Richmal Crompton (1890-1969)

From Wikipedia:

“Richmal Crompton Lamburn was born in Bury, Lancashire, the second child of the Rev. Edward John Sewell Lamburn, a Classics master at Bury Grammar School and his wife Clara (née Crompton). Her brother, John Battersby Crompton Lamburn, also became a writer, remembered under the name John Lambourne for his fantasy novel The Kingdom That Was (1931) and under the name “John Crompton” for his books on natural history.

Richmal Crompton attended St Elphin’s Boarding School for the daughters of the clergy, originally based in Warrington, Lancashire. She later moved with the school to a new location in Darley Dale, near Matlock, Derbyshire in 1904. In order to further her chosen career as a schoolteacher, she won a scholarship to Royal Holloway College, part of the University of London in Englefield Green, Surrey. Crompton graduated in 1914 with a BA honours degree in Classics (II class). She took part in the Women’s Suffrage movement.

In 1914, she returned to St Elphin’s as a Classics mistress and later, at age 27, moved to Bromley High School in southeast London where she began her writing in earnest. Cadogan (1993) shows that she was an excellent and committed teacher at both schools. Having contracted poliomyelitis, she was left without the use of her right leg in 1923. She gave up her teaching career and began to write full-time. Later in her forties, she suffered from breast cancer and had a mastectomy.

She never married and had no children; she was an aunt and a great-aunt. Her William stories and her other literature were extremely successful and, three years after she retired from teaching, Crompton was able to afford to have a house (The Glebe) built in Bromley Common for herself and her mother, Clara.

In spite of her disabilities, during the Second World War she volunteered for the Fire Service.

Crompton died on 11th January, 1969 at the age of 78, after a heart attack, in Farnborough Hospital. Crompton had fallen ill on the drive home from visiting her niece’s home in Chelsfield, Kent. After feeling unwell during the night, Crompton telephoned friends the next morning and died within an hour of being taken to hospital.

Crompton left the copyright of all her books to her niece, Mrs Richmal C. L. Ashbee of Chelsfield, Kent…

…As for the source of inspiration of the main character William, Crompton never disclosed it and therefore different opinions exist. Presumably it was the result of mixing observations of children she worked with or knew with her own imagination. According to her niece Kate Massey, co-president of the Just William Society, Crompton completely captured the world of an 11-year-old boy, basing the character on her younger brother Jack. According to the (late) actor John Teed, whose family lived next door to Crompton, the model for William was Crompton’s nephew Tommy:

As a boy I knew Miss Richmal Crompton Lamburn well. She lived quietly with her mother in Cherry Orchard Road, Bromley Common. My family lived next door. In those days it was a small rural village. Miss Lamburn was a delightful unassuming young woman and I used to play with her young nephew Tommy. He used to get up to all sorts of tricks and he was always presumed to be the inspiration for William by all of us. Having contracted polio she was…confined to a wheelchair. Owing to her restricted movements she took her setting from her immediate surroundings which contained many of the features described, such as unspoilt woods and wide streams and Biggin Hill Aerodrome, very active in the Twenties.

Crompton’s fiction centres around family and social life, dwelling on the constraints that they place on individuals while also nurturing them. This is best seen in her depiction of children as puzzled onlookers of society’s ways. Nevertheless, the children, particularly William and his Outlaws, almost always emerge triumphant.

The William books have been translated into nine languages.”

From the website of the Chislehurst Society:

“In the early 1950s, she looked for a smaller house, and in 1954 she moved to live at Beechworth, a house in Chislehurst on Orpington Road, near Leesons Hill.  She continued her writing here, and became involved in the local community, as a church goer and supporter of the Conservative party. She also became interested in reincarnation, mysticism and the occult.

Source: Mary Cadogan’s biography “Richmal Crompton: the woman behind Just William”, (1986). Cadogan draws on the contents of Crompton’s novels and short stories to flesh out her life and beliefs.”

“The godfather of the American musical”

From the website Songwriters Hall of Fame:

“Jerome Kern was born in New York City on January 27, 1885. Growing up in the middle-class atmosphere of East 56th Street, he attended public schools. His first music teacher was his mother, followed by studies at the New York College of Music (1902-3) and further musical studies in Heidelberg, Germany (1903-4).

Returning to New York, he began working as a pianist for a music publisher, and soon began contributing songs to various musical shows. He quickly became a successful songwriter, and in 1915 with book-writer Guy Bolton, he began a series of intimate musicals for the 299-seat Princess Theatre.

