Crompton's Just William books were profusely and beautifully illustrated by Thomas Henry Fisher, although they are usually signed Thomas Henry. Fisher was raised in Nottingham. He had a perfect grasp of the hero's character and foibles. The illustrations also contain a great deal of period information about boys' clothing. Fisher was selected by the publisher Newnes to illustrate the William books. He succedded in creating the perfect visual immage drawn by Crompton in her books. Amazingly, Fisher and Crompton did not meet until 1958 and it is not clear if they even corresonded before that. If so, the correspondence is now lost. Thomas Henry's illustrations with their distinctive facial expressions of mischief drawn with the minimum of lines has always been greatly admired. While Heney is best know for his William drawings, he also illustrated many children's books as well.
Fisher was born at Eastwood during 1879. The family shortly afterwards moved to Nottingham. Unfotunately, I have been able to find very little biographical information about him, especially concerniung his childhood
Fisher attended Nottingham College of Art. At age 15 while still a student, Fisher began to work for the Nottingham Guardian.
Fisher's career began when he sent a sketch of his brother t England's illustrious Punch atrical magazine. The editor Sir Frederick Burnand sent back an incouraging letter. Fisher's first paid work was an illustration for a turn of the century comic
called the Ally Sloper. He received 7s 6d and his soon his illustrations were a
regular feature of Punch and other important English magazines. Hi work received considerable critical acclaim. The Royal Academy hung one of his pictures and he also exhibited at many galleries including Nottingham Castle. [Smart]
Many older English football fans fondly remember the cartoons that used to enliven the
Football Post until the late 1960s. They were dran by Thomas Henry Fisher. He created the memorable Forester, Magpie, Stag, Chesterfield's Spireite, Lincoln's Imp and the Derby Ram. The Football Post was at the time perhaps the most popular sports publication in England and Fisher's cartoons were a wonderful addition and greatly enjoyed by readers. [Smart]
Richmal Crompton's Just William books were profusely and beautifully illustrated by Thomas Henry Fisher, although they are usually signed Thomas Henry. Although Fisher compiled a considerable body of work, his career is inextricably linked today with the archtypical English schoolboy--William Brown. Becaue of his growing reputation, the publisher Newnes selected Fisher to depict Crompton's lively young hero. Fisher's drawings were a perfect compliment to Crompton's text. He had a perfect grasp of the hero's character and foibles. William Brown as illustrated by Fisher became was everyone's idea of a mischievous English schoolboy with his grubby knees, perpetually falling kneesocks, unruly hair, and perpetually cheeky grin. Fisher succedded in creating the perfect visual immage drawn by Crompton in her books. His depictions of William's mates Ginger and Douglas Henry as well as him nemesis--Violet Elizabeth Bott--are also wonderfully done. One reviwer writes, "It was an image youngsters from a more innocent age could identify with and
helped to endear him to a generation of schoolchildren who avidly followed his adventures ". [Smart] Other illustrators have done William, but it is Fisher's drawings that come to mind when when most people nostalgically think of William Brown. The Just William books and Fisher's fame a an illustrator spread around the world. Fisher received a huge number of letters at his Melton Mowbray home about William. An Australian boy asked him if he used a model for William. Fisher replied, "No, he was imaginary. But they all seem real to me now." [Smart] Fisher's illustrations have helped make William not just a period charactr, but the very incarnation of the English schooboy.
Fisher also illustrated many children's books as well, although we have few details at this time.
Richard Crompton's William Brown is the one of the two most famous schoolboy in English literature. (The other of course is Jennings, a literary character familiar to the next generation of English school boys.) William is often referred to as "Just William" after the title of the first book introducing him to the British public who quickly fell in love with him. The 11-year old school boy soon came to represent the archetype British
schoolboy, inquiring, adventurous, and constantly wanting to launch another, usually illconceived, outdoor adventure. Thomas Henry's illustrations with their distinctive facial expressions of mischief drawn with the minimum of lines has always been greatly admired.
Richmal Crompton Lamburn was born in 1890 at Bury in Lancashire. She died in 1969. She is more commonly known as just Richmal Crompton. Crompton taught school and was a keen observer of the foibles of small children. She was able to cleverly and sympathetically intepret the antics of mischevious boys and the motives behind their seemingly irrational behavior. She published over 80 titles, but they were not all in the Just William series. She wrote many romantic novels which she considered more importanat than the Just William books--which she considered to be a bit of a daliance at the time. Her romantic novels of course are now long
fotgotten and it is William that has imortalized her memory. William surely would have regarded these novels as "dreadfully mushy". One would have thought that Crompton and Fisher would have had many meetings to discuss William and how to illustrate the books. Amazingly, the two did not meet until 1958 and there is no record of any correspondence between them before that meeting. It is not clear if they even corresonded before that. If so, the correspondence is now lost.
Fisher's William illustrations contain a great deal of period information about boys' clothing. Of particular note are the socks falling down around his ankles, the school cap at a jaunty angle, his is hoizontally stiped tie always loose. [Smart]
Andy Smart, Nottingham Evening Post, E-mail message, September 7, 2003.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Artist pages:
[Return to the Main individual illustrator page]
[Return to the Main English illustrator page]
[Chronology] [Countries] [Individuals] [Styles]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Literary]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]