GRAHAME, Kenneth

Born: March 8, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland

Died: July 6, 1932, in Pangbourne, Berkshire, England

Kenneth Grahame was a children's author and essayist. His father was an advocate and sheriff for Argyll, and a descendant of an old Scottish family. When his mother died in 1864, the Grahame children went to live with their grandmother at "The Mount" on the banks of the Thames.

Grahame was educated at St. Edward's school in Oxford. He excelled at his studies and sports such as rugby and cricket. Although he wanted to attend university, his grandmother found him a job in a bank. He joined the bank of England in 1878, and was promoted to the position of secretary in 1898. He eventually retired in 1907 after being shot during a bank robbery.

While working at the bank, he wrote essays and poems and verse. Most of his work was rejected by publishers until W.E. Henley published many of his children's stories in The Pagan Papers. He then when on to write stories about children meant for adult readers: The Golden Age in 1895 and Dream Days in 1898. Along with writers such as Arnold Bennett and Henry James, he contributed to The Yellow Book, a short- lived journal intended to advance literature.

In 1899, he married Elspeth Thomson. When his son, Alastair, was born, he began to write what would become his most famous tales, Wind in the Willows. These stories were the basis of the Alastair's bedtime stories and Grahame never intended to publish them. He was encouraged to submit them for publication, however, and after the first rejection, they were accepted and published in 1908.

For the most part, Wind in the Willows was his last work. Alastair's death (suspected to be a suicide) at the age of nineteen marked the virtual end of Grahame's writing career.