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Just William
Martin Jarvis
Just William comes to BBC 7
Martin Jarvis reads the Just William series
Related Links

BBC Books: Richmal Crompton
Martin Jarvis interview
Richmal Crompton information
Martin Jarvis autobiography

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William Brown made his first appearance in a Richmal Crompton (1890-1969) short story in 1919. The William stories were published in Home Magazine and the Happy Mag and originally intended for adults. However, in 1922, twelve of the stories were collected and published in book form as Just – William and aimed at a younger market.

William has since been known affectionately as “Just William” and, it could be said, he presented children with their first example of an anarchic, rebellious role model, ever curious and keen to get up to mischief.

Crompton herself was a classics mistress at a girls’ school in Bromley, Kent and, while the stories are instantly accessible to children, adults can derive pleasure from the literary and classical allusions in the books. When Miss Drew, his class teacher, keeps William behind in class Crompton notes “There was a faint perfume about her, and William the devil-may-care pirate and robber-chief, the stern despiser of all things effeminate, felt the first dart of the malicious blind god.”

Richmal Crompton was struck by polio shortly after she began teaching and she devoted herself to writing full time, producing over 400 William stories, collected into 38 books. She also wrote 41 books for adults.

Martin Jarvis has made innumerable audio books and his Just William series is very well-loved and appreciated by adults and children alike.

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