Richmal Crompton.1


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.


11 thoughts on “About

  1. After an amazing coincidence today, I was researching Richmal’s work and found your blog. So really looking forward to future posts.


  2. Hello. Can you tell me why you believe that Richmal Crompton was not involved at all in the suffrage movement when every site I have seen that writers about her claims she was involved in the movement? I am writing a blog about my personal interest in her novels but cannot find any information that confirms either yes or no. Although I have not read the book “The Woman Behind William: Life of Richmal Crompton”; Paperback – July 23, 1993 by Mary Cadogan; this author claims Richmal Crompton was involved in the suffrage movement. From the exceprts I have read of Cadogan’s book, she also claims Richmal does not present any kind of feminist leanings in her novels. I don’t agree with that for a number of reasons. But we all read books differently!


  3. Hello. Yes, you raise an interesting point. In her biography, Mary Cadogan makes a distinction between Richmal Crompton’s experience as, what she calls, a suffragist – she certainly supported votes for women – and suffragettes, a movement that Cadogan suggests she did not join. In the biography, she also argues that, in her view, Crompton was only seriously involved in feminist issues when she was at college.
    I would not suggest that this collection of short stories, ‘A Monstrous Regiment’, is representative of all of Crompton’s writing. It is certainly the case that women are portrayed in all sorts of different ways in her novels, but I am keen not to make too many generalisations. Having said that, however, I would agree that she is very concerned with the lives of women throughout her novels and short stories. A number of her female characters struggle to come to terms with the social conventions of the early twentieth-century, others challenge them head on, and some try to circumvent them.
    Thanks for getting in touch.


    1. Hi Tim,
      Thanks for getting in touch. I am writing the biography now and it will be published in 2022, which is the hundredth anniversary of the first Just William book. What is your interest in Richmal Crompton?


      1. That’s fantastic to hear! It’s nice to hear that the anniversary of the publication of the first two books will be commemorated in some way. My interest is the William stories, but I’ve recently started learning more about Richmal and I want to read some of her adult novels. Have you read Mist and other stories? If so, would you recommend it? If not, what would be a good novel to start with?


  4. Hi,

    Long-time admirer of Crompton’s William stories here, and much looking forward to your new biography!

    Am curious about the bibliographic history of the Jimmy stories — I have the two paperbacks issued by Macmillan in 1999 and 2000: do these include all the Jimmy tales originally published by Armada in three paperbacks in the 1960s? Are there any additional, as of yet unreprinted, Jimmy stories?

    Much obliged!



    1. Hello Alvaro,

      Nice to hear from you.

      Sixty-two Jimmy stories were published by Newnes, Jimmy (1949) and Jimmy Again (1951), and the Macmillan books are reprints. Armada published the same stories in three books. There were eighty-seven Jimmy stories in all, published in The Star newspaper between 1947 and 1951. The Just William Society has published for members the twenty-five stories not included in the books as Jimmy Returns in five short volumes.



  5. Hello Janet. I am a 73 year old psychotherapist and writer fan of William. I even joined the William society during my years in London.
    One of my favourite stories of William is when Violet Elizabeth forces him to say he likes girls games, girls and finally that he would have liked to have been a girl.
    Please, let me know when your biography of Richmal comes out.


    1. Hello, Thanks so much for getting in touch. My days are filled at the moment with writing, rewriting and editing and my deadline is fast approaching. Your interest, plus a daily dose of William, are just what I need to keep me going, thank you. With luck, the biography should be published early next year. Richmal is a fascinating woman and I am constantly astonished by her creativity and imagination.


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