Kenneth Grahame is the author of The Wind in the Willows, one of the most beloved books of the twentieth century. Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by relatives in Berkshire and was educated at St. Edward’s School, Oxford, and Summertown. He became a clerk in the Bank of England in 1879, and after nineteen years’ service he was appointed secretary of the bank, in which capacity he retired, in 1908, after two serious illnesses. (The second of these was caused by a wound he suffered when a lunatic fired a revolver in the bank.) Withdrawing to his boyhood home at Blewbury, Grahame and his wife spent almost a quarter of a century in the tranquil Berkshire countryside; their life was marred in 1920 by the death of their only child, Alastair, an undergraduate at Oxford, who was killed by a train. After his retirement Grahame wrote only sporadically. His later writings include introductions to a few books, among them his anthologies, The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children and The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Young People. For the most part he devoted his leisure to reading and to observations of nature.
Grahame’s literary career began in the 1880’s with occasional poetry and with prose essays, the latter encouraged by W. E. Henley, who published some of them in the National Observer. When Grahame published a collection of these in 1893 under the title Pagan Papers, the book met with immediate...
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