One of the great things about having a website is that occasionally people send me free stuff, out of the blue. For instance, a British publisher named Harriman House sent me three copies of The Life & Death of Rochester Sneath
by Humphry Berkeley. Since I don't have a use for three copies of the book, I've decided to give the two extra copies away.
But first, what is the book about? It documents a classic British public school hoax from the 1940s. Headmasters at elite British public schools such as Eton and Rugby began receiving letters from H. Rochester Sneath who described himself as a fellow Headmaster from Selhurst School nearth Petworth, Sussex. Sneath had many bizarre questions for his colleagues. For instance, he wanted to know how to deal with an infestation of rats, how to go about 'engineering' a royal visit, or whether it was advisable to provide special 'sex ed' instruction for the school maids. Remarkably, most of the headmasters believed that Sneath was a real person and responded seriously. Of course, Sneath wasn't real. He was the creation of Humphry Berkeley, who at the time was a student at Cambridge. When the hoax was exposed Berkeley was expelled for two years. This book collects together all of Sneath's letters and the responses he received. It's very short, taking about an hour to read, at most. But if you like British humor it's a classic, because Sneath perfectly skewers the pompous self-importance of the British upper class.
So here's what I have in mind. Since the book is about a school prank, post a description of a school prank in the comments section. Perhaps something that you participated in or have heard about. I'll choose the two pranks that I find the most amusing (and original) and send the winners a free copy of the book. Make sure that you include your email address in the appropriate box (though your email won't be publicly displayed
... only I can see when people have entered email addresses, so that spammers can't harvest addresses from this site), otherwise I won't have any way of notifying you if you win. I'll let the contest run for a week before I choose the winner.