The facts

“Would you like to go to Cousin Sybil’s wedding?” Mrs Brown said.
“No, I wu’nt,” said William without hesitation.
“Wouldn’t you like to go dressed up?” she said.
“Red Injun?” said William with a gleam of hope.
“Er… no, not exactly.”

  • Number: 1.9
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: William is forced to be a page at a family wedding.


If the idea of going to a wedding as a page-boy, “dressed up” in – horror of horrors – some of sister Ethel’s old clothes, is not an affront to William, then nothing is.

And, to make matters worse, the scandal makes its way around the village and he becomes the butt of every boyish joke for miles around.

“There’s nothing mediæval or romantic about William,” Mrs Brown said.

But, when the dreadful day finally arrives, William meets the maid-of-honour, his 11-year-old cousin Dorita (I wonder if she ever grew up?), for the first time. “‘Are you keen on this piffling wedding affair?’ she went on carelessly, ‘’cause I jolly well tell you I’m not.'”

A kindred spirit!

She not only detested fancy wedding clothes, but shared William’s passion for carrying mice around in the pocket, for “mountaineering” in the form of climbing up a garden fence, and more.

“If I’d got to marry,” she reveals, “I’d as soon marry you as anyone.” “I wu’nt mind,” replies William. “But,” he adds hastily, “in ornery clothes.”

The idea of a female William – ageing or otherwise – could have taken the series in a whole different direction. But this was Dorita’s only appearance so the wedding of the future may remain an aspiration…

The facts

William would have no half-measures. They were to be married by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. He would wear his balck pirate suit with the skull and crossbones.

  • Number: 1.4
  • Published: 1922 (1920 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: Left alone with Miss Drew after school one day, William becomes infatuated and begins to plan the wedding.


Perhaps William’s headmaster was less astute as regarded his safeguarding responsibilities than would be a modern school.

But the scene in which William accompanies an unwilling Miss Drew on a date (with her “very nice-looking male cousin” no less) will defintely linger long in my memory – as, no doubt, it will in Miss Drew’s.

“Well, I can’t unnerstand any of it. I can’t think why people go on givin’ people bits of money for givin’ ’em lots of money. Anyone’s a mug for givin’ anyone a hundred pounds just ’cause he says he’ll go on giving’ him five pounds and go on stickin’ to his hundred pounds. How’s he to know he will? Well,” he warmed to his subject, “what’s to stop him not givin’ any five pounds once he’s got hold of the hundred pounds?”

Fortunately, William’s crush comes to a rapid end when he goes to a lot of trouble to obtain his teacher some syringa flowers – by ‘obtain’, of course, I mean ‘steal’, taking refuge in a dirty hen-coop when the irate landlord appears on the scene – only to discover that she prefers guelder roses.

His idol fallen, he treats her to his trademark look of “stony contempt” before abandoning his not altogether successful attempt at being a Model Student, and returning to his wayward ways.

This story seems particularly jarring to the modern reader but still a pleasing tale of William causing utter chaos to all around him, even when in love.

The facts

“You young ruffian,” Mr Brown roared, “what do you mean by charging into me like that?”
“I wasn’t chargin’, Father,” William said, meekly. “I was only jus’ comin’ in at the gate, same as other folks. I jus’ wasn’t looking jus’ the way you were coming, but I can’t look all ways at once cause—”
“Be quiet!” roared William’s father. Like the rest of the family, he dreaded William’s eloquence.

  • Number: 1.1
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: Just William
  • Synopsis: William’s aunt gives him a shilling, which he spends on a visit to the cinema. The films he sees give him many ideas…


The first William story in the entire series of 38 books* combines many elements that recur throughout his reign of terror.

The being-carried-away-by-a-film theme. The trying-to-help-around-the-house theme. The pretending-to-be-ill-to-get-sympathy theme. The attempting-to-repair-sister’s-love-life theme. The relentless-pursuit-of-sweets theme. The zeal-to-reform-others theme. Even the affectedly-manly-flirting-with-the-girl-next-door theme.

William glanced cautiously around and slunk down the road. Then he doubled suddenly and ran down a back street to put his imaginary pursuers off his track. He took a pencil from his pocket and, levelling it at the empty air, fired twice. Two of his pursuers fell dead, the rest came on with redoubled vigour.

The story itself, indeed, mirrors the structure of William’s experience at ‘the pictures’. It is a series of short episodes which take place one after another with relatively little connection.

William’s cinema showed, as was then traditional, a number of short films including comedy, romance, tragedy etc., and his activities for the rest of the story follow that structure as he attempts to re-enact each piece of movie magic.

It’s a very silly tale, and probably too crammed to be considered one of the best in the series, but as the opening shot for the next five decades of William books, it did its job.

*although not the first to be published: you’ll have to wait until Day 14 for that one!