Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was born in Edinburgh, but he spent most of his childhood with relatives in Berkshire as his mother had died and his father, unable to cope with the children, had gone to live in France. This time in Berkshire gave Kenneth an abiding love of the countryside, especially the upper part of the River Thames.
Grahame's first book was about paganism, a belief quite fashionable with certain writers at the end of the nineteenth century. However, success in writing came in the 1890s with books about children. He wrote for children because he saw them as 'the only really living people'. As well as writing, he worked for the Bank of England and was one of their youngest secretaries. He retired early—in 1907—and shortly afterward, in 1908, The Wind in the Willows, was published. This book offers an image of an idealized society and is full of characters are recognizable as some of the types of people we commonly meet in our lives.
Grahame's son, Alastair, nick-named Mouse, was the original audience for the stories that later became The Wind in the Willows. After Alastair's untimely death when still a student at Oxford, Kenneth Grahame became a bit of a recluse and lived quietly by the Thames until he died in 1932.
The Wind in the Willows has never been out of print and is perhaps one of the best-loved children's titles in English literature. Grahame's wonderful imagination and quiet humor continue to touch children today.