Day 152: William Holds the Stage

The facts

“How could that other man Ham…”
“I said Bacon.”
“Well, it’s nearly the same,” said William. “Well, how could this man Bacon write them if Shakespeare wrote them?”
“Ah, but you see I don’t believe that Shakespeare did write them,” said Mr Welbecker mysteriously.
“Well, why’s he got his name printed on all the books then?” said William. “An’ if this other man Eggs…”
“I said Bacon,” snapped Mr Welbecker again. “I want first to tell you the story of the play of which you are all going to act a scene,” he said. “There was a man called Hamlet…”
“You just said he was called Bacon,” said William.
“I did not say he was called Bacon,” snapped Mr Welbecker.
“Yes, ‘scuse me, you did,” said William politely.
Listen! This man was called Hamlet and his uncle had killed his father because he wanted to marry his mother.”
“What did he want to marry his mother for?” said William. “I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to marry their mother.”
“It was Hamlet’s mother he wanted to marry.”
“Oh, that man that you think wrote the plays.”

  • Number: 14.2
  • Published: 1932 (1931 in magazine form) – originally titled William the Star Actor
  • Book: William the Pirate
  • Synopsis: William is determined to star in a school Shakespeare production.


William’s misunderstanding of the plot of Hamlet is side-splitting – and it is followed by an equally wonderful rendition of the To be or not to be soliloquy.

The former is just his natural personality. The latter is his attempt to impress Dorinda Lane, making a return appearance and still one of William’s greatest admirers.

Fortunately for him, his teachers find old boy and visiting Shakespeare lecturer Mr Welbecker a bit of a nightmare so they are relatively content to let William make sport of him.

Also this exchange is just glorious:

“I wish you wouldn’t keep interrupting,” said Mr Welbecker testily.
“I thought you said we could ask questions,” said William.
“Yes, I did, but you’re not asking questions.”
“I know I’m not,” said William, “but I don’t see any difference in asking a question and telling you something int’restin’.”