Among Kern’s songs from the period up to 1927 were They Didn’t Believe Me, which many consider the first modern ballad, written in 1914 with Herbert Reynolds; Go Little Boat (1917, with P.G. Wodehouse); Look For the Silver Lining (1920, with lyrics by B.G. DeSylva).

In 1927, Kern teamed with Oscar Hammerstein II and the two adapted Edna Ferber’s novel into one of the greatest of all American musicals: Show Boat. Show Boat pioneered the concept of the fully integrated musical, with all aspects of the show working together toward a single artistic unity. Among the songs introduced in Show Boat were Old Man River, Bill (a lyric by P.G. Wodehouse, originally written for one of the Princess musicals, and revised by Oscar Hammerstein II), Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, Make Believe, and Why Do I Love You?

In the years following Show Boat, Kern continued to write for Broadway, producing such classic songs as The Song Is You (from Music in the Air, 1932, with Oscar Hammerstein II), Let’s Begin, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and Yesterdays (all from Roberta, 1933 with lyrics by Otto Harbach).

In 1935, Kern went to Hollywood, where he spent most of the rest of his career, writing some of his very best music. For the 1935 film of Roberta he wrote I Won’t Dance (originally written for Roberta‘s London production, but with new words by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh). For Swing Time (1936) he wrote A Fine Romance and The Way You Look Tonight (both with lyrics by Dorothy Fields). The Way You Look Tonight earned the Fields-Kern team a Academy Award for best song in 1936.

Returning to Broadway in 1939, Kern helped produced his last show: Very Warm for May. While the show was not successful, the score introduced one of the classic Hammerstein-Kern standards, All the Things You Are.

Back in Hollywood, for a film called You Were Never Lovelier in 1942, Kern wrote the classic I’m Old Fashioned with a lyric by Johnny Mercer. He continued writing for the film musicals including High, Wide and Handsome (1937) and Cover Girl (1944).

In the course of his career, Kern’s style showed a remarkable evolution toward greater and greater sophistication and a more and more American style. He was in many ways a link between the European operetta tradition and the Broadway musical style. Jerome Kern died in New York City on November 11, 1945.”

“As I wash my dishes, I’ll be following a plan”*

*opening line of “Look for the silver lining ” (1919), by Jerome Kern

Jacob Stolworthy wrote in The Independent of 4.11.2019:

“Will Rogers is being remembered on Google Doodle on what would have been his 140th birthday.

Born on 4 November, 1879, the American Indian actor-director, known as both “America’s Cowboy Philosopher” and “Oklahoma’s favourite son”, began his career in the 1920s, starring in films including The Ropin’ Fool (1922), A Truthful Liar (1924) and Tip Toes (1927).

It was through these films that Rogers became one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. After years of riding horses and touring the world as a circus performer called The Cherokee Kid, Rogers began presenting his own radio show and wrote several books that became bestsellers.

His vaudeville rope act even led to success on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies.

Rogers was also known for his phrases, including “I never met a man I didn’t like” and “A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him.”

The multitalented star, the son of a Cherokee senator, even had a tenure as politician after mounting a mock campaign for presidency in 1928.

He did so in an attempt to prove that all campaigning was worthless and on election day, he resigned.

Rogers’ legacy lives on through several buildings set up in his name, including the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma and the Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, California.

His childhood home, based near Oologah, Oklahoma, is also open to the public.

Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post after a plane crash in northern Alaska.

His son, Will Rogers Jr, played him in both 1949 film Look for the Silver Lining and The Story of Will Rogers in 1952.”

The Big Cheese

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“Cesar and Marie Ritz arrived together in London in early July 1899 to prepare for the opening (of the Carlton Hotel, on the corner of Haymarket and Pall Mall). They’d come across the Channel to Southampton and, on the way over, had seen Sir Thomas Liptons new yacht, the Shamrock, anchored in Hythe. It was a stunning boat, and would be competing in the America’s Cup race later that year.

Lipton had long fascinated Ritz; he followed the businessman’s career in the newspapers. (He had admired the flamboyant Barney Barnato in the same way, although in the case of Barnato, Ritz actually knew him personally.) Like Ritz, Lipton was a self-made man. He’d been born poor in Glasgow and had founded a chain of grocery and provision shops called Lipton’s Markets, and then made a fortune importing and selling tea.

