Richmal Crompton Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of Richmal Crompton, relating to her personal life and to her work as an author.

The collection includes:

  • Richmal Crompton's personal library, with many books annotated by Richmal Crompton
  • Many editions and translations of the William stories
  • A set of Richmal Crompton's fiction for adult readers
  • Bibliographic material
  • Travel notebooks
  • Notes for short stories
  • Scripts, including short stories or radio plays
  • Fan letters and drawings
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs of Richmal Crompton's family, going back to the late 1800s
  • Memorabilia and ephemera including Just William cups, theatre models, Richmal Crompton’s glasses, and the author's desk

Administrative / Biographical History

Richmal Crompton was an author, best known for her "Just William" children's fiction books, although she also wrote adult fiction.

Richmal Crompton (also known as Richmal Crompton Lamburn) was born in Bury, Lancashire, in 1890. Her parents were Edward John Sewell Lamburn and Clara Lamburn (née Crompton). She had three siblings: Gwen (born 1889), Jack (born 1893) and Phyllis (born 1894 and died aged 14 months). In 1901, Richmal Crompton attended St Elphin's Boarding School in Warrington, Lancashire, then moved with the school to Darley Dale, Derbyshire. In 1911 she attended Royal Holloway College, Surrey, on a scholarship, where she studied Classics.

In her early life, Richmal Crompton worked as a school teacher, first going to work at St Elphin's Boarding School in 1914, then moving to Bromley High School, Kent, in c1917.

In 1917, she wrote her first William story, "The Outlaws", although this was published later. Her first story to be published was about a boy named Thomas, and was published in "The Girls’ Own Paper" in 1918. "Rice Mould Pudding" was the first William story to be published, and was published in "Home" magazine in 1919. Richmal Crompton's first adult fiction book to be published was "The Innermost Room", which was published in 1923.

After contracting polio in 1923, Richmal Crompton lost the use of her right leg; because of this, she retired from teaching, remaining in Bromley and instead focusing on her writing work.

Several William stories were published in "Home Magazine" from 1919 to 1922, and in "Happy Mag." from 1922 to 1940; William stories have also appeared in other publications. In addition, 39 William books have been published, with the last published in 1970 after Richmal Crompton's death (she died at her home in Chislehurst, Kent, in 1969). The William stories have been adapted for film, television, radio and the stage.

Other children's books written by Richmal Crompton include "Enter - Patricia" (published 1927), and three "Jimmy" books (published 1949-1965).

Richmal Crompton also published 50 books for adults, with the last published in 1960s.

Conditions Governing Access

Most records within this collection are open for access.

Archives, manuscripts and most artefacts are available for consultation by appointment only; we require a 24 hour notice. (Please note that you need to contact us by Thursday afternoon if you wish to visit us on the following Tuesday.) Books and certain artefacts (Richmal Crompton's desk and chair) can be viewed without an appointment at any time during the archive opening hours.

Opening times: In term time, the Archives and Special Collections are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 10am - 4pm. Outside term time the Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only.

Appointments can be made by contacting the archivist using any of the methods below:

Email: archives@roehampton.ac.uk

Telephone: 020 8392 3323

Postal address: Archives and Special Collections, Library and Learning Services, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, London, SW15 5SZ.

The Archives and Special Collections are located on the fourth floor of the University Library.

(Some records within this collection are closed and not available for research. For further information, please contact the archivist using the contact details above.)

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Richmal Crompton's heirs and executors in 2007-2014.

Other Finding Aids

The books and publications in the collection have been individually catalogued in the University of Roehampton's library catalogue (choose collection "Richmal Crompton Collection" in advanced search if you want to limit your search to this collection only): http://capitadiscovery.co.uk/roehampton

Archivist's Note

Description created in June 2015.

Related Material

Related material held by Archives and Special Collections includes:

  • The Children's Literature Collection, containing published books and resources relating to children's literature. See reference code: CLC
  • The Froebel Archive for Early Childhood Studies, containing the records of Froebel College and focusing on the training of kindergarten teachers, research into early childhood and the Froebelian method of teaching. See reference code: FA
  • The records of the National Froebel Foundation, a body to oversee courses for kindergarten teachers and to promote the Froebelian method of teaching young children. See reference code: NFF