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1001 Just William
Added on 08th August 2020

Author Richmal Crompton
First published 1922
Publisher George Newnes

The adventures of William Brown and his gang, The Outlaws


A series of short stories, Just William features a mischievous ten year boy, William Brown. William is eleven years old and likes white rats, boiled sweets and adventures out of door. He is aided in his adventures by his gang of schoolboy friends, The Outlaws, and thwarted by grown-ups and his arch enemy Hubert Lane. Another recurring character is Violet Elizabeth Bott, who demands to be included in William’s plans, threatening to, “scream and scream until I’m sick!” if he refuses her.

Why we chose it

Just William has been making readers laugh for nearly 100 years. Author Terry Pratchett chose to be was photographed as William for our 26 Characters exhibition in 2014. In his opinion Richmal Crompton was one of the best authors there has ever been for children.

Where it came from

Richmal Compton started to write short stories while working as a Classics teacher. When she lost the use of the right leg due to polio, she retired from teaching and began to write full time. She wrote stories for adults too but her William books became her most successful. The first short story featuring William “Rice Mould Pudding” was published in Home Magazine in 1919.

Where it went next

Richmal Crompton went on to write 38 more William books.

The books have been turned into radio series, TV series and films from the 1940s until the most recent BBC production which was broadcast in 2010. Compton herself wrote 55 radio play scripts for the BBC from 1948-52 of which nearly half were original story-lines, not taken from the books.

The award winning audio recordings made by Martin Jarvis have been hugely popular. There is even a Just William Society.

In the museum

Find the photograph of Terry Pratchet as William Brown in our 26 Characters display.

Added on 08th August 2020

Author Richmal Crompton
First published 1922
Publisher George Newnes