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

“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.

Day 291: William’s Secret Society

 The facts

William was silent for a few moments; then, with a burst of inspiration: “We’ll have a Secret Society.”
“Gosh, yes!” said Ginger. “That’s a jolly good idea.”
“An’ we’ll have passwords an’ disguises,” said William, “an’ put up a notice an’ have a meetin’ in the old barn an’ I’ll make a speech.”
“You can’t make a speech about a Secret Society,” said Henry. “If it’s a Secret Society it’s gotter be secret.”
“Yes, I s’pose so,” said William regretfully. He prided himself on his powers as a public orator and did not like to let slip any opportunity of using them.

  • Number: 28.7
  • Published: 1952 (same year in magazine form; not to be confused with the 1923 story, 3.7, of the same name)
  • Book: William the Tramp
  • Synopsis: William takes on a suspected Russian spy.


Of all William’s plans and schemes, his creativity in this story I think surpasses all others. Faced with the prospect of an evil Russian spy in their midst, William does not demur from the danger like Douglas (“I think we’d better be a bit careful of atom bombs: they’re s’posed to be dangerous”) but instead gets right in.

His technique?

“We’ll take you to it,” said Henry. “It’s this way… over the stile.”
They entered the old barn. William sat in an impressive attitude on a packing case. His appearance had been copied faithfully (or rather as faithfully as possible) from the picture of Stalin in Henry’s encyclopaedia. He wore a golfing blouse of Robert’s that engulfed his figure, Ethel’s jockey cap, and a large straggling moustache that Robert had once worn in some amateur theatricals and that fell off whenever he moved.
Mr Kellyngs stood staring at him, open-mouthed with amazement. William rose to his feet with an air of dignity.
“Hail, Comrade!” he said, holding his moustache on with one hand and making a sweeping gesture with the other. “I’m Stalin come over to England to fetch thy papers about the atom bomb. I’m flying back to Russia ’ere nightfall an’ I’ll take them along with me. Thee will be well paid for thy trouble, but I haven’t any change on me at present. I’ll send thee a postal order from Russia when I get there. Hist! Not a word! Give me the papers and begone!”

An elaborate oath of secrecy was administered and a still more elaborate system of signals devised by which the Outlaws were to indicate to each other various degrees of danger – no danger, middling danger, special danger, deadly danger, pressing need for reinforcement and even the immediate calling in of Scotland Yard. And then suddenly things seemed to fall rather flat.
“Well, what’re we goin’ to do?” said Ginger.
“We’ve settled what to do,” said William a little irritably. “We’re goin’ to put down crim’nals.”
“They live in the underground,” said Ginger.
“You’re thinkin’ of the underworld,” said Henry. “It’s somethin’ quite diff’rent.”
“We ought to be a bit careful,” said Douglas. “They slash with razors.”
“I bet I’d get a crim’nal before he’d time to pull his razor out,” said William. “I’m jolly strong. Look! You can feel my muscle goin’ up an’ down when you put your hand on my arm. Gosh! It’s enormous.”

Of course, it turns out that Mr Kellyngs isn’t a Russian spy, but he ends up fairly grateful to the Outlaws anyway…