William the Bold cover.jpg

(1990 ed., Macmillan Children’s books)

‘What about that play you were goin’ to write?’ said Ginger.

William set to work. The others gathered around him, peering over his shoulder.

seen one pallis king seeted enter perkin warbeck disgized as george washington.

king. hello george washington cum in I’ll ask my mother if thou can stay to tea theres creem buns and sum jelly left over from sundy.

‘You see, he doesn’t know he’s a rebel,” explained William in parenthesis. “He thinks he’s jus’ an ordin’ry visitor.’

george washington (throing off disgize). I am not george washington thou villun I am perkin warbeck and I have cum to waid in they blud. exit king run after by perkin warbeck with ax.

Seen two a corpse enter rebbles.
Rebbles. Theres a pretty shady corpse over yonder lets sit on it.

They gathered around him again.

‘What do they want to sit on a dead body for’? said Henry.

‘It’s not a dead body,’ said William in exasperation. ‘Corpse means “wood” in plays an’ po’try. An’ it’s not “on”. It’s “in”.’

Why don’t you cross your “i’s”, then? said Henry. ‘An’ I’ve never come across “corpse” meanin’ “wood”. It always means “dead body” in the books I’ve read’.

–Richmal Crompton, William the Bold (1950)


6 thoughts on “Bookquotes: Quotes from Books (5)

  1. I read a lot of William books as a kid and a lot of this sort of punning went clear over my head, though I knew it was somehow making fun of my age group. A few scenarios stuck in my head because I subsequently found them screaming funny, particularly William overhearing his brother Robert wooing a lady friend and comparing her to a Bottled Cherry painting. At the very least the William books were educative as from this I knew how to pronounce Botticelli. 😀

    On another matter, I was convinced I was already following you but I find I wasn’t — I’ve now rectified that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oddly- I never read these as a child through these were (and are) among my mother’s favourites. I don’t think my library back then had these and my mother hadn’t got any of her old ones any more so I only began reading these around when I was in college. One appreciates them in different ways as a child and as an adult, I lost the chance of enjoying them that way. I love the humour of course but also the illustrations especially, the 1920s and ’30s ones in the earlier books.

      Liked by 1 person

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