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Richmal Crompton - a thread of her own

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    Richmal Crompton - a thread of her own

    mentioned on the Bill Bryson thread died 50 years ago today. I thought she deserved her own thread.

    #2
    One of my many favourite things about the William books is her use of the phrase, 'William said carelessly' after a quote. It doesn't quite make sense, and I've never seen any other writer us it, but it's highly evocative of the boy's scruffiness and cheek. I also often quote William's phrase, "Just statin' a fact" during family discussions/rows.

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      #3
      Indeed. Having in the past year red most of the William books and also the Famous Five, whilst there are some areas of Comptons books that wouldn't stand up to modern day scrutiny, they are definitely less simplistic than Blyton's world-view and as imp rightly points out, Compton used some lovely turns of phrase. Always loved the constant battles between William and his elder siblings Robert and Ethel.

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        #4
        I'm also a fan. I considered choosing "Hubert Lane" as my OTF moniker.

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          #5
          William is among a cast of characters who seem to belong essentially to the last century, they also include Peter Pan, Dennis the Menace and assorted Bash Street Kids. There was a common acceptance then that boyhood is a period of exploratory and experimental anarchy, and that this is a necessary thing, to be tolerated if not encouraged, by everyone else. Sadly it seem to have largely disappeared.



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            #6
            Yeah, I referred to her Austenesque prose. There's a scene in one of the stories in which William is caught in class nibbling at a meat pie which he and his gang were going to share at lunch break. The teacher makes him stand up in front of the class and eat the whole pie as punishment. Crompton writes that "there was a stormy meeting of the shareholders in that pie" come lunchtime.

            Other lovely stuff; in one of the wartime stories, a well-meaning lady encouraging Violet Elisabeth Bott and her fellow birthday party attendees to eat "as little as possible - as little as possible!" of the jelly, cake and general provender set out for them, so that it could be redistributed among the less fortunate. "Violet merely smiled sweetly." It did not work out well.

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              #7


              ďWhatís the good of us usiní up all our brains at school soís weíll have none left when weíre grown up aní have to earn our livings? Iíd rather keep mine fresh by not usiní it till Iím grown up aní need it. I think thatís why grown-ups are so stupid,ícause theyíve used up all their brains over Latin aní histíry aní suchlike when they were at school, aní havenít got any left. Iím jolly well not goiní to use mine up like that, I can tell you. I bet Iíll be cleverer than anyone when Iím grown up jusí Ďcause I wonít have used up all my brains over lessons same as some people do.Ē (

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                #8
                There's a great story when some blackshirts come to their village and William et al take the royal piss out of them. It was pretty ballsy writing that in 1937.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Nefertiti2 View Post

                  ďWhatís the good of us usiní up all our brains at school soís weíll have none left when weíre grown up aní have to earn our livings? Iíd rather keep mine fresh by not usiní it till Iím grown up aní need it. I think thatís why grown-ups are so stupid,ícause theyíve used up all their brains over Latin aní histíry aní suchlike when they were at school, aní havenít got any left. Iím jolly well not goiní to use mine up like that, I can tell you. I bet Iíll be cleverer than anyone when Iím grown up jusí Ďcause I wonít have used up all my brains over lessons same as some people do.Ē (
                  This is great. Can anyone think of North American equivalents to the heroic rebellious child (for want of a better term?) I guess Mark Twain hit the spot, but he was a bit earlier. No 20th century US equivalents to William spring to mind.

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                    #10
                    Not my area of expertise, but is The Catcher in the Rye not (at least vaguely) similar?

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                      #11
                      Personal opinion but Catcher in the Rye is one of the, if not the, dullest and most over-hyped books I've ever read. The William books are an absolute joy and inspired by this thread, I've uploaded the first 5 to my Kindle and am thoroughly enjoying them. Mr Salingers most famous work will only be downloaded over my cold, dead, lifeless body.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by jdsx View Post
                        Not my area of expertise, but is The Catcher in the Rye not (at least vaguely) similar?
                        I'm afraid not. The William type rebel is always pre-pubescent. Girls, if they exist at all, are mostly tolerated at best, ignored at worst. The only contemporary American examples I can think of that are close are Our Gang (The Young Rascals) and The Dead End Kids. Both are from movies not literature (though the latter began life on the stage.)

