last Days of Pompeii." Whenever Snoopy starts typing his novel from the top of his doghouse, beginning "It was a dark and stormy night..." he is borrowing from Lord Bulwer-Lytton. This was the line that opened his novel, "Paul Clifford," written in 1830. The full line reveals why it is so bad: 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.
This page was last modified on 2013 March 28.