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Billy Bunter at Butlins

FRANK RICHARDS

Summer again and Greyfriars School begins to think of holidays – and where to spend them. Into one ever-hopeful fat mind comes the same ever-recurring problem.

For given a sum of one lazy Owl with two months' holiday, plus one parent with a home called Bunter Villa, the answer is obvious enough even for the laziest brain in the school to work out to be equal to two months of discomfort. Mr. Bunter, senior, is just such an unnatural parent as to expect a son at home to help in making himself useful.

He is not the man to understand that a break from Greyfriars – weeks away from the eagle eye of Mr. Quelch – should be spent in complete rest with the solace of soft beds and ample supplies of food.

The renown of Butlin's Holiday Camp has penetrated even the thick ears of the fattest boy of the Remove. But holidays such as they provide, be they ever so inexpensive, cannot compete, in the eyes of Bunter's august parent, with a completely free eight weeks at Uncle Carter's boarding house, where having to do the washing-up would provide work for unwilling hands.

But luck, in the friendly shape of Mr. Billy Butlin himself, tumbles into Billy Bunter's life.

And luck is working overtime, for not only is the way to a free holiday provided, but also a wallet stuffed with enough money to provide tuck to satisfy a gargantuan appetite, is planted in a capacious, but hitherto empty pocket. For a pickpocket about to be caught in the act must get rid of incriminating evidence somehow and, just for once, Billy Bunter's fat person happens to be in the right place at the right time. And even with a criminal desperate to retrieve his ill-gotten gains behind him, the fat Owl is able to spend at least a few glorious food-filled holidays at Butlin's.

  • Classification : Humour
  • Pub Date : JUL 19, 2024
  • Imprint : Cassell – Hachette India
  • Page Extent : 244
  • Binding : HB
  • ISBN : 9789357318105
  • Price : INR 599
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FRANK RICHARDS

FRANK RICHARDS was the pen name of CHARLES HAMILTON.

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Charles Harold St. John Hamilton (8 August 1876 – 24 December 1961) was an English writer, specializing in writing long-running series of stories for weekly magazines about recurrent casts of characters, his most frequent and famous genre being boys public school stories, though he also wrote in other genres. He used a variety of pen-names, generally using a different name for each set of characters he wrote about, the most famous being Frank Richards for the Greyfriars School stories featuring Billy Bunter. Other important pen-names included Martin Clifford (for St. Jim's), Owen Conquest (for Rookwood), Ralph Redway (for The Rio Kid) and Hilda Richards (for Bessie Bunter). He also wrote hundreds of stories such as the Ken King stories for The Modern Boy.

Amalgamated Press started a new story paper for boys called The Gem in 1907 and by issue number 11 it had established a format: the major content was to be a story about St. Jim's school, starring Tom Merry as the main character and written by Charles Hamilton under the pen name of Martin Clifford. This paper rapidly established itself and, to capitalize on its success, a similar venture was launched in 1908. This was to be known as The Magnet. The subject matter was a school called Greyfriars and Hamilton was again to be the author, this time using the name Frank Richards.

In 1915, Hamilton started a third school series for Amalgamated Press, Rookwood, this time under the name Owen Conquest and featuring a leading character called Jimmy Silver. These appeared in the Boys' Friend Weekly, and were shorter than the Greyfriars and St. Jim's stories.

These three schools took up most of Hamilton's energies over the following 30 odd years and make up the work for which he is best remembered. His 'golden age' is generally considered as being the period from about 1925 to about 1935. In all he provided stories for 82 per cent of the issues of The Magnet and two thirds of the issues of The Gem.

Following the winding up of The Magnet, in 1940, Hamilton was not able to continue the Greyfriars saga, as Amalgamated Press held the copyright and initially would not release it. But by 1946 they changed their mind and granted Richards permission to write the Greyfriars stories again. He then signed a contract with publishers Charles Skilton for a hardback series, the first volume of which, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, was published in September 1947. The series continued for the rest of his life, but with Skilton transferring rights to Cassell in 1952. In addition, Hamilton, under the pen names above wrote further books featuring St. Jim's, Rookwood and Cliff House (the Bessie Bunter series), as well as the television scripts for seven series of Billy Bunter stories for the BBC.

Frank Richards died on 24 December 1961, aged 85, and was cremated at the Kent County Crematorium at Charing. He is estimated to have written about 100 million words in his lifetime (that's the equivalent of 1,200 average-length novels) and has featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most prolific author.

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