Lucy Vickery


In Competition No. 2879 you were invited to follow in the footsteps of Hilary Mantel and provide a scene that shows a well-known villain from history or literature in an uncharacteristically kindly light.

Mantel has said that she was driven by a ‘powerful curiosity’ rather than by any desire to rehabilitate Cromwell. ‘I do not run a Priory clinic for the dead,’ she wrote, which is a nice way of putting it.

You plundered Dickens for baddies in need of a makeover — Fagin made repeated appearances alongside Daniel Quilp and Josiah Bounderby. Judas Iscariot and Dr Crippen were also popular choices. The standard was on the patchy side, but honourable mentions go to Carolyn Thomas-Coxhead, G.M. Davis, Barry Baldwin and Imke Thormählen.

D.A. Prince’s green-fingered Grendel pipped Basil Ransome-Davies’s touching portrait of Tricky Dicky at a moral crossroads to the extra fiver. Their fellow winners, printed below, pocket £30 apiece.

Beowulf blade-bearer, oath-owed to Heorot,
guest-guard against Grendel, giant and Geat slayer,
kenned keen the ghast-glarer, grim gorger on greatness,
knew him as death-dealer, hewer of heart-loss,
sought for him stealthy, sword scabbard-stayed.
Tracked him through sea-swamps, sullen and sodden,
found him deep-daisied, fresh fastness of flowers,
Grendel in ground-work, hoe-er of hollyhocks,
mulcher of marigolds, kind carer of campions.
Mind-vexed with vengeance, Beowulf bewildered
discovered no discord in Grendel as gardener,
groaned at dead-heading not Geats but geraniums,
digging out dock-roots not heroes of Heorot,
picking prize posies, much-marvelled for mother.
Beowulf heart-heavy, hides half from Hrothgar;
gold-gaining gets glory, tells triumph tales.
D.A. Prince/Grendel
Alone in the shadowy corridors of the Capitol, Richard searches his heart for the reasons why everyone hates him. Washington is a tough city to succeed in, he has never doubted that, but the competition for power, influence and — yes — money has raised vindictiveness to insane levels.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in