23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 66

No. 1706: The Retort Courteous

As a letter-writer Henry James was ex- quisitely polite as well as prolix. But how would his epistolary manners have coped with an invitation to lunch from such an unlikely source as Mr Barnum, Madame Blavatsky or Horatio Bottomley? Please confine your Jamesian reply to the person of your choice to 150 words. Entries to 'Competition No. 1706' by 6 December.