Tuesday, 6 October 2015

At last, your chance to do the 2015 Chiswick Book Festival Anniversaries quiz - it'll make your brain hurt

The answer to one of the questions
The annual Chiswick Book Festival took place last month (I warned you all about it here) - and it was, as it usually is, a roaring success. For the past few years, as one of the fund-raising activities surrounding the event, I’ve been asked to come up with a literary quiz which attendees can enter for a pound (or three, or five - it seems to change every year). They’re given a few weeks to complete it, the marks are totted up, and the winner is awarded a prize - usually a book or books donated by a publisher or local bookshop. The first time we did this, back in 2010, the quiz was held as a running accompaniment to a dinner. It fell into abeyance for a couple of years, but was revived in paper form in 2013, when the subject was James Bond. I did a First World War literary quiz last year, and this year I was asked to go with literary anniversaries, because 2015 is stuffed with them.

I’ve heard reports from people who enjoyed doing it - so, even though it's too late to win (the deadline for entries was last week), here’s your chance to establish your cultural credentials by breezing through it in the time it would take you to complete the Times crossword (in my case. eternity).

There are one or two nods towards populism (for instance, the first three questions concern the works of J.K. Rowling, with which you might understandably be unfamiliar), but the rest of the quiz is fairly hardcore. Each question is worth one point (except where stated otherwise), there are 40 questions in total, and 60 points up for grabs.  If you want to find out how you fared, there's a link to the answers at the bottom of the quiz. If you spot any mistakes (and there are always one or two) please keep it to yourself - it’s too late to do anything about it. Good luck!

Chiswick Book Festival Literary Anniveraries Quiz

50 Years Ago

1. J.K. Rowling was born 50 years’ ago. Harry Potter recently turned 35 – give the day and month of his birth.

2. Which professional quiddich team does Ginny Weasley go on to play for?

3. Name the three people in one of J.K. Rowling’s non-Harry Potter novels who posted as The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother.

4. Give the two names of the substance which turns eyes blue in an award-winning 1965 science fiction novel.

5. Which beloved soap opera star was killed on stage for the first time in 1965 and on film in 1968?

6. Somerset Maugham died 50 years ago. Name the source – work and author – from which the following titles were taken (one point for each answer):

Of Human Bondage

Cakes and Ale 

The Painted Veil 

7. Which real people were the following Maugham characters (allegedly) based on?  (one point for each answer)

Oliver Haddo in The Magician

Charles Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence 

Ashenden in Ashenden: Or the British Agent

8. Which obscure 1965 American literary novel became a UK bestseller in 2013?

9. In which 1965 novel did a young Englishman take a teaching job on the fictional Greek island of Phraxos? And what was the real island on which Phraxos was based?

75 Years Ago

10. When F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, he was writing a series of short stories for Esquire: name the “hero” of these stories, and his profession.

11. Give the title of Fitzgerald’s unfinished fifth novel, and the name of the man whose life it was supposedly based on. (One point for each answer)

12. At Fitzgerald’s funeral, Dorothy Parker reportedly murmured, “the poor son-of-a-bitch”. Of which Fitzgerald character had the same been said at his funeral?

13. Which much-loved English writer living in tax exile in France was interned by the Germans as an enemy alien?

14. Give the title of the 1940 novel from which this is taken:
 “Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.”

15. A John Donne poem and The Lord’s Prayer provided the titles for two famous novels published in 1940: name them (one point for each answer).

16. Graham Greene’s Clapham Common house was bombed during the Blitz. In which of Greene’s novel is the main character’s flat also destroyed by a German bomb?

17. “Number One” was a sinister presence in a novel published in 1940. Which real figure did he represent, and what was the title of the novel?

18. “Lord, put beneath Thy special care…” Give the address specified in this poetic plea.

100 Years Ago

19. The author of a famous thriller published in 1915 described it as his first “shocker”. Name the book.

20. Name the other four novels in which the dashing hero of No. 19 is the main character.

21. Here are the openings of four novels or novellas published in 1915. In each case, give the title of the book and its author (one point for each answer):

 “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

“The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire.”

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”

“As the streets that lead from the Strand to the Embankment are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers' clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.”

22. The opening line of a poem published 100 years ago starts with this quotation from an earlier poem: “S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse”. Name the earlier poem.

23. Three named figures appear in the 1915 poem alluded to in the previous question: give them.

24. A play by a noted American playwright born in 1915 received its first-ever staging earlier this year. Name the play, the playwright, and the town where it was performed.

25. Rupert Brooke died in 1915. His poem “Tiara Tahiti” provides the title for an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Name the novel.

26. Born in 1915, this Canadian-born writer won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature and a host of other awards. Name him.

150 Years Ago

27. W.B. Yeats was born 150 years ago. Which Bedford Park house did his parents rent in 1879?

28. Below are acronyms for the opening lines of four celebrated Yeats poems. Give the titles. (one point for each answer):





29. Alice in Wonderland was published 150 years ago. On which river was the story born in July 1862?

30. Give the original title of Alice in Wonderland and the dedication on the handwritten copy presented to Alice Liddell in 1864.

31. Lewis Carroll went on to invent the term “portmanteau” to describe new words blended from two existing words: what two words did he use to form (one point for each answer):

A. “mimsy”

B.  “slithy”

C. “frumious”

32. Rudyard Kipling was born 150 years ago. Here are acronyms for the last lines of five of his best-known poems. Name the poems. (one point  for each answer):






200 Years Ago

33. Which fictional magician helped defeat Napoleon at The Battle of Waterloo (1815) earlier this year in the TV damatisation of a 2004 novel?

34. For which fictional hero did Waterloo mark his eleventh appearance in a novel, but his 22nd adventure chronologically?

35. In which novel by which famous detective story writer do we learn how the Brigadier “bore himself” at the battle?

36. “Darkness came down on the field and the city; and xxxxx was praying for xxxxx, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart.” Who is praying for whom in this classic Victorian “novel without a hero”?

37. In a celebrated English novel published in 1815, which characters are being quoted (one point for each answer):

“She has a fault. She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.”

“I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I would much rather have been merry than wise.”

38. Anthony Trollope was born 200 years ago. Which iconic item is he credited with introducing to Britain?

39. During a visit to which cathedral did Trollope conceive the plot of the first of his Barsetshire novels?

40. Name the Trollope novel whose publication in serial form concluded in 1865, and give the title of the series of six novels of which it was the first.

That's it. If you want to see how you got on, the answers are to be found on the Festival website, here.

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