In these days of Computers, iphones, e’mails and various other “modern technologies”,writers such as Richmal Crompton would be all but forgotten,I repeat, all but forgotten because, were it not for these same “technologies” the general public would not only have forgotten this brilliant lady, they would then know absolutely nothing about her.
It certainly seems to be a peculier”state of affairs”
that now, in this day and age,our children and grand-children do not seem to be at all interested in actually reading a book, All they do is hold a miniature contraption in their little hot hands and tap, tap, tap,— until their fingers end up with the “repetitive strain” syndrome and begorrah!!, they can then choose from a 1001 “computer-games” or read anything they want to,about anyone they want to,in two seconds flat, yet, no REAL BOOKS whatsoever adorn the shelves in their rooms. Sadly, READING & WRITING as we did, in the “OLD DAYS” is now “OLD HAT” (oh, the pity of that).
As professor Julius Sumner-Miller used to question on television, not too long ago, “why is this so”? . Were he alive today, he would be suitably shocked, as I am, about the fact that that the careers of writers etcetera, of our genre, are on extremely shaky ground right now and books and newspapers, as they once were, are steadily going “out of fashion”. Everything today is found “on-line”(as all of us “bloody oldies” whine).

“Lest we forget, LIFE, IS NOW ON THE “INTERNET”!!.

“On-Line” too, is the biography of “my subject” of this particular article, a great lady, a superb “writer”, and, had I been born in the English Suburb of Bury in 1888 and lucky enough to have met her in some shopping mall, or anywhere else, for that matter,over there, around the year of 1910, I would have courted this woman and, if SHE accepted my proposal, married her. One reason for my love of writing, ever since I read her books as a young lad, was, is and will be—–
RICHMAL CROMPTON .I will never forget the ” red hard-back” copies of the “William” series that I read and re-read, enjoying them time after time. Now, it is very difficult to get the original books, but a very wise and kindly birthday gift to me recently from a good friend, Errol Lynch, was a re-produced set of “Just William” and, at my “eventide” I find that I am, once again enjoying the subtle comedy prose that both children and adults can read and comprehend. No other author, male or female, in my opinion, could achieve this.
I really do not care what anyone, including the Internet would have us believe, Richmal Crompton would have to be the very BEST childrens’ “story-teller” ever. In addition, it is almost unbelievable that a man at age “closetoeighty” is still reading chapter after funny chapter and having a good chuckle at the antics of William Brown and his mates. Having a good BOOK in my hands seems to make life worthwhile.

This is how much I admire the woman, born Richmal Crompton Lamburn, on Saturday, the 15th of November, 1890, in the little Suburb of Bury in Lancashire, England, younger sister to Gwen who was 17 months older, elder brother Jack was born in 1893 and another younger sister,Phyllis, born 1894 but died just 14 months later, a victim of whooping cough. The Patriarch of this family wss a Clergyman/schoolmaster
Edward Lamburn and the Matriarch was Clara (nee Crompton).
To her family and friends, Richmal was known as “Ray” and strangely enough everyone thought that this writer was a man. However, after studying to be a teacher and graduating with a BA degree, she was “hit” with the dreaded “poliomyelitis” disease, was robbed of the use of her right leg and finally decided to become a professional writer, taking the “pen-name” Richmal Crompton. In her early “forties” Richmal suffered another “shock” when she was diagnosed with breast-cancer and had to undergo an operation Known as a “mastectomy”. Undeterred, permanantly in a wheelchair now, Richmal decided to put all her effort and talents into what is termed “professional writing”.

In addition to her “William” books, Richmal wrote many more novels which were published, but the master-stroke of this prolific writer was her story about 11year old William Brown who lived in “Country-England” with his parents, elder sister and brother Ethel and Robert and his “mongrel” dog Jumble. A typical “middle-class English family, they lived in a two-storey home where William’s upstair bedroom had a “convenient” window from which he could quite easily “climb out”, onto a giant tree, to scramble down in the effort to frequently escape the wrath of his family which also included a “cook” and a “maid”. To describe William to those who have not read about him is very simple. Being the youngest in the family, he was slightly favoured by his mother, but the “apple of her eye”, he was definitely not.

