dorinda lane

The facts

“How could that other man Ham…”
“I said Bacon.”
“Well, it’s nearly the same,” said William. “Well, how could this man Bacon write them if Shakespeare wrote them?”
“Ah, but you see I don’t believe that Shakespeare did write them,” said Mr Welbecker mysteriously.
“Well, why’s he got his name printed on all the books then?” said William. “An’ if this other man Eggs…”
“I said Bacon,” snapped Mr Welbecker again. “I want first to tell you the story of the play of which you are all going to act a scene,” he said. “There was a man called Hamlet…”
“You just said he was called Bacon,” said William.
“I did not say he was called Bacon,” snapped Mr Welbecker.
“Yes, ‘scuse me, you did,” said William politely.
Listen! This man was called Hamlet and his uncle had killed his father because he wanted to marry his mother.”
“What did he want to marry his mother for?” said William. “I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to marry their mother.”
“It was Hamlet’s mother he wanted to marry.”
“Oh, that man that you think wrote the plays.”

  • Number: 14.2
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form) – originally titled William the Star Actor
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: William is determined to star in a school Shakespeare production.


William’s misunderstanding of the plot of Hamlet is side-splitting – and it is followed by an equally wonderful rendition of the To be or not to be soliloquy.

The former is just his natural personality. The latter is his attempt to impress Dorinda Lane, making a return appearance and still one of William’s greatest admirers.

Fortunately for him, his teachers find old boy and visiting Shakespeare lecturer Mr Welbecker a bit of a nightmare so they are relatively content to let William make sport of him.

Also this exchange is just glorious:

“I wish you wouldn’t keep interrupting,” said Mr Welbecker testily.
“I thought you said we could ask questions,” said William.
“Yes, I did, but you’re not asking questions.”
“I know I’m not,” said William, “but I don’t see any difference in asking a question and telling you something int’restin’.”

The facts

“I’m going to let you scrape out the dish now. And the spoon,” said Mrs Brown.
William laughed sardonically. “Anyone’d think you were tryin’ to starve me, the way you scrape it out.”
“Now, William,” his mother interrupted him firmly, “I’ve left quite a lot. If you don’t want it, of course, you needn’t have it. I’ll put the basin to soak in the sink.”
But William, who had been talking for talking’s sake, hastily seized it and set to work upon it earnestly.

  • Number: 13.6
  • Published: 1931 (same year in magazine form) – originally titled William the Hero
  • Book: William’s Crowded Hours
  • Synopsis: William becomes infatuated with Hubert Lane’s cousin.


Poor William never learns his lesson, does he. Only a few short stories ago, in William the Superman, 12.8, he got himself into hot water trying to impress a little girl by claiming psychical powers. And now he does exactly the same thing again – but worse, because the girl is Hubert Lane’s cousin Dorinda, and Hubert is standing by ready to watch his humiliation.

“Why are you running so fast, William?” Dorinda said, trying to keep up with him.
“Jus’ ’cause I like runnin’,” said William breathlessly.
“What were all those people making such a noise
about?” said Dorinda.
“Oh, they jus’ like:makin’ a noise,” said William.

When Dorinda challenges him to produce a magical cake for her to eat, he repeats his trick from The Magic Monkey, 8.6 (surely Hubert must suspect this?) and leads her to the village hall where, he happens to know, a vast quantity of cakes are lying unattended in waiting for a Women’s Guild meeting.

Dorinda is still not quite satisfied though, and asks William to bait and tame Farmer Jenks’ fearsome bull.

She does seem like a ridiculously dangerous person to hang around with, but William is happy in the end…