"Well, very long ago, on the spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before ever it had planted itself and grown up to what it now is, there was a city - a city of people, you know." -- Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame (8 March 1859 — 6 July 1932) was a Scottish writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films.
"A careful inspection showed them that, even if they succeeded in righting it by themselves, the cart would travel no longer. The axles were in a hopeless state, and the missing wheel was shattered into pieces.""After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.""Animals arrived, liked the look of the place, took up their quarters, settled down, spread, and flourished. They didn't bother themselves about the past - they never do; they're too busy.""Animals when in company walk in a proper and sensible manner, in single file, instead of sprawling all across the road and being of no use or support to each other in case of sudden trouble or danger.""Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.""Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit; and that limit you've reached.""It's never the wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late he's always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!""Monkeys who very sensibly refrain from speech, lest they should be set to earn their livings.""Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation whatever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, the two animals passed through the broken tumultuous water and moored their boat at the flowery margin of the island.""Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.""The clever men at Oxford, know all that there is to be knowed. But they none of them know one half as much, as intelligent Mr. Toad.""The Mole had long wanted to make the I acquaintance of the Badger. He seemed, by all accounts, to be such an important personage and, though rarely visible, to make his unseen influence felt by everybody about the place.""The whole wood seemed running now, running hard, hunting, chasing, closing in round something or - somebody? In panic, he began to run too, aimlessly, he knew not whither.""The Wild Wood is pretty well populated by now; with all the usual lot, good, bad, and indifferent - I name no names. It takes all sorts to make a world.""There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.""There is nothing absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.""Toad talked big about all he was going to do in the days to come, while stars grew fuller and larger all around them, and a yellow moon, appearing suddenly and silently from nowhere in particular, came to keep them company and listen to their talk.""When it began to grow dark, the Rat, with an air of excitement and mystery, summoned them back into the parlour, stood each of them up alongside of his little heap, and proceeded to dress them up for the coming expedition."
Grahame was born on 8 March 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.An alternative explanation, given in a letter on display in the Bank museum, is that he had quarrelled with Walter Cunliffe, one of the bank's directors, who would later become Governor of the Bank of England, in the course of which he was heard to say that Cunliffe was "no gentleman", and that his retirement was enforced ostensibly on health grounds.
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.
Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire in 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. 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".
While still a young man, Grahame in his 20 years 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 Alastair (also known as "Mouse") he transformed into the swaggering Mr. Toad, one of its four principal characters. Despite its success, he never attempted a sequel. The book was a hit and is still enjoyed by adults and children today, whether in book form or in the films, while Toad remains one of the most celebrated and beloved characters of the book. In the 1990s William Horwood came up with a series of sequels.