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Kenneth Grahame:

Photography Collection Literary File

Creator: Grahame, Kenneth, 1859-1932
Title: Kenneth Grahame Literary File
Dates: circa 1900-1930s
Extent: 1 box (150 photographs)
Abstract: The Kenneth Grahame Literary File consists of 150 photographs (147 photographic prints and 3 nitrate negatives), including portraits of Grahame, his son Alastair, various other people, and various places in England and Scotland.
Call Number: PH-00281
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Please note: Negatives cannot be accessed without curatorial approval. To make an appointment or to reserve photography materials, please contact the Center's staff at

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift, 1989 (G 8093)
Processed by: Kait Dorsky, 2015

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. His mother died in 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 with respiratory problems that followed him throughout his life. After attending St. Edward’s School in Oxford, Grahame aspired to attend Oxford University, but he was denied funding by his uncle. Instead, he moved to London and began work at the Bank of England.
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 killed 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. His will established the Kenneth Grahame Fund, to which all of Grahame’s royalties were given; the Fund is the primary purchasing fund for the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.


Hunt, Peter. "Grahame, Kenneth (1859–1932)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed April 29, 2015,

Scope and Contents

The Kenneth Grahame Literary File consists of 150 photographs (147 photographic prints and 3 nitrate negatives), including portraits and snapshots of Grahame, his son Alastair, his wife Elspeth, and various other people. There are also views of various places in England and Scotland, including Blewbury, Pangbourne, Inveraray, and Loch Fyne. An index at the end of this guide lists photographers whose work is featured in this file.

Related Material

The Ransom Center also holds manuscript materials by Kenneth Grahame.

Index Terms


Grahame, Alastair, 1900-1920.
Grahame, Elspeth.
Grahame, Kenneth, 1859-1932.


Authors, English -- 19th Century -- Pictorial works.
Authors, English -- 20th Century -- Pictorial works.
Group portraits.
Landscape photography.
Photography of families.
Photography of gardens.
Portrait photographs.


Blewbury (England).

Document Types

Offset Lithograph.

Item List