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KENNETH GRAHAME

1859-1932
English

"Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing."

Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh. His father was a lawyer - and an alcoholic. After the death of Grahame’s mother his father was incapable of raising his son and he was sent to live with his grandmother in Berkshire. Her house was set in a large garden by the River Thames and provided the background of The Wind in the Willows. He was educated at St Edward’s School, Oxford but was subsequently forced to join the Bank of England rather than realising his ambition of going up to Oxford University.

During his career at the bank, Grahame wrote articles for various journals. His books of essays, The Golden Age (1895) and its sequel, Dream Days (1898) depict an unsentimental picture of childhood, with the adults totally out of touch with the children’s needs and concerns.

Grahame was appointed as secretary of the Bank and in 1899 married Elspeth Thomson. He began to tell stories to his son, Alistair, which were continued in a series of letters. These formed the basis of The Wind in the Willows (1908). Although it was published to scant critical acclaim, eventually, with the help of E.H. Shepard’s illustrations, it attained its present classic status. He retired from the Bank of England for health reasons, and, after the tragic death of Alistair at the age of nineteen, he became something of a recluse. He died in Pangbourne, Berkshire on July 6th 1932.

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