Richmal Crompton’s library tells a story

The archive at Roehampton includes Richmal Crompton’s personal library which was moved from her last home. This tells its own story about her reading and writing life. In forthcoming posts I will dip into this aspect of her life and share some of the material that the archive holds.

One such story lies in a number of books that are included in the library and were all published in the 1950s when Richmal Crompton was in her sixties. In one of these books she had placed within one of the pages a small inscription from the inside page of a long forgotten treasure. It looks like this:

(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)
(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)

You can just see the initials C.L. under ‘Christmas 1911’. Clara Lamburn was the name of Richmal’s mother. This is her married name. Crompton being her maiden name and one that Richmal carried into her professional writing life. In 1911 Richmal would have been 21 year’s old, so perhaps this page comes from a special book given to her by her mother on her birthday. Although, this is only speculation on my part.

This is a fragment found in another book from the library. The front cover of the card has been torn off.

(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)
(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)

My understanding is that John was the name often used for Richmal’s brother, Jack. So, this is another fragment, this time from her childhood, which she kept all her life.

And in another book from her library was this family momento. This is the front of a home made Christmas card:

(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)
(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)

And this is the inscription inside the card:

(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)
(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)

Now, Edward was the name of Richmal’s nephew and lying beside the card in the same pages of the book in which this Christmas card was found lay this portrait:

(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)
(University of Roehampton, Archives and Special Collections)

Edward was blonde as a boy and it is possible that she has been sent a portrait of him. Perhaps it was painted by her sister, Gwen.

In the moment of looking at these books and fragments from her past we can feel a connection between the value of Richmal Crompton’s library, her individual books and these fragments which resonate so strongly with her family life. Of course I have made some connections of my own, but they feel authentic?

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