The William Brown series, better known as the Just William series, is a series of thirty nine books written by English author Richmal Crompton. The books are based around the mischievous schoolboy William Brown .
Published over a period of almost fifty years, between 1921 and 1970, the series is notable for the fact that the protagonist remains at the same eleven years of age, despite each book being set in the era it was written in. The first book was Just William, and often the entire series is named after this book. Each book, with the exception of Just William's Luck, which was a novel, was a collection of short stories.
The series has spawned various television, film, theatre and radio adaptations. It also has a large fan following, with such groups as the Just William Society.
* William Brown – The main character in the series, an eleven year old middle class schoolboy. He is the leader of The Outlaws and the sworn enemy of Hubert Lane. He is confident and strong-willed. He doesn't care about his personal hygiene or appearance, to his family's dismay. He loves to play Indians, Pirates or Spies with his friends, as well as reading action stories. He is fond of sweets and soft drinks. His imagination and love of adventure are constantly at play, getting him into trouble.
* Ginger Flowerdew/Merridew – William's best friend and member of The Outlaws. "Ginger" is a nickname derived from the colour of his hair: We never learn his real first name, though his surname is either Flowerdew or Merridew (one of the author's many inconsistencies). He has an elder brother called Hector, who is Robert's friend. The Just William stories often involve only William and Ginger, leaving out the other Outlaws.
* Henry – One of William's friends and a member of The Outlaws. He is considered well-read and well-informed. He has an elder brother, John, and also an unnamed baby sister, with whom he is perpetually warring.
* Douglas – One of William's friends and a member of The Outlaws. He is the most prudent and discreet of the group. He has an elder brother, George, Robert's friend.
* Jumble – William's scruffy mongrel, a mixture of many breeds.
* Margaret or Mary Brown – William's long suffering mother. Despite innumerable disappointments, she never loses faith in William. Mrs Brown's first name is Margaret in William Again, 2, but Mary in Just William's Luck, 17, William – the Explorer, 5, and William's Treasure Trove, 5.
* John Brown – William's sardonic father, often vexed by William's troublesome behaviour, but at times giving subtle hints that he agrees with his son by rewarding him with money. Some of the stories also suggest that Mr Brown was very much like William in his youth.
* Ethel Brown – William's elder sister, a pretty redhead who is incredibly popular among the local adolescent males in the village. Ethel is variously aged in the stories between 17 and 21. William himself can never understand why people are attracted to her because she is usually quite mean to him. Ethel does, however, have quite a soft spot for William; she is genuinely distressed when she believes him to be sick, though William is often faking it.
* Robert Brown – William's grown-up brother who is infatuated by a succession of girls, each of whom he swears is "the most beautiful girl in the world" until he moves on to the next. Robert's age (like Ethel's) varies between stories: He is sometimes as young as 17 and sometimes as old as 22 (though in the novel Just William's Luck he confirms his age as 21). He is a hopeless romantic whose world view is coloured by the heroic novels he reads. He is also something of a "social climber", eager to impress his friends and family with his worldly knowledge and important acquaintances. Several of the stories involve Robert attempting to impress a girl, but irritated and embarrassed by William in the process.
* Violet Elizabeth Bott – The lisping spoiled daughter of the local nouveau riche millionaire, Mr. Bott, who forces the reluctant Outlaws to allow her to join them on their adventures, by her effective threat: "I'll thcream and thcream and thcream 'till I'm thick".
* Mr. & Mrs. Bott – Introduced early in the series as new inhabitants to the village, Mr. and Mrs. Bott are a nouveau riche millionaire couple who spoil their daughter Violet Elizabeth. Mr. Bott made his millions by patenting and selling "Bott's Digestive Sauce" (allegedly made from squashed beetles). While Mr. Bott is fairly easy-going, his wife is a social climber, eager to impress high-society people with her wealth. Despite being figures of fun, the Botts are often represented sympathetically. Perhaps because of their lower-class origins, they take William and his friends more seriously than do most adults.
* Joan Clive/Crewe/Parfitt – The girl next door. Younger than William, she is his uncritical admirer, whom he will go to some efforts to impress. She is sometimes described a member of The Outlaws, and sometimes an "Outlaw-ally". Joan has three surnames throughout the series; it is Clive first, then Crewe, then Parfit, before reverting back to Clive. She also changes in physical appearance, Joan Clive had blue eyes and bright golden curls whereas Joans Crewe and Parfitt had dark eyes, dark curly hair and a dimpled complexion. Crewe turns to Parfitt after Joan's absence then subsequent return to the village after her London home is bombed, so it is possible her mother has been widowed (or, rather unlikely, divorced) and remarried. However, in William Meets the Professor (William and the Tramp) she has inexplicably reverted to Clive.
* Hubert Lane – William's chief rival in the village for popularity among boys. He is opposite in character to William, being greedy, underhand, vindictive and spoiled. He is obese and loves to eat. His gang (the "Hubert Lanites") remains loyal to him mostly on account of his excessive pocket money, which he uses to buy cream cakes and other luxuries for his supporters. He almost always comes off worse in confrontations with William.
* Bertie Franks – A leading member of the Hubert Lanites, usually Hubert's lieutenant, though in William the Gangster he sets up as a gang leader in his own right. Like Hubert, he is fat and spoiled.
* Oswald Franks – Bertie Franks's elder brother, friend of Robert's. He is pretty much like Bertie.
* Mrs. Lane – Hubert's mother, who began with having great faith in a William-Hubert friendship, but spoils and supports Hubert to a ridiculous extent.
* Mr. Marks/Markson – The headmaster of William's school, known to William and his friends as "Ole Markie". He is early middle-aged, and has a sensitive personality which he does his best not to show when he is at work. He gets on well with his older pupils, but dislikes younger and more disruptive ones like William.
* Mr. French – The most frequently mentioned of William's teachers, he is usually an antagonist.
* Victor Jameson – The leader of another gang of boys. Victor's gang generally supports William's, though they occasionally argue with them. Victor is often involved in fights against the Lanites and in audiences of Outlaw productions. Has an elder brother, Jameson Jameson, who plays a similar role as Robert.
* Jimmy Moore A solid, dependable youth of Ethel's peer group. Her fall back beau when more glamorous suitors let her down.
* Arabella Simpkin – A strong-willed, witty girl who acts as an antagonist for the Outlaws, generally disrupting their activities by disputing their leadership.
* Archie Mannister – An absent-minded young artist, besotted with Ethel and on more-or-less friendly terms with William. He appears more in the later books.