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Just William: Richmal Crompton

just-williamAt the mention of the loveable school character ‘Just William’, you think of Richmal Crompton, the schoolteacher who created this cheeky character.

On the 15th November 1890, Richmal Crompton Lamburn was born in Bury, Lancashire to the Reverend Edward Lamburn and his wife Clara.

Richmal was educated at a boarding school for daughters of the clergy at St.Elphins in Warrington, originally a former convent.  Many, have reported to have seen a Nun, walking the dark corridors at night.  In 1904, she attended Darley Dale School, overlooking the moors, then later attended the Royal Holloway College in Surrey to take her degree.  In 1914, she returned to St.Elphin’s School as the classics mistress, later moving to Bromley High School.

For many years Richmal enjoyed the art of writing, but her first publication as a serious writer appeared in a 1918 issue of ‘Girl’s Own Paper’, featuring the exploits of Thomas a young boy who reacted against authority.  Then in 1919 ‘Just William’ was born, for the ‘Home Magazine’, and in 1922 a collection of twelve stories were released in book form, aimed at the juvenile market.  So began the renowned series of ‘Just William’ books.

In 1923, she was struck down with polio, loosing the use of her right leg, remaining lame for the rest of her life.  This impediment proved a strain in her teaching profession, leading to her early retirement, to concentrate on her writings.

Richmal is remembered for her 38 ‘Just William’ books, bringing out the cheekiness of William, and enlightening young and old with her writings.  Her career came to an abrupt end, when she suffered from a heart attack and died in January 1969, at her home in Chislehurst, Kent.  She left behind thousands of ‘Just William’ fans, the world over.  They will always remember the saga of that scruffy boy, who became a cult figure in literature.

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One thought on “Just William: Richmal Crompton

  1. I was a huge fan of William. I emigrated to England from Canada in 1967, and lived for awhile with my mum and my maiden aunt in a huge Georgian house in a little village. I loved explorig the old attic and I discovered lots of books – including many ‘Just Williams’ – in old brown covers (possible first editions). Being 12 at the time, I could relate to him and even made up bottles of liquorice water…great times 🙂


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