Wednesday, the 7th of September, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Richmal Crompton’s William books were my mom’s favourite childhood books, and while I did read many of her childhood books when I was the child (one’s she managed to find again for me), the Williams are not among them. Richmal Crompton’s William books first appeared in 1922 (he turns 100 this year as I also mentioned in my Book Anniversaries post), and are centred around 11-year-old William Brown a school boy, his family and friends in a small English village. There are 38 books in all, all collections of short stories. Published over a 50 year period, these book also reflect the time in which they were written in terms of story themes and other elements. The books were illustrated by Thomas Henry and later Henry Ford. I started reading William only as an adult and absolutely loved them and pick one up whenever I find one. The stories incidentally were originally written for adults by Crompton, though they became popular as children’s stories.

The volume I’ve picked today, William the Outlaw, was the latest I added to my shelves sometime mid-last year. The seventh in the series, William the Outlaw was first published in 1927 and is illustrated by Thomas Henry. The edition I have is a paperback published by Macmillan Children’s Books. This has 10 stories including the titular ‘William the Outlaw’, where William and his friends decide to become ‘outlaws’ with no more school, teachers, or parents. In another story, he decides to turn the ‘clean, quiet, and very obedient’ Georgie Murdoch (just the kind of son his mother wants) into a ‘wild, muddy, noisy outlaw, just like himself’.

There’s nothing like a William story to cheer one up, for the stories and characters, and also the humour. I always enjoy reading them, and especially the illustrations which reflect period detail so well from clothes to other details. So certainly a collection I want to be picking up, as soon as I can manage.

Have you read the William books or any of Crompton’s other titles (I read my first Steffan Green last year and loved it)? Which ones and how did you like them?

Lisa’s pick this week is Victories Greater Than Death (2021) by Charlie Jane Anders, a young adult scifi title.

**Just wanted to add that I have been behind both writing posts and erratic with reading the blogs I follow because of having a little too much on my plate at the moment. Apologies to those whose posts I haven’t been able to keep up with. I will try and catch up soon.

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27 thoughts on “Shelf Control #199: William the Outlaw by Richmal Crompton

  1. I read several William books as a teen but not since, though Emily’s got a collection of recent reissues out of nostalgia which I keep meaning to dip into. Perhaps I’ll see if I can read (or reread) one at a time in its centenary year!

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  2. My brother had many of the William books, Mallika, and I read all the ones he had but I don’t remember this particular one. I always enjoyed them and must keep a watch for them in the second hand stores for my grandson. Great post!โค๐Ÿ“š

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  3. At last you’ve come to William! By the way, I didn’t know that he was reaching his 100th birthday this year! That’s amazing! For all those who have referred to me in their comments, I’m Mallika’s mother and William was always a favourite of mine, alongside Fatty and the other find-outers. I suppose the William books were considered boy’s books, as the first one (William the Detective) I got as a birthday gift was from a boy, probably chosen by his parents. We were both only 8 or 9 years old. I read it and loved it. Then on a visit to my Uncle’s house, I found that he had at least 20 hardbound Williams, which he acquired when he purchased someone’s entire library. My cousins didn’t care for books, so to my delight, I was given the lot.
    To come back to the issue of girls vs. boys’ books, perhaps, they were considered boy’s books as we didn’t have a single copy in our otherwise well stocked school library (Girls’ School, of course). But I don’t really accept that. The Outlaws adventures were incomplete without Joan, even when playing Red Indians, she was the Squaw. And who can forget, the lisping Violet Elizabeth Bott, who constantly trailed the four boys, much to their disgust. Of course, Ethel, William’s big sister and brother Robert’s girlfriends are described in great detail, including their outfits. William always had a soft corner in his heart for pretty blonde curls and damsels in distress, despite his tough and grimy exterior. Not really boy’s books, at all. Perhaps, they were meant for a more general readership.

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    1. That’s real luck: getting such a lot together. I think packaging or repackaging them as children’s books, and with a band of boys on the cover made them appear as ‘boys’ books in the popular imagination. After all, Crompton never intended them for children either. I aree about the detail–one of my favourite elements.

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      1. Yes it was, and they had no jackets, just the lovely old red, cloth binding, in some cases faded to a weird orange. I still hunt around in second hand bookstores for such treasures.

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  4. Despite being a voracious reader as a child, I never got to the William books. I have the Persephone edition of Family Roundabout buried in the TBR somewhere, and that will be the first Richmal Compton I’ve read! I hope you enjoy this when you get to it Mallika, it sounds delightful.

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    1. Family Roundabout is one I mean to read sometime. The only one of her books for adults I’ve read so far is Steffan Green which was excellent. The Williams are great fun, one can enjoy them as adults too. Do pick one up when you get the chance.

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