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1001 Stories Collection

The Wind in the Willows

Added on 15th June 2020

Author Kenneth Grahame
First published 1908
Publisher Methuen

Animals

The much loved story of Rat, Toad, Mole and Badger. A classic children's novel.

Story

The Wind in the Willows is a gentle story of four woodland creatures – Ratty, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad – and their adventures in the English countryside. As Toad’s eccentric escapades become more extreme and land him in prison, the four friends have to hatch a plan to free Toad and recapture Toad Hall from mischievous weasels and stoats.

Why we chose it

The Wind in the Willows charms readers of all ages with its kindly and humourous insights into friendship, courage and loyalty. Author Neil Gaiman chose to be photographed as Badger for the Story Museum’s 2014 exhibition, 26 Characters, because Badger is brave and smart and grumpy and ‘has great hair’!

Kenneth Grahame’s letters to his son, Alastair, on which the story is based, are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and Grahame is buried in Oxford’s Holywell Cemetery.

Where it came from

These much-loved adventures began as bedtime stories and letters for Kenneth Grahame’s son, Alistair, inspired by Grahame’s childhood at Cookham Dene by the River Thames. Grahame had excelled at school but could not afford to go to university so worked as a clerk at the Bank of England and wrote in his spare time.

Initially rejected by publishers, the story was adapted by A. A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, into a successful stage play, Toad of Toad Hall. Word spread and the book became a treasured classic. It has been illustrated more than 90 times, most famously in 1931 by Ernest Shepard, illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Where it went next

The Wind in the Willows has been adapted many times for radio, television and film, most notably as an audio recording by Alan Bennett and a feature film starring Steve Coogan, Eric Idle and Terry Jones.

Associated stories

Oxford author William Horwood has written The Willows in Winter and other sequels.

Added on 15th June 2020

Author Kenneth Grahame
First published 1908
Publisher Methuen

Animals