They were the same age, Ritz (born 23 February 1850) and Lipton (born 10 May 1848) – contemporaries, Ritz would often say…”

From: The tea tycoon who was ‘the world’s best loser’ By Calum Watson (BBC Scotland News website) 23 September 2018:

“…In early December 1881, a steamer docked in Glasgow, carrying an extraordinary cargo from America. The world’s largest cheese.

The cheese, which was two feet thick and with a circumference of 14ft (4m), was watched by hundreds of onlookers as it was transported by traction engine to the Lipton’s store in the High Street – where it was found to be too large to fit through the door.

Undeterred, the parade continued to the Lipton’s Jamaica Street store (which fortunately boasted a wider doorway) where the cheese was manhandled into the shop window.

Nicknamed Jumbo, for a fortnight crowds marvelled at the spectacle, said to be the product of milk from 800 cows and the labour of 200 dairymaids.

As a publicity stunt it was already a success – but Tommy Lipton had another surprise up his sleeve.

In a ruse worthy of Willy Wonka, he turned the giant cheese into a golden wonder by hiding a large quantity of gold sovereigns inside it.

A few days before Christmas, dressed in a white suit, Lipton began cutting up the monster.

Policemen struggled to maintain order while his assistants wrapped the slices and handed them out to the legion of customers who had gathered in the hope of a lucky purchase.

It was a piece of theatre from a man who was riding a wave of remarkable success, whose grocery stores were spreading far and wide – and a world apart from his childhood in the poverty stricken Gorbals area of Glasgow.

Born in 1848, the son of immigrants from County Fermanagh, across the Irish Sea, Lipton’s first lessons in retail came when his father set up a small shop, selling basic provisions in the overcrowded district on the south bank of the Clyde…

…In May 1890, Lipton travelled to Sri Lanka to buy his first tea plantation.

Just like the Ulster farmers who supplied his first shops, they traded exclusively with Lipton stores – and straight away he put his competitors at a disadvantage.

“Everyone bought through the same location – Mincing Lane in London – where teas were blended but the quality was not reliable,” says biographer Michael D’Antonio.

“Sometimes it would be very good, other times it would be mouldy and sometimes you’d buy a packet of tea, and it would all be bad.

“He got the idea to standardise the blend and package it in a way that was consistently fresh and tasted the same when you bought it.”…

…when Lipton applied to join the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron he discovered even vast wealth and prestige were not always enough to overcome snobbery. They turned him down.

Instead, he joined the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, based in Bangor, County Down.

Lipton’s first challenge in 1899 won the hearts of many Irish Americans.

His yacht was named Shamrock – and while he lost the race, in other ways he was a winner.

Everyone was talking about Sir Thomas Lipton – and Lipton the brand was bigger than ever…

…Lipton was to make two more bids for the America’s Cup – coming tantalisingly close to success in 1920 but “that auld mug”, as he called the trophy, always eluded him.

But the good grace with which he accepted defeat earned him goodwill and admiration across America.

After his fifth and final attempt in 1930, the Hollywood actor Will Rogers began a campaign, asking the American public to donate a dollar to purchase a gold “loving cup” to celebrate the perseverance and sportsmanship of the world’s “most cheerful loser”.

Presented to him by the Mayor of New York, the lid was decorated with carved shamrocks. The inscription read: “In the name of hundreds of thousands of Americans and well-wishers of Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton.”…”

Closing stanzas of U A Fanthorpe’s “Growing Up”

I wasn’t good

At growing up. Never learned

The natives’ art of life. Conversation

Disintegrated as I touched it,

So I played mute, wormed along years,

Reciting the hard-learned arcane litany

Of cliché, my company passport.

Not a nice person,


The gift remains

Masonic, dark. But age affords

A vocation even for wallflowers.

Called to be connoisseur, I collect,

Admire the effortless bravura

Of other people’s lives, proper and comely,

Treading the measure, shopping, chaffing,

Quarrelling, drinking, not knowing

How right they are, or how like well-oiled bolts,

Swiftly and sweet, they slot into the grooves

Their ancestors smoothed out along the grain.

The Queen’s Hall, formerly at 10 Sheen Road, Richmond

Image: corner of 29 George St, Richmond, showing *WB monogram on pediment

Assorted facts drawn from Cinema Treasures; National Science and Media Museum;

In 1896, brothers Alfred and Harold Wright opened a draper’s shop at 29 George Street, Richmond. The shop grew to become a small department store which became incorporated as *Wright Brothers Ltd in 1929. In 1940 Wright Brothers was purchased by a department store in Kingston called Hide & Co. Ltd who ran it as a subsidiary company. Hide & Co. Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, was acquired by House of Fraser in 1975. A branch of Tesco Metro now occupies the building.

