The facts

Next Saturday the village was to have a lecture on ‘Living Marvels’ by a famous entomologist.
“Is he going to talk about that monster that lived in a lock somewhere?” William asked Robert.
“No,” said Robert. “Don’t be so ridiculous. Of course he isn’t. Anyway, the creature’s mythical.”
“Well, it may be,” said William non-committally. “I don’t know anythin’ about that. But it’s real, ’cause I read about it once in a newspaper an’ it was written by someone that had axshully seen it.”

  • Number: 32.1
  • Published: 1960
  • Book: William the Explorer
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws are banned from playing winter sports in a local field.


In the snowswept village, the Outlaws are hugely enjoying their improvised “winter sports”, until Mr Jones, the owner of the field they have borrowed, banishes them. (I think he was annoyed at being buried in an avalanche caused by William’s toboggan.)

Douglas surveyed the darkening landscape, over which the snow was blowing in gusts. “We’re goin’ to get caught in an awful storm,” he said.
“’Course we are,” said William. “We’re not scared of that. Gosh! We’d be jolly funny Antarctic explorers to be scared of a snowstorm. Come on! Let’s harness Jumble to the sledge.”

They quickly get over their disappointment when they capture a real live “’Bominable Snowman”.

But it turns out to be Mr Jones senior, who – in costume for a Christmas party later – was dangerously lost in the snow until rescued by the boys.

Let the winter sports recommence…

The facts

“Well, now I expect you want to run off, dear,” said Mrs Brown. “The War Working Party will be here any minute, and I know that you aren’t any fonder of them than they are of you.”
“Gosh, no!” said William, and vanished.


William needs money with which to buy Christmas presents, so when he hears that the toy shop will buy scarce metal toys at generous prices, he jumps at the chance. Outside the shop he encounters an older boy who claims to be the owner’s cousin and offers to take the toys off for a free valuation.

The inevitable happens, so William has to enter detective mode and track down his property. He handed it over to the thief in a distinctive multi-coloured bag, and who should he see holding such a bag but the Vicar’s wife!

Mr and Mrs Monks led lives of such unblemished outward respectability that William, whose taste in literature tended to the lurid, had always cherished the suspicion that this blatant appearance of respectability hid some secret career of crime. He had, at different times and without success, tried to prove that they were spies, murderers and traffickers in drugs. And now, at last, his suspicions were proved correct. Mrs Monks was a member of a Gang, if not the head of it. A Gang of Toy Stealers. Perhaps an international Gang of Toy Stealers…

He hastily abstracts the bag from her, but it contains not his toy soldiers but a Christmas cake, some Yuletide napkins, a sponge and some china flowers. William is relatively relaxed about confiscating these proceeds of crime and giving them, as they are, to his mother as the perfect Christmas present.

But when Mrs Brown puts these items out at a tea party she is giving that afternoon, things become slightly confused…

 The facts

“Get the money now, dear,” said Mrs Brown, “and go as quietly as you can.”
William tiptoed across to the dressing-table, but his tiptoeing was always of a somewhat elephantine nature. He banged into a chair, and knocked over a bottle of hair lotion on the dressing-table, before he finally found the purse. He took a ten-shilling note and a sixpence, put them carefully into his pocket, and made his way, still tiptoeing, to the door.
“Don’t bang it, dear,” pleaded Mrs. Brown faintly.
William gave his whole attention to not banging the door. He closed it by infinitesimal inches, and took so long that his mother’s nerves were strained to breaking-point before it finally reached its objective. The effect was somewhat marred by his immediately slipping on the top step and falling all the way downstairs.

  • Number: 20.7
  • Published: 1938 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William’s Christmas Shopping
  • Book: William the Dictator
  • Synopsis: William thinks Aunt Louie deserves a better present than Mrs Brown does.


Louie is a friend of Mrs Brown who lives in South Africa. She is also a friend of William’s, so he graces her with the title ‘Aunt’. And it is her birthday, so Mrs Brown sends William into town to collect a present for her – a tea-towel – so it can be posted to the south.

The Outlaws collectively decide, though, that Aunt Louie is so nice that she deserves something better than a tea-towel.

“Pity not to send her somethin’ reely useful…”
murmured Ginger.
They had reached Hadley now, and stood looking into the window of a toy-shop that always attracted them.
“Now, that pistol’d be jolly useful to her,” said
Douglas. “I bet you want no end of pistols in a country like South Africa, with all those lions an’ savidges.”
“It’s not a real one,” Henry reminded him.
“I know, but it’d sort of give ’em a scare.”

They spend all of the money earmarked by Mrs Brown on various items which they consider would be of service to Aunt Louie in her foreign home: a pistol with which to pretend to shoot lions; a compass for finding her way through the veldt; a drum “to call people to help when the savidges are attacking”. And a tortoise.

A quite ridiculous twist of fate saves William’s neck. And he is left, at the end, with a tortoise.