Day 42: William and Photography

The facts

“Now, think of the things I say,” went on the photographer, brightly. “Sweeties? Ah! Do I see a saucy little smile?” As a matter of fact, he didn’t. “Seaside with spade and bucket? Pantomimes? That nice, soft furry pussy cat you’ve got at home?”
But seeing William’s expression change from one of scornful fury to one of Nebuchadnezzan rage and fury, he hastily pressed the shutter lest worse should follow.

  • Number: 4.2
  • Published: 1924 (1921 in magazine form)
  • Book: William the Fourth
  • Synopsis: Mrs Brown decrees that William must have his picture taken as a present to his godmother.


There is a scene in this story, of which Ethel says, “For years to come, if I feel depressed, I shall just think of it.”

“The first photo is great uncle Joshua,” she said, “a splendid old man. Never touched tobacco or alcohol in his life.”
They looked at great uncle Joshua. He sat, grim and earnest and respectable. But a lately-added pipe adorned his mouth, and his hand seemed to encircle a tankard. Quite suddenly, animation returned to the group by the album. They began to believe that they were going to enjoy it, after all.

I agree. It makes it one of my favourite William stories.

The ordeal through which William is (in his best suit) put by, and puts, the photographer, is not readily to be forgotten. The odiously patronising photographer definitely meets his match.

William gets his revenge, though, when forced to put on a smart suit and present his gift to his godmother. She insists on showing him, in mind-numbing detail, her family photo album. Fortunately, William had a pencil with him.