Illustrated by Thomas Henry and Henry Ford
George Newnes Limited, 1964. First edition.
Hardback; 130 x 190 mm; dark green boards with titles in gold on spine and front cover; 191 pages. Original unclipped dust jacket.
The book itself is in fair condition allowing for the quality of the paper used and the children’s market at which the book was aimed. The condition of the dust jacket is poor. It has tears and bumping, a pen mark around the title, and the back and the insides of the jacket are grubby with discoloration and staining, particularly along the spine. There is discoloration, particularly of the top edges, and foxing of the leaves visible when the book is closed. The binding is sound but the book is cocked. The poor quality of the paper used means that the endpapers look grubby. The frontispiece illustration is dog-eared. There are tiny dog-ears and chipping affecting other pages, and there are some smudge marks here and there. There is a dent on page 54.
Richmal Crompton (1890 – 1969) is best known for her Just William series of books, about a mischievous 11-year-old schoolboy and his band of friends, known as "The Outlaws". In this book William wants to explore uncharted territory and Briar Lane is just the place to start. The lane leads him to a ramshackle cottage in the woods where an old lady lives alone. Who is she? William is sure he knows as he leads the outlaws into supernatural adventure.
The book will immediately appeal to anyone in love with the Just William stories. The illustrations, in black and white, are equally attractive and, like the story, very much of their period.