Felicity Standing By William

Richmal Crompton creates a comic heroine in Felicity Stands By (1928), a collection of stories based on the antics of sixteen-year-old Felicity. She lives at the Hall with her sister Rosemary, her grandfather Sir Digby Harborough, his secretary Franklin, who is in love with Rosemary, Moult the butler, with occasional visits from her brother Ronald and her aunt Lady Montague – there always has to be an aunt. The book is held together by a loose plot that revolves around Franklin and Rosemary’s relationship and the years between Felicity leaving school and the dramatic moment when her plaits are snipped off and she, apparently, grows up.

Felicity’s “familiar demon of mischief” inspires all sorts of misadventures based on meddling, misunderstandings and mistaken identity.

In “Felicity Comes to Town”, Felicity has stolen some letters mistakenly believing that her sister, Rosemary, wants them back. However, Felicity realises that

she was making a distinct mess of the affair. Look at it in any way she would, she had to admit that she was making a distinct mess of it. She had taken the papers without making sure that they were Rosemary’s and—and they’d turned out not to be. They might have been, of course, but the fact remained that they weren’t. Then she had gone upstairs to put the letters back and left them behind on Marcia’s writing-table. Then she’d locked [someone] in the cupboard. She didn’t know how she was going to explain that …. In fact, she didn’t know how she was going to explain anything to anyone, and she saw the moment when explanations would be demanded not far ahead.

For Felicity, “Real life is very disappointing.” William would no doubt sympathise with her plight.

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