18 July 2013

Richmal Crompton in Bury

The corner of Hampson Mill Lane and Manchester Road, near Hollins Vale, Bury.

'IN THIS HOUSE
RICHMAL CROMPTON
AUTHORESS OF
THE "JUST WILLIAM" BOOKS
WAS BORN
15th NOV 1890'
 
'Authoress'? I don't know when the sign was erected, but the expression must surely have been embarrassingly condescending even at the time.
 
I believe this plaque began life blue, but the sun has apparently blanched it. Richmal Crompton published about forty children's novels about William Brown, but although she published a similar number of adult books, it was the William books that sold more. She died in Chiselhurst in 1969.

4 comments:

ian williams said...

The occupation of "authoress" ( as well as actress") was the accepted grammatical female form of actor, well into the twentieth century if not even the second half.

When I was at school (1948-1956) almost every male occupation had a feminine noun to describe a woman performing that job eg. bus conductress etc. So your comment of "embarrassing condescension" is as far fro the mark as it could be. In my mind still, ladies who act are actresses and ladies who write books are authoresses

Dr Tony Shaw said...

But I'm talking about today, not yesterday. Today the '-ess' suffix is just embarrassing because it suggests inferiority, and of course the years 1946-56 were a long time away even from equal pay. Equal language leads to equal treatment. Also, I would certainly never use the word 'lady', which I find equally embarrassing because of its classist connotations.

Felix Deer said...

How dull your life must be..

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Infinitely more interesting than that of those who make mindless comments.