The Queen’s Hall, a couple of minutes’ walk away in its day via The Quadrant and The Square, was originally built in 1900 as a Freemasons Club.

(The Freemasons’ Richmond Lodge met at the Station Hotel, Richmond from March 1884 to May, 1888, when it was transferred to the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained except for short periods at the Star and Garter Hotel, Kew Bridge, the Castle Hotel, Richmond, and Hotel Cecil, London, until January, 1901, when it moved to the Freemasons Club in Sheen Road, Richmond. Meetings were regularly held there until October, 1909, when once again the Lodge made its home at the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained – except for one meeting at the Holborn Restaurant, London – until 1954, when it removed to its new home in The Parkshot Rooms. The Lodge continued to dine at the (enlarged) Station Hotel, the first home of the Lodge.)

The auditorium had a small stage with a proscenium and was used for many different types of entertainment. In 1911, the Hall was converted so that it could also be used for the new Wright Brothers Bioscope film showings.

Bioscope became a word increasingly interchangeable with moving pictures. Michael Chanan, in his book The Dream That Kicks, talks of ‘Bioscope teas’:

Bioscope teas were particularly popular at the New Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where in 1908 the lady from the suburbs could pause in her afternoon’s shopping, and for a shilling enjoy a “dainty cup of tea and an animated display”.’

It also became increasingly widely used in naming and advertising moving picture companies and their shows.

The hall had many names during its cinematic life and after, including The Pictorial Hall / the New Pavilion / Inman’s Club (in 1921 it was converted into a billiards hall). In 1938 it was put into use as a servicemen’s club and canteen for the war. In 1944, it was converted into the Richmond Community Centre. Occasional film use continued into the 1950’s when the Richmond Film Society held screenings in the hall. It was eventually demolished in 1986; a Waitrose supermarket now stands on the site.

“The far ends of the earth are not five minutes from Charing Cross, nowadays.”*

*D.H. Lawrence, in “Lady Chatterleys Lover” (1928)

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“(1898) One of the reporters spotted Ritz as he was leaving the hotel and asked him why he and Escoffier had been fired. I haven’t the faintest idea, Ritz declared, maintaining his dignity but not breaking his stride. He was going to see an old friend, E. Neuschwander, the manager of the Charing Cross Hotel. He needed a place to stay, somewhere to set up shop temporarily, to make plans, receive visitors.

They’d come full circle, it seemed, Ritz and Escoffier: the Charing Cross Hotel was the very place Escoffier had gone for help on the day they’d arrived in London and found the Savoy kitchen bereft of supplies. Escoffier’s old friend Louis Peyre had given him what he needed. Now it was Ritz’s friend Neuschwander, the manager at the same hotel, who offered to help, putting him up in the best room he had available.

It was from the Charing Cross Hotel that Ritz sent word to Marie about their new and unfortunate circumstances. She was out in the country, in Golders Green, with the two small children. They would be moving soon, he said: to Paris. There was no reason to stay in London for the season. Marie should begin closing up the house…

…In his suite at the Charing Cross Hotel, Ritz received an outpouring of support from his loyal friends and clients: notes, phone calls, visits. Marie was sent large bouquets of roses. The Duchess of Devonshire, Robert Crawshay, Alfred Beit, the Neumann brothers, Lillie Langtry, and Nellie Melba all made their allegiance known.

Lady de Grey came in person to pay her regards, and to bring word from Ritz’s most important client of all, the Prince of Wales…”

From Historic England entry:

“Charing Cross Hotel, former railway terminus hotel to the Charing Cross Railway (an off-shoot of the South Eastern Railway), built 1863-1864 to the designs of EM Barry, constructed by the Lucas brothers. The two upper floors were reconstructed in about 1953 to the designs of FJ Wills and Son following bomb damage in 1941. The hotel was extensively refurbished in the late-C20. A bridge over Villiers Street leads to an extension of 1877-1881, built to the designs of John Fish. The extension is excluded from the listing.

…Within the functioning space of the hotel, however, axial corridors on all floors are richly detailed; some with arched coffered ceilings supported on pilasters and heavy cornices, and others with a series of vaulted ceilings lit by Diocletian windows. The main, sweeping grand staircase is located in the wing, lit by arched windows at the half-landings. The panelled open well has decorative plaster work, and Corinthian columns at each landing; the stairs have stone treads with a wooden banister atop decorative pierced iron panels.

