Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Just William

Just William is the first book of children's short stories about William Brown written by Richmal Crompton, published in 1922. The William stories first appeared in Home and Happy Mag.

Table of contents
1 Contents
2 Characters
3 Plots
4 Illustrations
5 Other William Books
6 Radio
7 Television
8 Censorship



William is an eleven year old boy, eternally scruffy and frowning. William and his friends, Douglas, Henry and Ginger, call themselves the Outlaws, and meet at the old barn in Mr Jenkins' field. The Outlaws are sworn enemies of the Hubert Laneites with whom they frequently clash.

William's family, his grown up red-haired sister Ethel and brother Robert, caring mother and stern father, and never ending supply of elderly aunts cannot understand William. Only his mother has any sympathy for him.

Other reoccurring characters include Violet Elizabeth Bott, lisping spoilt daughter of the local aristocracy ("I'll squeam and squeam 'till I'm thick - I can, you know") and Joan, the dark haired girl whom William has a soft spot for.

William is adventurous, imaginative and a romantic. He writes stories - The Tale of The Bloody Hand and like to perform drama. He is fond of white rats, Bull's Eyes, 'Tops and cricket.


A William story often starts when William or the Outlaws set out to do something - put on a play, collect scrap metal for the war effort, look after Violet for example. William always manages to get into trouble with his parents, although he can never see why. Often his well meaning efforts result in broken windows and hysterics among Mrs. Brown's friends.

Sometimes William can be very moral - he is inspired to tell the truth for the duration of Christmas day in William's Truthful Christmas (Still William, 1952) with terrible results;

"Did you like the book and instruments that Uncle and I gave you?" said Aunt Emma brightly.
"No," said William gloomily and truthfully. "I'm not int'rested in Church History an' I've got something like those at school. Not that I'd want 'em," he added hastily, "if I hadn't em."
"William!" screamed Mrs. Brown in horror. "How can you be so ungrateful!"
"I'm not ungrateful," explained William wearily.
"I'm only being truthful...


All the William books until William and the Witch published in 1964 were illustrated by Thomas Henry in ink, with water colour illustrations for the front covers. After Henry's death in 1962, Henry Ford and Lunt Roberts (who had previously illustrated her Jimmy books) continued in his style.

Other William Books

William books continued to be written right up until Crompton's death with the last, William The Lawless, being published posthumously in 1970.

The publication dates are for the UK.

There was also a play, William and the Artist's Model, written in 1956.


The BBC has produced many recordings of William stories read by Martin Jarvis, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4. For many people, Jarvis is the definitive voice of William. His performances of William and Violet Elizabeth Bot are instantly recognisable.


There have been at least two television productions of William stories on the BBC.


William has been criticised by the RSPCA for stories where he is cruel to animals. For example, in one story he paints his dog blue as a circus exhibit. In another he has a competition to see how many rats his dog can kill in a certain time. Some stories have been removed from modern publication, such as William and the Nasties from William The Detective where William suspects a Jewish shop owner of dishonesty and forms a mob to evict him. This story was written in 1935 before the Second World War, and was probably meant as parody or was simply naive. Crompton herself decided the story was inappropriate and had it removed.