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                          #13
                          I don't think that there is one.

                          Whereas France has Petit Nicolas.

                          It may have something to do with the more heterogeneous nature of US primary education in the mid-20th century, which meant that universal points of reference weren't available.

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                            #14
                            You may well be right, though Huck and Tom kinda fit the bill albeit from a slightly earlier period. (I must read Tom Sawyer again, I've totally forgotten what Becky's about.)

                            There are the Katzenjammer Kids too. Again, not literature, (also possibly more German than American?) and certainly nastier than William.
                            Last edited by Amor de Cosmos; 13-01-2019, 23:48.

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                              #15
                              There are a number of comics/cartoon possibilities: Katazenjammer, Little Nemo, the US Dennis the Menace, even Pogo if you see them as essentially human characters. But none of those capture the same sensibilities for me.

                              One could even consider the Little House books, though that examines the issues through a profoundly female and rural lens that one doesn't have in Europe at that time and would have been completely alien to my mother (though considerably less so to my grandmother, had she been able to read English).

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                                #16
                                I would question the label 'rebel'. William is a kid and always has a logical (from his pov) train of thought behind what he does. He doesn't deliberately antagonise authority. Like a lot of kids he doesn't show deference to his elders but there are friendly adults in the stories who aren't automatically the enemy.

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                                  #17
                                  OK, if you like. He and the Outlaws are a young boy's idea of rebels, so, for instance he consistently says he wants to be a pirate when grows up, but what he really wants is adventure. Most grown-ups understand this and tolerate his mischief most of the time on the basis that "boys will be boys."

                                  One of my favourite stories is William and the Cow. In it he meets a young woman artist painting in a field. He and she hit it off. She's traveled the world on a tramp steamer, hunted tigers from an elephant in India and so on. William's entranced response is "Will you marry me?" He even decides, briefly, to become an artist if you got to do things like she had. He, like all of us, is trying to to establish his identity, and, that needs to be done away from the elders.

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                                    #18
                                    William books were a sequence on Only Connect the evening before last. Neither team got it - presumably not old enough for the books to have been one of their childhood staples, as they were one of mine (along with Bunter, Jennings, and a host of Enid Blyton series). That was in the 70s, but I had older siblings and their hand me down books, so I was involuntarily retro.

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                                      #19
                                      Was clearing a load of stuff out of my office (including my entire collection of football programmes) down into our cellar cage today. Spotted our William books on the 'surplus' shelf. They are now in their rightful place, back upstairs - in literary terms, a respectable trade-off.

                                      Opened a random page in 'William - the Fourth': "If Sunday School's so nice an' good for folks as they say it is," said William bitterly, "why don't they go? I won't mind them going."

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                                        #20
                                        Screen adaptations often lead you to the books later, but sometimes they can do the opposite, and put you off ever picking them up. Thanks to Bonnie Langford, who for a 70's kid was the Yukkiest Girl On Earth, I never did discover Crompton or feel the slightest urge to. My loss, I guess.

                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_W...977_TV_series)

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                                          #21
                                          Wait. Richmal Crompton is a SHE?

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                                            #22

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                                              #23
                                              Originally posted by EIM View Post
                                              Wait. Richmal Crompton is a SHE?
                                              Don't worry, everyone gets it wrong.

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                                                #24
                                                Originally posted by imp View Post
                                                Opened a random page in 'William - the Fourth': "If Sunday School's so nice an' good for folks as they say it is," said William bitterly, "why don't they go? I won't mind them going."
                                                That's not the line of a naughty rebel like Dennis the Menace, say. That's a smart kid poking a hole in the nonsense he's been told by adults who think he should be doing something boring.

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                                                  #25
                                                  According to a contribultor to one website I found when indulging my curiosity about her very unusual given name, Richmal was a locally popular name in that era in the town of Bury, Lancashire (her place of birth), which allegedly accounted for a huge proportion of all births registered with that name in the whole of Britain.

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