Kenneth Grahame

Born in Edinburgh on 8 March 1859, Grahame was the son of an advocate who could trace his ancestry back to Robert I. He was unfortunately orphaned at an early age, an event which, a psychologist might say, focused his mind on childhood. Whatever was in his mind he still had to earn a crust, and moved down to England to live with his grandmother, attending St Edward's School in Oxford.

Though bright enough, there was insufficient money in the stocking for him to attend university, so he went to Westminster to work for an uncle, before starting as a clerk in the Bank of England in 1879. His career here was obviously good, as he ended up becoming Secretary to the Bank in 1898. By this time he was writing, and published a collection of stories, Pagan Papers, in 1893. A very popular second collection, The Golden Age, followed in 1895.

Grahame married in 1899, and began writing tales for his son Alisdair. In 1908 these were published as The Wind in the Willows, a childrens' classic and his best-known work. Its animal caricatures- Mole, Rat, Badger and of course the inimitable Toad, have been the staple diet of generations of children (and adults who have remained children it goes without saying). It was turned into a successful play, Toad of Toad Hall, by A.A. Milne in 1930.

Grahame had to retire through ill-health at about the same time as The Wind in the Willows was published, though he had remained as Bank Secretary since 1898. He died on 6 July 1932, at Pangbourne, Berkshire.