Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Darlington, W A

(1890-1979) UK theatre critic and writer of F Anstey-style fantasies. A series of morale-building sketches written during WWI for the Passing Show was recast as the bestselling Alf's Button (1919), the first of the Alf sequence, in which a working-class soldier fails to make sensible use of a button on his uniform which has been derived from Aladdin's lamp and which conjures up a djinn (> Genies), whom he calls Eustace. The book was the basis of a successful stage play, Alf's Button, An Extravaganza in Three Acts (1925), and then the movie Alf (1920), followed by Alf's Button (1930) and Alf's Button Afloat (1938). Alf's Carpet (1928), a sequel to the first movie, had a markedly different ending occasioned by the intervention of Alf's better half Liz. This too became a play, Carpet Slippers: A Play in Three Acts (1937 chap). WWII provided an opportunity for a further sequel, Alf's New Button (1940), in which Eustace grants Alf six wishes which he and Liz duly waste.

The two comic fantasies which Darlington wrote between Alf's Button and its first sequel are somewhat better, by virtue of being set in the middle-class milieu which Anstey had employed so successfully. In Wishes Limited (1922) a would-be novelist finds a Fairy's attempts to grant his wishes unfortunately restricted by new Trade Union rules. Egbert (1924) is the story of a barrister turned into a rhinoceros by an offended Wizard. [BS]

William Aubrey Cecil Darlington


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.