On the first floor of the wing is the ballroom (named as such in 2019), the former coffee room, a richly decorated room square in plan with broad recesses on each side and splayed angles across the corners, with a plainer, shallow later extension to the south side. This room has full height panelling, with heavy and deep entablatures, treated with a Corinthian order expressed in brown and light purple scagliola-covered columns and pilasters. Large winged female half figures in plaster adorn the consoles which buttress the arches to the recesses. Saint (1986) speculates that the figures could be by Raffaele Monti. Above the cornices, rich plasterwork arches and panels support the gently-dished ceiling with corner discs and small scale details and symbols including that of the Charing Cross and South Eastern railway companies…”

Charles Hamilton (1876-1961)

From Wikipedia:

Hamilton was born in Ealing, London to a family of eight children. His parents were Mary Ann Hannah (née Trinder – born 1847) and John Hamilton (1839-1884), a Master Carpenter. Charles Hamilton was privately educated at Thorn House School in Ealing, where he learned Classical Greek among other subjects. He embarked on a career as a writer of fiction, having his first story accepted almost immediately. According to William Oliver Guillemont Lofts it appeared in 1895.

Amalgamated Press started a new story paper for boys called The Gem in 1907 and by issue number 11 it had established a format – the major content was to be a story about St Jim’s school, starring Tom Merry as the main character and written by Charles Hamilton under the pen name of Martin Clifford. This paper rapidly established itself and anxious to capitalize on its success, a similar venture was launched in 1908. This was to be known as The Magnet, the subject matter was a school called Greyfriars and Hamilton was again to be the author, this time using the name Frank Richards.”

From The Book of Forgotten Authors (2017), by Christopher Fowler:

“Owen Conquest, Martin Clifford, Ralph Redway, Winston Cardew and Peter Todd were authors with something in common: they were all alter egos of the writer Charles Hamilton…Tales of schooldays and derring-do filled the pages of two Edwardian story papers, The Gem and The Magnet, and Hamilton excelled at them.

For the next thirty years, Hamilton churned out several thousand adventures about cowboys, firemen, coppers and crooks…”

From Wikipedia:

Following the closure of The Magnet in 1940, Hamilton had little work, but he became known as the author of the stories following a newspaper interview he gave to the London Evening Standard. He was not able to continue the Greyfriars saga as Amalgamated Press held the copyright and would not release it.

In the event he was obliged to create new schools such as Carcroft and Sparshott, as well as trying the romance genre under the name of Winston Cardew. By 1946, however, he had received permission to write Greyfriars stories again, and obtained a contract from publishers Charles Skilton for a hardback series, the first volume of which, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, was published in September 1947. The series was to continue for the rest of his life, the publisher later changing to Cassells.

His life interests were writing stories, studying Latin, Greek, and modern languages, chess, music, and gambling, especially at Monte Carlo. The Roman poet Horace was a particular favourite. He travelled widely in Europe in his youth, but never left England after 1926, living in a small house called Rose Lawn, at Kingsgate, a hamlet in St Peter parish, now part of Broadstairs, Kent, looked after by his housekeeper, Miss Edith Hood. She continued to reside in Rose Lawn following his death in 1961.

While Hamilton was reclusive in later years, he had a prolific letter correspondence with his readers. He generally wore a skull cap to conceal his hair loss and sometimes smoked a pipe.

He died on 24 December 1961, aged 86.”

Le Guide Culinaire (1903)

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“The disaster at the Savoy had caught (Escoffier) entirely off guard.

…the book was more than a record of his recipes: it was a way to lay claim to his reputation, to document the changes and advances he had brought to modern restaurant cooking, to establish his place in the pantheon of chefs…Marie-Antoine Careme, of course, was the godfather of grand French cooking…In the 1850s, Urbain Dubois and Emile Bernard had helped popularise service a la Russe…(they) had published their important cookbook, La Cuisine Classique, in 1856…

…Both Careme and Dubois had spent their careers working in private, often royal kitchens (Careme for Napoleon and Talleyrand, Dubois for Prince Orlov of Russia and the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty), whereas Escoffier had always worked in restaurants…”

…Escoffier, meanwhile, finished Le Guide Culinaire in November 1902 and published it in France in 1903. Translations soon followed: German, Italian, Swedish, Danish. The English edition was pared down to about three thousand recipes from the original five thousand, and published in England and America as A Guide to Modern Cookery.

The success of the book was everything he’d hoped for, cementing his reputation as the foremost chef of his time…”