Day 73: William and the Lost Tourist

The facts

“I thought we’d go round home by the longer way,” he said, “so… so…” then with a burst of inspiration, “so as to get a better view of the Avon.”

  • Number: 6.5
  • Published: 1926 (1925 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Conqueror
  • Synopsis: William helps a visiting American to have a Shakespearean experience.


Martin Jarvis’ BBC radio recordings of the William stories are beyond brilliant, but this is the first story so far which I think is really lacking without his voice – specifically without his portrayal of Miss Sadie Burford as a tourist from the American deep south, blissfully ignorant of the (entirely well-meaning) con William is carrying out.

Miss Sadie Burford had come over to England with the firmly fixed impression that it was a country in which anything might happen, and her expectations were being gloriously fulfilled.

She is determined to visit Stratford-upon-Avon while visiting the UK. Arriving in William’s village was, in this sense, a misfortune.

But in another sense, it was very fortunate, because – thanks to William’s poetic licence – she is able not only to have a guided tour around Stratford-upon-Avon but to meet a direct descendant of Shakespeare’s (William, naturally), a direct descendant of Sir Walter Scott (Ginger), a direct descendant of Wordsworth (Douglas) and a direct descendant of Nelson (Henry: his miltary lineage chosen because “William’s acquaintance with classical poets was limited”).

She also gets to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage… “An’ there’s Anne Hathaway lookin’ out of the window.”