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Notable Classics alumnae
Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett DBE (1884-1969)
Classical Studies, 1906 Royal Holloway College
Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett developed a distinct form of novel set almost entirely in dialogue. Her work typically dissects personal relationships in the middle-class Edwardian household.
Ivy achieved her full stature with Brothers and Sisters (1929), about a wilful woman who inadvertently marries her half brother. The centre of Men and Wives (1931) has another determined woman, one whose tyranny drives her son to murder her. Murder again appears in More Women Than Men (1933), this time by a woman bent on keeping her nephew under her domination. In A House and Its Head (1935) the tyrant is a father.
Her first novel, Dolores, is set in a women's college and was influenced heavily by her time at Royal Holloway.
Richmal Crompton (1890-1969)
BA Classics, 1914 Royal Holloway College
The novelist Richmal Crompton is famous for the Just William books about the mischievous 11-year-old schoolboy and his band of friends.
Over 50 years Richmal published 39 collections of stories, which sold over 12 million copies in the United Kingdom and were translated into nine languages. They have been adapted for films, stage-plays, and BBC radio and television series. In 2010 fellow alumnus Simon Nye adapted the stories for a new television version.
Richmal saw her real work as writing adult fiction and she wrote 41 novels for adults and published nine collections of short stories. Their focus was generally Edwardian middle-class family and social life, dwelling on the constraints that they place on individuals while also nurturing them. This is best seen in her depiction of children as puzzled onlookers of society's ways. Nevertheless, the children, particularly William and his friends, almost always emerge triumphant.