Fourth IABA Europe Conference Papers

Understanding Literary Diatexts: Approaching the Archive of Richmal Crompton, the Creator of ‘Just William’ Stories


  • Jane McVeigh University of Roehampton



feminine middlebrow, archives, intra-actions, Richmal Crompton


Richmal Crompton was born in Bury, Lancashire on 15 November 1890 and she wrote and published ‘Just William’ stories from 1919. She was very prolific, and published thirty-eight ‘Just William’ story collections, some forty novels and other short story collections. She is most famous for her stories about an eleven year old boy called William who features in the ‘Just William’ stories. Crompton often wrote ideas on fragments of paper. Her archive at the University of Roehampton also includes letters and other documents from fans, friends, family, local organisations and businesses which have, on the other side, ideas for her stories. The archive houses Crompton’s library taken by her family from her last home. Personal notes and postcards from friends were found inside these books. Moreover, the archive includes other personal items, such as her desk, typewriter and glasses. This essay will consider how we can understand the archive of the author, Richmal Crompton, based on a diatextual analysis that draws connections across the fluid boundaries that all of this material creates within this physical and imaginative space.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on October 1st 2015 and published on 22 June 2016.

Author Biography

Jane McVeigh, University of Roehampton

Jane McVeugh is an Honorary Research Fellow for the Department of English & Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. She is currently working on her first book, Contemporary British Literary Biography: Haunting Conversations. Her research is on contemporary life-writing and the work and archive of Richmal Crompton, held at the University of Roehampton.





Fourth IABA Europe Conference Papers