A long-running series
of comic/adventure stories by Richmal Crompton about an 11-year-old English boy named William Brown.
William is a mischevious and adventurous, if mostly well-intentioned, boy, cheerfully indifferent to school
and the baffling (to him) rules of adult life.
The series is a strong user of Comic Book Time
; each book is set in the era in which it was written and yet William is 11 throughout. The first compilation of short stories was published in 1921 and the 39th in 1970.
The stories have been adapted numerous times for various media. Three movies (Just William, Just William's Luck
and William at the Circus
) were produced in The Forties
, as was a radio series. Later on, in The Nineties
, BBC released several Audiobook
adaptations of the stores read by Martin Jarvis, which are probably the most well-known adaptations to date.
No less than four TV series have been made based on the characters and stories. The first one, produced for BBC in 1962-63, was simply called William
whereas the three following series (in 1976, 1994 and 2010) all kept the Just William
This series provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless - William certainly thinks so, and he's even right about a vast number of them.
- All Dogs Are Purebred - Averted. Lord only knows what mix of breeds Jumble is. All the scruffy ones, presumably.
- Aloof Big Brother - William's "grown-up brother" Robert.
- Annoying Younger Sibling - He's the protagonist.
- Alpha Bitch - William's "grown-up sister" Ethel seems to have shades of this, being very beautiful and pretty fickle with her suitors. William for one is baffled by what others see in her.
- Anti-Hero - Type 1
- Arch-Enemy - Hubert Lane
- Book Dumb
- Catchphrase - "Crumbs".
- Deadpan Snarker - William tries to be this, but a lot of his sarcasms fail quite badly. His father is notably better at it.
- Fat Idiot - Hubert Lane and his chum Bertie Franks (both fall under Fat Bastard too.)
- Forgotten Trope - Several, given the periods the stories were written in. Good examples include an early 1920s version of the Red Scare and various World War II related tropes.
- Five-Man Band
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Violet Elizabeth Bott is extremely fond of the Outlaws in general and William in particular. The sentiment is not returned.
- Generation Xerox- One story focuses on the Outlaw's various schemes to get some fireworks for bonfires night, at the end of their story, their fathers, walking home from work, hijack the fireworks and begin reminiscing about their childhood exploits as a gang, which bear a suspicious resemblance to the Outlaw's
- Gender-Blender Name - An author with the first name of Richmal writing about a boy's adventures is a man, right? Wrong.
- Gift Giving Gaffe - One wonders what Aunt Emma was thinking, giving William a geometry set and a book on church history. Had she never met her nephew?
- Hypocritical Humor - Meta example: The stories often make fun of child-raising "experts" with no children of their own. The author, Richmal Crompton, was unmarried and childless for her entire life.
- I Am Not Shazam - Just William is merely the title of the first book: each book title uses the form "__ William", "William the __" or "William and __". The term is frequently used casually to refer to the series as a whole, though – and, in a rather odder tendency, to the main character (e.g. "...a classic child hero in the mould of Harry Potter, Charlie Bucket or Just William") as if it were his name... when it is in fact the perfectly serviceable William Brown.
- KidAnova - Despite claiming to not like girls, William does have a tendency to fall for the pretty ones — or at least the ones who aren't too silly in his opinion. Quite a number of them turn out to like him, too.
- Laser-Guided Karma/Karma Houdini - Both used frequently.
- Long-Running Book Series
- Love Makes You Dumb - Happens to several characters, including William on occasion, but Robert is the most prominent and most constant example.
- Misery Builds Character - William's parents are rather big on this. Maybe it was their Victorian childhood? (Even when they lived in The Seventies, and thus presumably grew up in The Fifties.)
- Naughty Is Good - Of course.
- New Neighbours as the Plot Demands - Especially in the stories written during the early Twenties before Crompton really soldified her supporting cast outside the Brown family.
- Noble Demon - William and his friends regularly picture themselves as robbers, pirates, kidnappers and so on and even name themselves 'The Outlaws' but they are almost never actively malicious (at least against the undeserving.)
- Not Allowed to Grow Up - William has been eleven since 1920. He will no doubt still be eleven in 2120, and quite right, too.
- Serial Romeo - William's older brother Robert.
- Sliding Scale of Beauty - Ethel is a 'world class beauty' with countless young men falling for her "red gold hair" and blue eyes.
- Spoiled Brat - Violet Elizabeth Bott, though with some traces of Spoiled Sweet, depending on the story.
- The Roaring Twenties - The original series setting.
- Standard '50s Father - William's father, although of course he was created in the twenties.
- Vague Age: While William is always 11 the ages of his 'grown up' brother and sister Robert and Ethel ranges from as young as 17 to as old as 22 depending on the story.
- World War II - The stories written during the war (all focus was on the Home Front). William is also noticibly less naughty, as he is too busy helping with the war effort to act up. Things still manage to go awry for him, though.
- Zany Scheme