Just genius … William’s creator

It was good to see journalist David Aaronovitch singing Richmal Crompton’s praises in The Times on 13th February.


Aaronovitch argues that Richmal Crompton “created one of the great characters of English literature. And that the way she did it means she stands comparison with Wodehouse and Waugh…. William is almost always on the side of the tramp, the underdog and the rebel in the face of wealth and authority. And though her hero professes to disdain girls, Crompton’s females are invariably reluctant to accept the demure straightjacket society seeks to impose on them” (The Times 13th February 2019). This is, as he suggests, true of Violet Elizabeth, who is a natural rebel and fighter: “I can” is one of her mantras. It is also true of many of the women characters in her novels. Others, however, like William’s sister Ethel, are representative of convention and restraint, but then like her father and brother she just thinks that William is mad. They utterly fail to understand him, whilst we as Crompton’s readers do.

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