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Richmal Crompton has long been overshadowed by her creation Just William, but the darker side of her imagination is set to be rediscovered, with several of her lesser-known adult novels coming back into print. Although best known for her 38 books about the errant schoolboy William Brown and his gang of Outlaws, Lancashire-born Compton was a prolific writer for both children and adults, often publishing two books a year, as well as writing short stories magazines.
The eight books are part of a forgotten backlist written by Crompton before the second world war. Her comic creation went on to eclipse these works aimed at older readers, but they were bestsellers when they first appeared.
Set in a quiet English village that is ruled by Miss Mitcham, who brutally tears apart the lives of those who cross her. Though regarded as an excellent teacher, she was forced to give up aged 33 after contracting polio and losing the use of her right leg. In , she published her first Just William story in Home magazine, and turned to writing professionally.
Within three years of leaving teaching her earnings from books and short stores had enabled her to have a house built for herself and her mother.
While she never married, she was an aunt and great aunt to an extended family, which undoubtedly provided a rich source of material for her work. Despite this success, she regarded her real work as her adult fiction.