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Holy Terrors

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 December 1986

‘Elizabeth’: The Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ 
by Karen Usborne.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 370 30887 5
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Alison Uttley: The Life of a Country Child 
by Denis Judd.
Joseph, 264 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2449 9
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Richmal CromptonThe Woman behind William 
by Mary Cadogan.
Allen and Unwin, 169 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 04 928054 6
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... These three women writers were mythmakers. Alison Uttley created Little Grey Rabbit (1929-1973), Richmal Crompton thought of Just William and kept him going for 48 years, May Annette Beauchamp invented herself as Elizabeth. All three of them were, and had to be, resilient women, gallant survivors, Elizabeth in particular ...

Netherstocking

E.S. Turner, 1 December 1983

Just William, More William, William Again, William the Fourth 
by Richmal Crompton and Thomas Henry.
Macmillan, 215 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 333 35848 1
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... sum for the poor heathen. He does not, however, put the three-halfpence back. So skilfully does Richmal Crompton mitigate her young monster’s excesses, while sprinkling him sparsely with manly virtues, that he has long been hailed as the all-too-human universal boy, even a lovable one, and has been accepted as such from Iceland to Czechoslovakia. A ...

He don’t mean any harm

John Bayley, 28 June 1990

A.A. Milne: His Life 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 554 pp., £17.50, June 1990, 0 571 13888 8
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... Wodehouse with the children’s poet Rodney Spelvin – a good-natured dig but spot-on – and Richmal Crompton, whose William has very little time for ‘Anthony Martin’, whom he once encounters in the flesh. Yet William is an equally reassuring figure, whom we know will grow up sound, just as Milne himself did, according to the not unmalicious ...

Somebody Shoot at Me!

Ian Sansom: Woody Guthrie’s Novel, 9 May 2013

House of Earth: A Novel 
by Woody Guthrie.
Fourth Estate, 234 pp., £14.99, February 2013, 978 0 00 750985 0
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... and often carelessly discarded. Guthrie, like, say, Balzac, Simenon, Joyce Carol Oates, Bob Dylan, Richmal Crompton and Stephen King, was basically a writing machine, someone constantly in the process of noting, notating and composing. Born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912, Guthrie was brought up in Texas, then lived in California, New York and Florida, but he ...
... retire to the countryside, where Charles starts dressing up and play-acting as a little boy out of Richmal Crompton, complete with shorts, catapults and a tree house. In Enduring Love, five men attempt to stop a hot-air balloon, whose basket contains a small boy, from rising. Hanging onto the ropes that dangle from the basket, they constitute a little ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries, 28 July 2011

... a little private library, costing 6d a week, which in the children’s section had a whole run of Richmal Crompton’s William books. I devoured them, reading practically one a day, happy in the knowledge that there would always be more. Years later when I first read Evelyn Waugh I had the same sense of discovery: here was a trove of books that was going ...

Fire and Ice

Patrick O’Brian, 20 April 1989

Fire Down Below 
by William Golding.
Faber, 313 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 571 15203 1
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... also capable of childishness and longueur. His comic little brothers and midshipmen are worthy of Richmal Crompton; his deeply-held conviction that all nautical expressions are funny all the time wears the spirit almost as much as his tireless use of ‘hutch’ for cabin. And on a more serious level it does seem to me that many of Talbot’s more ...

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