TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame was born on July 20th, 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland but in early childhood, after his mother died and his father began to drink heavily, he moved with his younger sister to live with his grandmother on the banks of the River Thames in the Berkshire village of Cookham in southern England. He was an outstanding pupil at St Edward's School in Oxford and wanted to attend Oxford University but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of England in 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health. In addition to ill health, Grahame's retirement was precipitated in 1903 by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed.

Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899, but the marriage was not a happy one. They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was "Mouse") born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life. Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May, 1920. Out of respect for Kenneth Grahame, Alastair's demise was recorded as an accidental death.

While still a young man, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St. James Gazette. Some of these stories were collected and published as Pagan Papers in 1893, and, two years later, The Golden Age. These were followed by Dream Days in 1898, which contains The Reluctant Dragon.

There is a ten-year gap between Grahame's penultimate book and the publication of his triumph, The Wind in the Willows. During this decade Grahame became a father. The wayward headstrong nature he saw in his little son he transformed into the swaggering Mr. Toad, one of its four principal characters. Despite its success, he never attempted a sequel. Others, years after his death, have done that for him. The book was a hit and is still enjoyed by adults and children today, whether in book form or in the films.

Toad remains one of the most celebrated and beloved characters of the book. His boisterous attitude ensure a fun read for children and adults alike.

Kenneth Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire in 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, near the grave of the American expatriate author James Blish. Grahame's cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time.”

Website:

css.php