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Discworld Characters: William de Worde

This who's who originally appeared in issue 95 - March 2005


William de Worde became well known in The Truth and has since made an appearance in Monstrous Regiment. He is also mentioned in the original Discworld Companion which came out some six years before The Truth.

William tries very hard to be better than the way he was brought up, and fights against some of the prejudices instilled in him by his family and upbringing.

William was the second son of Lord de Worde and as such was considered a second rate citizen by his family. Whereas his elder brother Rupert was sent to the assassins guild for an education, William was sent to Hugglestones School where enthusiasm was treasured more than achievement. Rupert was killed in a short skirmish with Klatch and thus continued the de Worde tradition of fighting (and often dying) for their beliefs. William shunned his upbringing and wealth and imposed a sort of poverty upon himself.

William made his living by noting down newsworthy events in Ankh Morpork and sending his 'newsletter' to notable dignitaries outside of the city for a few dollars a month. This enabled him to live reasonably comfortably and have plenty of spare time each month, rather like the staff of DWM.

William's creation of the Discworld's first newspaper The Ankh Morpork Times came about almost by accident when William was struck (literally) by the Dwarfs' new movable type printing press. Lord Vetinari, fearing this to be the start of another almost world ending event (which happen from time to time in Ankh Morpork), puts William in charge of the Dwarfs and their press and explains that if any tentacle monsters attack the city William will be in trouble. It appears that the press is set firmly in the cult (not the occult) and hasn't yet caused any breaks in the fabric of reality.

The Times has become a useful tool for Terry in the later novels, often as an excuse to grill a character in front of the Patrician - William and later Moist von Lipwig have both endured this fate.

William tries very hard to be better than the way he was brought up, and fights against some of the prejudices instilled in him by his family and upbringing. He still, however, has sharp edges to his character. This is highlighted in Monstrous Regiment when you see William from other characters' point of view, but I guess that this argument can be used against many characters - Vimes is the obvious comparison here.

William is a character that you really want to like, but need to keep an eye on.