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William the Fourth by Richmal Crompton
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William the Fourth (1924)

by Richmal Crompton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Just William (4)

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Breathtakingly funny when read as a very young boy & when I dip into its pages from time to time over 6 decades Crompton's deadpan delivery and (un)subtle wit, still cause bellyaching laughter at the scenes! ( )
  tommi180744 | Aug 24, 2016 |
William brightened. Then his eyes roved round the room to a photograph on a bureau by the window.
“Who’s he?” he said.
Miss Tabitha flushed again.
'He was once going to marry me,' she said. 'And he went away and he never came back.'
'Speck he met someone he liked better an' married her,' suggested William cheerfully
'I expect he did,' said Miss Tabitha.
He surveyed her critically.
'Perhaps he didn't like your hair not being curly' he proceeded. 'Some don't. My brother Robert he says if a girl's hair doesn't curl she oughter curl it. P'raps you didn’t curl it.”
“No, I didn’t.”


The book starts strongly with "The Weak Spot", in which Robert and his friends start a Bolshevik Society, only to think better of it when William and his friends decide to take their fair share of their older brothers' belongings.

As usual William gets into trouble wherever he goes, but he does have a good heart, and other high points are the Outlaws and Joan helping to save the local sweet shop (and making friends with a Duke) in "William Advertises", and William seeing off Ethel's unwanted suitor in "William Makes a Night of It". My least favourite of the stories by a long way was "William and the Black Cat".

Mrs Brown found her voice. “Do you mean—“ she gasped feebly, “do you mean that it was William all the time?”
Mr Brown rose wearily.
“Of course,” he said. “Isn't everything always William all the time?”
( )
  isabelx | Apr 27, 2014 |
I read the William books as a child, and despite being an obnoxiously well behaved child, I still wanted to think of myself as an "Outlaw".

I would recommend them to anyone of such an age. I think they are genuinely improving. Certainly my memory of William, as of the Swallows and Amazons, provides a well buried counter to my natural inclination towards the effete.

William also provides a good lesson in free will, independent spirit and free thought. Which cannot hurt. (Unless you wanted to make an extreme reading of the William stories as a prop to the capitalist establishment...)
1 vote OwenGriffiths | Jun 27, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richmal Cromptonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Henry, ThomasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"You see," said Jameson Jameson, "we're all human beings. That's a very important point. You must admit that we're all human beings?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0333662288, Paperback)

There is only one William. The loveable imp and his band of Outlaws have been harassing his unfortunate family and delighting hundreds of thousands of readers for years. Here, William invents a water race where competitors have to run with a mouth full of water, without swallowing it or spitting it out. It's just a shame he doesn't have time to think before speaking to (and drenching!) Mrs. Adolphus Crane during the race!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

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A collection of the exploits of a naughty boy and his gang of friends.

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