Friday, September 17, 2021

My hero / Richmal Crompton by Louise Rennison

 

Richmal Crompton, 1946


My hero: 

Richmal Crompton

 by Louise Rennison

Saturday 27 November 2010

I

love Just William. Not because he is a reminder of my childhood – I only read about him three years ago. I love him as a new discovery. It is, of course, a love tinged with enormous relief that I don't actually know him – that he has not, say, rifled through my drawers to make my best underwear into hats for his mad plays. Which, incidentally, always star him.

The stories make me laugh – that kind of laughing you can't stop and everyone wants to kill you. Then – gadzooks! – William's creator, Richmal Compton, turns out to be a girl. A comedy-genius-type girl. And she was writing when girls were mostly fainting or covered in net. (That, by the way, is my thumbnail sketch of the 1920s.)

William stayed as an 11-year-old from 1922, when the first collection of stories came out, until 1970, when William the Lawless, the last book, was published posthumously – in it, he gets a Beatles LP as a birthday present (John Lennon was a fan).

I know that I am a "girl" and therefore William would not have had much use for me. But I do agree with him on so many things. On parents, for example: why aren't we given more of a say in who we get as parents? William would like his father to be a clown. There is a bit in the story "The Circus" when he is desperate to see the clowns. But when he asks his father if he can go by himself (at nighttime), his father merely says: "Don't speak with your mouth full." And William thinks: "A clown would not have said this."

I suspect a clown father would have better things on his mind than table manners. Big shoes, for instance. The books are full of this kind of thing: clowns, adventures, selling twins as slaves, and so on.

Funny writing (Crompton, Dahl, Wodehouse) is underestimated. People still say to me: "When are you going to write a proper book and stop messing about?" And I always think: "A funny person would not say that."

THE GUARDIAN




2009
001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm

2010

017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

2011
079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill

2012

190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

2015
2016



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