Richmal Crompton was born in Bury Lancashire in 1890. Trained as a school teacher, she is best known as the author of the famous ‘William’ books, thirty-nine of which were published between 1921 and 1970 (Crompton died in 1969). Throughout this fifty-year period Crompton’s protagonist, William Brown, the leader of a gang called The Outlaws, remained aged eleven. Apart from one novel, Just William’s Luck, Crompton’s impressive series comprised individual volumes full of short stories.
Famous for his mischievous behaviour, it might come as a surprise that William also served a useful propaganda purpose during wartime. The fact that Crompton was also a member of the Suffragettes might be another surprise.
Often reflecting current events, the William books mined a rich seam during the Second World War. In fact one volume, William The Dictator, published in 1938 at the time of the Munich Crisis, tackled Fascism before Hitler triggered the conflict by invading Poland. William and ARP was published in 1939 to be followed by William and the Evacuees and William Does His Bit in 1940.
A Guide to War Publications of the First & Second World War: From Training Guides to Propaganda Posters (Pen & Sword 2015 ISBN 10:1783831545)