Monday, 12 September 2016

William The Fourth. By Richmal Crompton

William The Fourth

Richmal Crompton

Macmillan Children's Books. First published 1924.

Fourteen rather brief stories describing William up to his usual shenanigans. Enjoyable reading, despite being repetitive. The first story pays passing heed to the left-wing political reaction to the gilded age. William's teenage brother and his friends set out to distribute wealth more fairly, but quickly change their minds when William, and his friends, redistribute their brothers' possessions. I have come across the same tired argument several times, both in comic settings, e.g. in PGW, as well in in more serious ones, e.g. in discussions with friends. It always fails to convince. Here of course, it is only a peg on which to hang a comic story, and may not actually reflect Crompton's politics. The other stories follow the standard hilarious templates. William has his photograph taken; helps unite a pair of lovers; has fun in the costume of a bear; takes his prim and proper aunt out to the fair, with surprising results; kidnaps a pretty and friendly little girl, who is quite willing to join in the fun; has a briefly riotous time in London; advertises and helps one of the local 'mom and pop' sweet shops over its corporate rival; manages to saddle a cat with two owners; arranges a show; and so on. Nice. 

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