Narcissa (1941), by Richmal Crompton

I have only just discovered this female writer from Britain who died in 1963. Well known for her outraeous sales for her Willam stories, written for children, Crompton also penned some 40 books, now long forgotten, for adults—among these, some creepy high-quality fiction. The Mist and Other Ghost Stories is so rare to be sad. But perhaps reprints will be made later on if we all spread the word!

SW

Reading 1900-1950

This month we read adult novels by authors better known as writers for children.

Richmal Crompton, by Bassano, vintage print, circa 1930 (National Portrait Gallery) Richmal Crompton, by Bassano, vintage print, circa 1930 (National Portrait Gallery)

In Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful but excessively proud youth.  He was so enraptured by his reflection in water that he stared at it until he died and was transformed by the gods into the flower which bears his name. Narcissi are often found on river banks, bending over the water and seeming to stare at themselves.  If we know the story, we are at once on our guard with Richmal Crompton’s study of a narcissist called Stella.

As the novel opens, Stella is a child in an upper middle-class home, an orphan cared for by her devoted Aunt Fanny.  Fanny was overlooked as a child, and is determined that pretty, charming and loving Stella will never face this. Loving?  Well, no.  Or at…

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