Richmal Crompton created more than Just William - Times Online

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Richmal Crompton: Times feature by Matthew Dennison


Dennison writes:

In all she wrote 41 adult novels and nine collections of short stories -- only one of these 50 titles remains in print. Family Roundabout describes two matriarchs who adopt opposing approaches to the upbringing of their five children. One is controlling and domineering, the other easygoing to the point of feyness. As increasingly becomes apparent, the secret of successful motherhood has eluded both. Nicola Beauman, of Persephone, who reissued the novel, selected it from Crompton's adult ouput for its unusual theme.

William Brown, archetype of those tree-swinging, yelling children who failed to disturb Miss Swinton, was born in Home Magazine in February 1919. His creator was a 28-year-old classics teacher from Lancashire. At her death 50 years later, Crompton was midway through a new William story. Today the name of author and juvenile desperado remain synonymous. The perennially eleven-year-old William Brown casts a lengthy shadow over Crompton's life and continues to dominate her posthumous reputation. To a fellow novelist who asked about her domestic situation, Crompton confided: "I am probably the last surviving example of the Victorian professional aunt." Crompton had made a career out of children. The Just William books made her a household name and a very wealthy woman -- but she had no children of her own, only nieces and nephews...

Special 90th-birthday editions of More William, William Again and William at War are published by Macmillan.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on November 14, 2009 9:55 AM.

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