- Dec 22, 2014
- Wessex and Mercia
The William stories went on far too long, he was a child of the '20s to the early '50s and the later stories generally don't work (there are exceptions, of course) After all they spanned from 1922 to 1970 by which time William would have been in his sixties! There were also the Jimmy stories about a younger child which also don't work IMO.
The only other novels of hers I've read were "of their time".
William has attracted some controversy https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/may/04/rorycarroll although this article doesn't mention the generally moral ending to the stories. William and the Nasties being Crompton's swipe at the Nazis (The Outlaws decide to take what they want from a Jewish sweet shop owner as it's what happens in Germany, despite many misgivings they go ahead but end up saving the owner from a burglar. The owner befriends them and they renounce any fascist ideas) Also Jumble's ratting abilities don't fit contempory sensibilities. The two stories were omitted from later editions of William the Detective.
Interestingly I once asked a successful young Black British author what books inspired him as a young Black guy growing up in England. I thought he would bemoan the lack of Black characters to identify with as there can't have been many; but he answered; "William Brown, what young boy wouldn't identify with a naughty schoolboy?"
But, back to Holmes and Doyle!
The Guardian goes rather OTT with its selective quoting and gawdy hyperbole about "William and the Nasties". referring to it as
"William and the Nasties, a racist 1935 yarn in which the Outlaws emulate Hitler by persecuting Mr Isaacs, a stingy, hook-nosed Jewish sweet shop owner."
A PDF of the book is available online and I skimmed through it. William and his chums are initially suspicious of the new sweet shop owner as they don't think he will be as generous as his predecessor. However, after saving him from the thief (who sounds like a cockney geezer), Mr Isaacs lets them take as many sweets as they can carry, with the words:
"Take vatever you vant. You can have as much as you can carry,'' he went on with reckless generosity. "See how much you can carry."
Mr. Isaacs, still beaming upon them gratefully, saw them off at the shop door. " And ven you come to spend your Saturday
pennies here," he said, " you vill find that I still have not forgotten."
I can't see from the drawing whether Mr Isaacs has a "hook nose" or not, but such details obviously didn't stop The Guardian from their rant.
Whilst the language, notably depicting Mr Isaac's stereotypical accent, is clumsy and archaic, the overall message seemed to be that the "Nasties" (i.e. Nazis) got it very wrong and Jewish people can be as friendly and generous as anyone else.