Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. His mother died
1864, after which Grahame and his three siblings were raised by their uncle, living
first in Berkshire and then Cranbourne, England. Childhood illness left Grahame
respiratory problems that followed him throughout his life. After attending St.
Edward’s School in Oxford, Grahame aspired to attend Oxford University, but he
denied funding by his uncle. Instead, he moved to London and began work at the
Grahame quickly advanced at the Bank, while concurrently composing his first work.
"By a Northern Furrow" appeared in the St. James Gazette in 1888, and his first book, Pagan Papers, was published in 1893. The Golden Age (1895), which met popular and critical
success, was a collection of tales of average childhood, and was followed by the
similarly-themed Dream Days (1899).
In July 1899, Grahame married Elspeth Thomson. The following May, they had a son,
Alastair "Mouse" Grahame. Born prematurely,
Alastair was blind in one eye and had poor vision in the other. In 1908, Grahame
resigned from the Bank and moved his family to Mayfield, Cookham Dene, Berkshire,
where he began to develop another series of stories written for and possibly
contributed to by Alastair. These formed the basis for The
Wind in the Willows, published in 1908, which was met with wide success
in Great Britain and the United States.
The Grahame family moved to Boham’s, Blewbury, Berkshire, in May 1910. Grahame wrote
little else following The Wind in the Willows, but he
edited The Cambridge Book of Poetry for Children
(1916). In the meantime, Alastair struggled in school, and in May 1920 he was
in a train accident. After the death of their son, Kenneth and Elspeth traveled
throughout Italy. Upon their return in 1924 they sold Boham’s and moved to Church
Cottage, Pangbourne, Berkshire, where the couple became reclusive. Grahame’s health,
poor throughout his life, continued to decline until his death on July 6, 1932.
will established the Kenneth Grahame Fund, to which all of Grahame’s royalties
given; the Fund is the primary purchasing fund for the Bodleian Library at Oxford