Richmal Crompton Library Display

After recently installing a glass cabinet in the main library area at Bury (to be used for promotional material and reading displays), we thought it might be a good idea for one of our first displays to feature a local author! And it’s no surprise we unanimously decided upon Bury’s most famous writer, Richmal Crompton. Her Just William series have delighted millions of children through several decades and although those readers are now all grown up, we hope that the younger generation might swap their ‘Horrid Henry’s’ for an alternative ‘naughty boy’ story from a different era!

Photograph Display

Photographs taken from 1990 Richmal Crompton Centenary Exhibition

Here are 10 facts surrounding Richmal Crompton’s life taken from various Local Studies sources:

  • Richmal Crompton was born on 15th November 1890 at number 519 Manchester Rd, Bury.
  •  The name Richmal is derived from the names Richard and Mary and has been in the family since the early 1700s.
  • Richmal’s father, Edward Lamburn, took up his first full-time teaching post at Bury Grammar school in 1876. In 1884 he was ordained deacon and obtained the curacy of Radcliffe Parish Church.

Richmal Crompton’s father, Edward Lamburn, seated with his form at Bury Grammar School c1890s

  • Richmal’s maternal grandfather, John Battersby Crompton, owned a chemist shop on Stanley Street, Bury. In 1892 he took his own life by drinking prussic acid.
  • Richmal’s younger sister, Phyllis, died prematurely in 1895 after contracting whooping cough at the age of 14 months.
  • Richmal and her family moved to Malvern Villas, at Chesham Rd, Bury in 1896.
Lamburn Family Photograph

The Lamburns (Richmal seated) in the garden of No. 4 Malvern Villas c1897

  •  Richmal left Bury at the age of 23 and lived most of the rest of her life in Kent.
  •  Richmal’s first volume of William stories Just William was published in 1922.
  • Richmal wrote over 40 William books, the final one being completed after her death by her niece, Richmal Ashbee.

  •  Richmal Crompton died on 11th January 1969 following a heart attack.
Photograph of Richmal Crompton

Richmal Crompton 1925

Next time you pop into Bury Library, please take a look at our display and why not discover (or re-discover) the delights and escapades of William Brown by borrowing one of the novels?! Alternatively, browse our library catalogue for available titles and reserve your copies.



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9 Responses to Richmal Crompton Library Display

  1. Mark Hone says:

    The display looks very interesting. It’s a pity you didn’t get in touch with us as I have done quite a bit of research on Richmal Crompton’s connections with Bury Grammar School. Her brother, John Crompton Battersby Lamburn was an old boy of the school and served as one of the inspirations for ‘Just William’. He was a published author himself and there are rumours that he collaborated with his sister on some of the ‘William’ books, certainly suggesting plot lines. Their father Edward Lamburn was a much-loved teacher at Bury Grammar School and I have several pictures of him in the school archives. He died suddenly in March 1915, while still a teacher at the school and was much mourned. Although John Lamburn did not serve in the front line in the Great War, serving in the Rhodesian Police most of his friends and classmates saw active service and several were killed. Two of Richmal’s first cousins and near neighbours in Chesham Road, BGS old boys Harry Crompton Smith and Arthur Openshaw Siddell Smith died. They are amongst the six pairs of brothers on our school war memorial. Harry Smith of 26th Royal Fusiliers, died of illness while training in Aldershot in Januray 1916. His brother Arthur, of 23rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds on 9th June 1918. See:

    Click to access Filename.ashx

    John Lamburn served as an RAF air traffic controller in the Second World War and was at one time stationed in Iceland with Wing Commander C.G. Wigglesworth, allegedly one of the inspirations for W.E. Johns’ famous character James Bigglesworth, aka ‘Biggles’. ‘Just William’ meets ‘Biggles’!
    Best wishes,
    Mark Hone
    Head of History and Politics

    • buryculture says:

      Hello Mark, Thanks for your comments and the information on Richmal Crompton’s relatives. Sounds like the family endured a lot of personal tragedy – I think your valuable information would provide material for a whole new blog post! The display in the library is a very small one, what we hope to do is encourage library users to discover the Just William series for themselves. If you would be interested in being a guest blogger we could develop a new post focusing on Richmal Crompton’s connections with Bury Grammar School? I think you have my email address so please get in touch and we can discuss it further! Regards, Wendy

  2. Reblogged this on Library Reader Blog and commented:
    Take a look at this brilliant new display in Bury Library.

  3. Hi, I was intrigued by this post (let me start off by saying I live in Pennsylvania, USA, and I don’t know how I happened upon your blog, having no connection to Bury at all, but I am glad I did, you have a really interesting home town). I love to read and for some reason this author’s story caught my interest. I was not familiar with the William books, so I checked out a couple from our local library. Those, I was not so interested in, though I see the appeal. But, I also ordered three of Crompton’s adult novels and loved them. Just my kind of thing – and I also like the trip back in time I made while reading, as well as enjoying the characters and story. Thanks for the post!

    • buryculture says:

      Hi Claudia, Thanks for your lovely comments. I’m so pleased our post whetted your appetite for the literature of Richmal Crompton, which of her adult novels would you recommend reading first? I’m really keen to read one after reading your comments!

      • I’ve only read three, but I liked them all, and I plan to track down some more. Here’s my take on the three: Steffan Green, Caroline, and The Old Man’s Birthday. I think my favorite was the last one – I enjoyed the interplay of all the characters, although there are a LOT of them and you have to pay attention to keep track. Still, I liked the interlocking stories and the common thread of the family patriarch. Caroline was my least favorite, though maybe the most tightly plotted – I thought it was kind of predictable, the older sister raising younger siblings who then grow up and want their own lives – but once again, I really liked the characters and I cared what happened to Caroline. Steffan Green was also very good, a divorced woman making a new life for herself in a village and how she finds a new place to belong. As you can see, these are everyday themes about ordinary people and yet to me, there were a lot of touching moments and I did care about the characters in each book. Of course these novels are all products of their time with social attitudes and so on, and I also think the author sometimes might have done better to pack a little less into each book – there were parts to be resolved that sometimes felt rushed. And some that were outright unrealistic, I thought! But, plain and simple, I enjoyed the books and found them leaving a smile on my face. I couldn’t find them in my library, even county-wide, so I bought them from Amazon (I don’t usually buy books as I get them from the library, we have a very good large county system and a good selection) and I’d like to get some more. I hope you enjoy them and I’d love to hear what you think.

      • buryculture says:

        Thanks for your recommendations, unfortunately, we don’t hold any of those titles in our library! We do, however, have a few others – one of them being ‘Millicent Dorrington’. I think I will start with this one as it is set in a northern mill town (I’m thinking echoes of Bury’s past here). I’m really looking forward to it. ‘Steffan Green’ sounds interesting, divorce must have been quite a difficult subject to deal with back then. I’ll try and locate a copy of it. Goodreads is a fantastic resource, we use it quite a lot. I’ll let you know how I get on, thanks again!

      • Oh, that’s great, I’d love to hear what you think of the books you are able to find. I can buy them on Amazon, and I’ve been happy to do that. I’m Saving another purchase for a treat for myself. I also plan to look up other authors writing in the same manner (Goodreads again being helpful). I’m enjoying this bit of serendipity in meeting through our common interest in this author, though we came from such different directions!

      • PS I forgot to say, I found a lot of good info on Goodreads that helped me pick out these three to start with.

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