William Brown, as I previously said, was about 11 years old. Untidy, unkempt, spikey unruly hair, school cap worn at an impossible angle, features that only a mother would love, clothes and school uniforms almost always torn and in disarray, boots and shoes caked in mud, courtesy of the many ditches around, in fact, William Brown was your typical schoolboy scamp Of course, there were complete opposites like Georgie Murdoch, also 10 or, 11 years old but always clean and neat, wearing his pure white suit and featured in “William the outlaw”. Unfortunately, Georgie was the BANE of “the outlaws”, Ginger, Henry and Douglas, William’s best friends and “erring-buddies” who erred, in order to please their leader.

In the William Series, Richmal Crompton wrote 38 books about this rascal, true to life, mischievous, a typical “boy”, doing the things that most boys do, getting into trouble and involving his “outlaws” as well, getting “mixed-up” with the romantic antics of both Robert and Ethel, his older siblings,getting generous “tips”(a shilling here or a half-crown there), from the unlucky “lovers” of his brother and sister, sometimes, just to be left alone to fulfil their adult fantasies, he had absolutely “no time” for girls, except for Joan,the only female “outlaw”who was small, dark, with curly hair and pretty, who was certain that William was the greatest hero ever,followed him everywhere, and also another little “female follower” aged around 9 called Violet Elizabeth who was also pretty but lisped “I’ll thream and I’ll thream until I’m thick “if William ever refused to include her in his madcap schemes. His arch-enemy Hubert Lane, had his own “gang”, the “Lanites” and the Outlaws and Lanites were forever at each other, fighting battles both physical and mental, boyishly, once again, as boys around the world, do. Theirs was a fantasy world however, that is long since forgotten, more’s the pity.

Although I loved Richmal Crompton and her books, my primary reason for writing this article is the hope that it would, once again interest ESPECIALLY the younger generation in READING. Playing around with all your new “mod-cons” is fine, but do it to a limit. This present generation is sadly losing their way quite rapidly by “doing away” with reading BOOKS (as we knew them ). Although. as a result, it is becoming all too obvious that our International ENGLISH language is fast becoming obsolete snd the INTERNET language is taking over. The SNAILS are gone and E’mails are winning the race. The ONLY problem with this is that most people who write e’mails tend to make them as brief as possible,forgetting punctuation and other aspects of our language and trying their very best to shorten every single word. What was formerly your home-address has now become your e’mail address and PROOF of the abbreviations I am talking about goes like this, as the silliest example. (all lower-case).
countfangsdracula@translyvania.com. With the stupid lengthy NAME at the beginning, the word “AT” has been shortened to “@”. What is the sense in that?!
There is no such thing as “patience” anymore. Everything that could have been well thought-over and done WELL tomorrow HAS to be done on impulse & thoughtlessly, yesterday.Yesterday’s iphone is OLD!.

We have to get the new model the day before yesterday.

The problem, as I see it, is the fact that we DO NOT READ BOOKS ANYMORE. We do not take the trouble to learn to WRITE legibly anymore. In my day and age, only Doctors wrote illegibly. We are in too much of a hurry to do EVERYTHING. The result?, we do NOTHING.

Finally, back to the author I think the world of, Miss Richmal Crompton. I would strongly advise all parents concerned to make every effort to get their children to read at least ONE episode in “The William Series”.

There WILL be some words that the younger ones will not comprehend so, ensure that the kids have a good dictionary handy. This way, they will learn to increase their vocabulary, but rest assured. Once they read, understand, AND enjoy Richmal Crompton’s William, they will want to read more & more. They will, want to
READ, READ & READ, hopefully starting a habit of reading BOOKS with the same gusto as staring into a computer, iphone or ipad. I REST MY CASE!!..

Sadly, but strangely, Richmal Crompton, born on a Saturday, also died on a Saturday, the 16th of January,
1969 aged 78. It is said in a poem I read way back as a young lad, ” Saturday’s child works hard for a living”
and the good Lord knows, this lady, despite all the encumberances she suffered, worked very hard indeed
at what she loved. This is my tribute to her.


Desmond Kelly.

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