violet elizabeth bott

The facts

Anything might happen at the seaside. William saw himself rescuing a drowning man (it would be someone important – perhaps the Prime Minister)… carelessly netting a sea serpent… unmasking a villainous plot to steal naval secrets along the coast. He would become world famous
for all these exploits. A grateful country would reward him handsomely. He would shower gifts on his family: an American kitchen for his mother, a golf course for his father, a sports car for Robert, a mink and diamond head scarf for Ethel.
For himself he would buy a lion cub and a lighthouse.


When William sets his mind to find some hidden treasure, he literally means, to find some hidden treasure; not to look for some, but to find some.

This proves a helpful distraction for him from troubles at home, namely the extended stay of a depressed Aunt Florence who refuses to leave the house. But he eventually gets drawn in when he hears of her yearning for “a lead from Providence”, some sort of heavenly sign that she can carry on living. He resolves to find her such a sign – or, in default of finding one, to produce one.

“Did you tell Hubert Lane that we were goin’ to look for smugglers’ treasure in that cave?” said William, his voice sinking so deep that it was almost a growl.
The radiance of Violet Elizabeth’s smile remained undimmed. “Yeth, I did, William,” she said. “I did. I met him yethterday and he thaid you were a nathty horrid boy and I thaid you weren’t. I thaid you were a brave boy and I told him you were going to climb up the rock and find the thmugglerth treathure and I thaid that he couldn’t do that ‘cauthe he wathn’t brave enough.”
“Oh,” said William, touched and a little disconcerted.

Hubert Lane humiliates them over the matter of the treasure, but in the end things turn out alright…

 The facts

“What’ll we have?” said Ginger. “In the newspaper, I mean.”
“They have news in newspapers,” said Henry simply.
“Well, there isn’t any news,” said Ginger. “My father’s always sayin’ there isn’t any. news.”
“Well, we can invent news, can’t we?” said William. “I bet that’s what real ones do, invent it if there isn’t any…”
“There’s lors against it,” warned Douglas. “My aunt once knew someone that was had up by the p’lice for saying somethin’ about someone else that wasn’t true. It frightened her so much she got an awful disease called jaundice an’ turned yellow all over.”


“Real newspapers try ‘n’ get news that other newspapers haven’t got,” said Henry. “They call it a scoop.”
“We’ll have one of ’em, then,” said William casually. “We’ll fix that up later. Now let’s go off somewhere. We want to be private. We don’t want people int’ruptin’ us. I bet the editors of ‘The Times’ an’… an’… an’…”
“‘The Poultry World’,” suggested Douglas whose mother kept hens, and studied ‘The Poultry World’ assiduously each week.
“Yes, ‘The Poultry World'”, said William. “Well, I bet they don’t have their mothers shoutin’ up at them every minute not to make so much noise.”

The Outlaws make it seem so easy, but astonishingly enough, they get caught up in all sorts of twists, turns and shenanigans.

“My foot feels funny,” said Ginger. “I think it’s gone to
“Put it to bed, then,” said Douglas, and the others shouted with mirth at his wit.

But there is some neighbourhood drama going on: Miss Milton has a huge bee in her bonnet about a visitor to the village, Mr Helston, not washing his windows. So much so that she breaks into his house to clean them – and finds herself there at exactly the same time as the Outlaws, who have found some of Mr Helston’s papers and convinced themselves that he is a murderer (whereas in fact they are, surprise surprise, just pages from the crime novel he’s working on).

Things come to a head when Mr Helston arrives home with Mr Brown – who has just found out that the visitor is the writer of a series of books of which he is very fond – and discovers the chaos in his house.

William gazed at his father open-mouthed. “D’you mean he’s famous?”
“Of course he’s famous,” said Mr Brown.
Without a moment’s hesitation, William dragged from his pocket the grubby piece of paper and much-bitten pencil that formed his editorial equipment. “I represent the ‘Old Barn Times’,” he said. “Can you kin’ly tell me…” The other four joined in, Violet Elizabeth’s voice rising shrilly above the chorus, “what is the mos’ excitin’ moment of your life?”

 The facts

William decided to practise his tight-rope act. He had never actually practised it yet. He had merely enjoyed glorious mental visions of himself walking with airy nonchalance at a dizzy height with crowds of cheering spectators far below. The only practical step he had taken towards the materialisation of this vision was the appropriation of a length of clothes line from his mother’s washing basket.
The resultant crash brought the entire household out into the hall.
“What on earth are you up to now, William?” said Mr Brown, in a voice that held concern but little tenderness. “Come down here at once.”
“I’ve not hurt myself an’ I’ve not done any harm,” William said, forestalling the inevitable queries and accusations. “Not any real harm, I mean. The handle came off the chest of drawers, but I bet it must’ve been loose to start with. Well, I bet real tight-rope walkers have somethin’ on their feet to make ’em stick. They must have. Glue or somethin’. Well, I’m jolly good at balancin’, but I went right over at once, so…”
“Be quiet, William,” said Mr Brown, who knew that William’s eloquence, if not checked at its source, could grow to an overwhelming torrent.

  • Number: 28.1
  • Published: 1952 (1947 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Tramp
  • Synopsis: The Outlaws try to juggle a tramp and a visiting lecturer.


Yet again the Outlaws and Violet Elizabeth are trying to come up with a way to smuggle the poor into The Hall as a form of social justice. The fact that every previous attempt at this scheme – most notably Just William’s Luck, 26 – has resulted in total disaster and financial ruin, does not dampen their enthusiasm at all.

The tramp they select is, like most of the other tramps the boys encounter, a talkative and ingenious one who introduces himself as Marmaduke Mehitavel (and Archibald Mortimer, and Horatio Grimble).

The room they select is one which Mrs Bott has destined for a visiting Literary Society lecturer, the celebrated scholar Mr Bumbleby.

Their truly inspired plan to prevent the seemingly inevitable clash is that the tramp should wear a suit of Mr Bott’s and impersonate Mr Bumbleby.

The real Mr Bumbleby’s role in this plan is the glamorous one of being locked in the coal shed…