The facts

William carefully committed to memory the voice and manner of his sister’s greeting to her friends. That would come in useful later on, probably. No weapon of offence against the world in general and his own family in particular, was to be despised. He held a rehearsal in his room when the guests were all safely assembled in the drawing-room.
“Oh, how are you, Mrs. Green?” he said in a high falsetto, meant to represent the feminine voice. “And how’s the darling baby? Such a duck! What a perfect darling of a dress, my dear. I know whose heart you’ll break in that! Oh, Mr. Thompson!”—here William languished, bridled and ogled in a fashion seen nowhere on earth except in his imitations of his sister when engaged in conversation with one of the male sex. If reproduced at the right moment, it was guaranteed to drive her to frenzy, “I’m so glad to see you. Yes, of course I really am! I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t!”

  • Number: 2.2
  • Published: 1922 (1919 in magazine form)
  • Book: More William
  • Synopsis: In the first ever published William story, he tries to procure a tastier dessert for the little next girl next door.


It’s strange to think that William’s journey of affected masculinity began with the desperate eagerness to please the little girl next door which marks this story.

She is fed up with having “rice-mould” for pudding every evening. He promises her blacmange. Fortunately, his parents are hosting a party that evening so some is available in the larder…

This is a story with plenty of Williamesque monologues (“It’s a young folks’ party, I heard you tell Aunt Jane it was a young folks’ party. Well, I’m young, aren’t I? I’m eleven. Do you want me any younger? You aren’t ashamed of folks seeing me, are you! I’m not deformed or anything”) and behaviour: the scene in which he attacked an attractive pile of pears, eating the inside of each fruit and placing it back so as to look outwardly untouched, lingers in the memory!

Did Richmal Crompton have any idea quite what a phenomenon William would become, at this early stage? Who knows…

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…