violet elizabeth bott

The facts

Me?” said William indignantly. “Me go to tea with that ole girl? Me?
“She… she’s a nice little girl,” said Mrs Brown weakly.
“I only hope,” said William sternly, “that she won’t ’spect me to talk to her.”

  • Number: 5.3
  • Published: 1925 (1924 in magazine form)
  • Book: Still William
  • Synopsis: A new family move into the fanciest house in the village, and their infamous daughter takes a shine to William.


The previous story, 5.2, starred Joan as “the only girl whose existence the Outlaws officially recognised”. This story sees the debut of the one girl whose existence the Outlaws would surely be most desirous of ending, Violet Elizabeth Bott.

In many ways the story itself is a slightly better rehashing of “Kidnappers”, 4.6.

“I don’t play little girls’ games,” William said scathingly. But Violet Elizabeth did not appear to be scathed.
“Don’t you know any little girlth?” she said pityingly. “I’ll teach you little girlth gameth,” she added pleasantly.

The scene in which William and Violet Elizabeth play “nicely” alone in the Botts’ gardens is a famous one, immortalised in the BBC’s 2010 dramatisation.

But most poignant is Douglas’ (characteristic) doom-mongering:

“I’m not going to have anything ot do with any ole girl ever again,” said William.
“’S all very well sayin’ that,” said Douglas who had been deeply impressed that morning by the inevitableness and deadly persistence of the sex, “’s all very well sayin’ that. It’s them what has to do with you.”
“An’ I’m never goin’ to marry any ole girl,” said William.
“’S all very well sayin’ that,” said Douglas again gloomily, “but some ole girl’ll probably marry you.”

The facts

William had definitely and finally embraced a career of crime. On the table before him stood a bottle of liquorice water with an irregularly printed label: GROG.

  • Number: 4.6
  • Published: 1924 (1922 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Fourth
  • Synopsis: Inspired by the story of Rudolph of the Red Hand, William and Ginger kidnap the daughter of the richest couple in the village.


There are two big character-shaped holes in the William stories so far. The first is Hubert Lane, who is still yet to appear. The second is the inimitable Violet-Elizabeth Bott – though perhaps she is a little imitable, because the seven-year-old Lady Barbara D’Arcey, who features in this story, was clearly a precursor to the dreaded Violet-Elizabeth.

William rose, majajestic and stately. “My name,” he said, “is Rudolph of the Red Hand.”
“Well, I’ll kiss you, dear Rudolph Hand,” said his captive, “if you like.”
William’s look intimated that he did not like.

Like Violet-Elizabeth, Lady Barbara attaches herself like a limpet to the Outlaws. She likes kissing. She likes making the boys feel gauche.

Unlike Violet-Elizabeth, her parents are genuinely upper-class, and not affected nouveau riche types like Mr and Mrs Botts.

When they invite William to join their daughter’s dancing class, he knows that only desperate, ransom-gathering measures will suffice…

Violet-Elizabeth is a better character though.