church christianity and the vicar’s wife

The facts

“Gosh!” said William. “What a lot of sausage rolls!”
“Yes, I don’t know why I bought so many,” said Mrs Brown. “They were selling them off.”
“I’ll eat them for you if you like,” said William.
“All right, dear. They’ll do for your supper.”
When she came back William was kneeling on a chair, eating sausage rolls and reading the evening paper. Most of the newsprint was obscured by crumbs, but he cleared them away as he read.
“Gosh!” he said indistinctly. “Nearly a whole page about teachers strikin’.”
“It’s very sad, dear,” said Mrs Brown. “I hope yours won’t.”
“I hope they will,” said William.


Archie has been roped in, by the indomitable Mrs Monks, to running the hoop-la stall at the church fair, but he is anxious to attend the (simultaneous) tennis club fête because Ethel will be there and he wants to make himself helpful to Ethel.

William finds this baffling (“Gosh! I’d sooner have a hoop-la stall than Ethel any day!”) but offers to run the hoop-la stall himself so as to free Archie for Ethel-chasing duties. Even though Archie won’t trust him with it, William insists.

William slid neatly down the balusters.
“Oh, William!” groaned Mrs Brown. “I thought you’d gone to bed.”
“I have,” said William. “I mean, I am going. But I’ve got a smashing idea, Mother. Listen! If they do go on strike an’ we can’t go to school, we ought to get unemployment pay, oughtn’t we?”
“William, what nonsense!”
“Yes, but listen…” began William.

The hoop-la prizes, he is told, are in a brown suitcase. Inevitably William opens the wrong brown suitcase and chaos ensues – but then (and we’ve had this ending before: see eg William the Rat Lover, 17.4) William unexpectedly enters and wins a fancy-dress competition.

 The facts

“We wasted hours in that sweet shop.”
“Yes,” agreed William sombrely. “He didn’t study the customer. He’s jus’ like the ones my father was talkin’ about. He’ll never attract overseas trade.”

  • Number: 30.1
  • Published: 1954 (from this book onwards, the stories were never published in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Space Animal
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws acquire a small boy in a gryphon costume.


Selflessly going to deliver a message to a local parent that their babysitter can’t arrive, William is mistaken for the babysitter and once again placed in sole charge of an infant.

But he and Ginger happily knuckle down to their task; as William points out, “We’ve got to look after the house prop’ly as well as mind the baby. We’re doin’ it jolly well, so far, I think… I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay us a lot of money when they come back.”

“What on earth have you brought that baby for?” said Henry.
“We’re mindin’ it,” said William, “an’ we’ve brought it along for a bit of fresh air.” He hastened to forestall criticism by adopting a tone of amused superiority. “Haven’t you ever heard of givin’ babies a bit of fresh air? Gosh! You mus’ be ign’rant.”

When they bump into a small boy on his way to a fancy dress party (as a gryphon), they naturally assume him to be an alien and add him to their collection of vulnerable beings.

After swapping the poor lad for a tortoise, they realise that they’ve mislaid the baby. A succession of villagers find the various children, deliver them to the wrong place, and engage in general chaos.

But William’s OK. William has a tortoise.

The facts

“It’s a long time since we did anything about the war,” said William.

  • Number: 25.10
  • Published: 1945 (same year in magazine form)
  • Book: William and the Brains Trust
  • Synopsis: William tries to help the war effort using a shapeless toy knitted by Aunt Florence.


The Outlaws organise a bring-and-buy sale “in ade of the Prisoners of War”.

The sight of Aunt Florence knitting at the open window gave William an idea.
Aunt Florence noticed a stream of village children passing the window and gazing in at her. To each she gave a pleasant greeting, murmuring at intervals: “So nice and friendly, these country children.” She did not know, of course, that above the open window was fixed a notice: “WOT IS SHE NITTING NOW? PENNY A GESS. PRIZE FOR WINER.”

But two things go wrong; firstly, the boys of the village are far more interested in swapping toys than in buying them (leading to very little benefit for prisoners of war). And, more seriously, Aunt Florence is staying with the Browns and keen to help. Aunt Florence has recently read a book on toy-making, but even with the benefit of such expert knowledge she still manages to knit only a “shapeless repulsive object”.

William rather cleverly manages to turn Aunt Florence’s contribution from an embarassment into a triumph by holding a popular competition: “The green mistry. Wot is it? Penny to ges. Prize to winer.”