WELCOME TO THE RICHMAL CROMPTON READER
I am currently working on Richmal Crompton Lamburn’s biography, which is due for publication in 2022, the hundredth anniversary of the first Just William collection.
Richmal was born on 15 November 1890 and died in January 1969. She was writing until the very end of her life. How can the story of her life grasp the scope and richness of her writing and bring her to life in a way that challenges some of the myths about both her life and writing? Facts about her birth and death say something about the period in which she lived, but what can they say about the characters she brings to life in her books? True, she writes about the world she knows.
These are the bare facts about her life. Following her early life in Bury, Lancashire and life as a student at Royal Holloway, she became a teacher at St Elphins School in Warrington, where she had been a pupil. Following the death of her father, Richmal then followed her sister and mother to live in Bromley, Kent, in 1917. She was publishing ‘Just William’ stories from 1919. She was an experienced teacher and worked at Bromley High School until her life took a different direction. Richmal Crompton contracted poliomyelitis in the summer of 1923. She subsequently gave up teaching to become a full time writer. Her books include ‘Just William’ collections, forty novels, ten other short story collections and radio plays.
I am currently Honorary Research Fellow in the Humanities Department at the University of Roehampton. I have been undertaking research in the Richmal Crompton Collection held at the university since 2014. Her adult novels and short story collections are largely forgotten today and need, in my view, to be brought to a wider audience. They have more in common with William Brown than those who pigeonhole her as a writer for children might think.
In this blog I will share aspects of my reading journey through her work and some of my experiences as her latest biographer.