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Just (sic) William

January 29, 2018

I was reading Melanie Reid’s column in The Times today and she referred to the Just (sic) William stories. This recalled to me a post I did over five years ago about what those marvellous stories ought to be called. If you have been following this blog that long you’ll have seen it before, but if not it will be new to you. Here it is:

The William books should not be called the Just William books. They should be called the William books. But virtually everyone refers to them as the Just William books.

It came about like this. The first ever William book was entitled Just – William (note that dash, which seems to have been airbrushed out of literary history). All the later books had the name William in the title, but Just never reappeared; they were called such things as William the Outlaw, William the Good, William the Bad, William the Fourth, Sweet William etc etc. Yet somehow the title of the first book, minus the dash, stuck, and they came to be referred to as the Just William stories (perhaps by analogy with Kipling’s Just So stories?) When a TV series was made of these books in the 60s it was entitled Just William, and ever since that’s been the preferred term for the books and even for the character himself.

True William aficionados don’t like this, however – just as true Dr Who fans insist that their man is called The Doctor, not Doctor Who. But it’s probably too late to do anything about it now. Just William is the standard form, and whenever I refer to the William books people always say ‘Oh, you mean Just William?’ It’s easier to nod than go through all this.

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    There are a few Browns in children’s literature – William, Charlie, Tom, and Paddington lived with the Browns too.

  2. That is true! And rhe villain in John Masefield’s The Box of Delights is Abner Brown.

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    There was also a Tom Brown at Greyfriars.

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