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Kenneth Grahame: Banker and Author of ‘Wind in the Willows’

Introduction to Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame, was a British author best known for his book, The Wind in the Willows, one of the classics of children’s literature. Its animal characters—principally Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad—combine human traits with authentic animal habits. It is a story that has been enjoyed by both adults and children alike.

Early life of Grahame

Kenneth Grahame was born on 8 March 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he was a little more than a year old, his father, who was an advocate, received an appointment as sheriff-substitute at Loch Fyne. Although Kenneth loved the sea and was happy there, he had to be sent to live along with his grandmother in Cookham village in Berkshire because of his mother’s death and his father’s drinking problem.
This way, Kenneth, his brother Willie, his sister Helen and the new baby Roland were orphaned at a young age and lived in a spacious, if dilapidated, home, The Mount. Grahame attended St. Edward’s School at Oxford. Unfortunately, he had no money that would enable him to complete his studies at the university. Because of this, his family guided him into a career at the Bank of England, where he stayed until his ill health compelled him to retire in 1908.

Grahame’s Writing Career

While still a young man in his 20s, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St. James Gazette. There is a ten-year gap between Grahame’s first book and the publication of the classic, The Wind in the Willows.  He also published collections of sketches, stories, and essays—Pagan Papers (1893), The Golden Age (1895), and Dream Days (1898), all of which reveal his sensitive understanding of childhood.The Wind in the Willows was dramatized by A.A Milne as Toad of Toad Hall (1929) and became a frequently performed Christmas play.