The Real Kenneth Grahame (Hardback)
The Tragedy Behind The Wind in the Willows
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He wrote one of the most quintessentially English books, yet Kenneth Grahame (1859 – 1932) was a Scot. He was four years old when his mother died and his father became an alcoholic, so Kenneth grew up with his grandmother who lived on the banks of the beloved River Thames. Forced to abandon his dreams of studying at Oxford, he was accepted as a clerk at the Bank of England where he became one of the youngest men to be made company secretary. He narrowly escaped death in 1903 when he was mistaken for the Bank’s governor and shot at several times. He wrote secretly in his spare time for magazines and became a contemporary of contributors including Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw and WB Yeats. Kenneth’s first book, Pagan Papers (1893) initiated his success, followed by The Golden Age (1895) and Dream Days (1898), which turned him into a celebrated author. Ironically, his most famous novel today was the least successful during his lifetime: The Wind in the Willows (1908) originated as letters to his disabled son, who was later found dead on a train line after a suspected suicide. Kenneth never recovered from the tragedy and died with a broken heart in earshot of the River Thames. His widow, Elspeth, dedicated the rest of her life to preserving her husband’s name and promoting his work.
As featured on Visit Cornwall - read the blog post here.Visit Cornwall
Elizabeth Galvin has woven together the emotional lives of families, friends, and colleagues with the work of writing, publishing, maintaining a home and place in society in the period with the Grahame family at its centre. In this way, the history of the time is built up alongside the personal misalliances, hopes, fears, successes, and tragedies of Kenneth Grahame. The love of home and security which permeates The Wind in the Willows is shown to have its roots in Grahame’s personal life, but also resonates with a period of change. Kenneth Grahame’s writing, when read through the complexities of his life laid bare by Galvin’s study, becomes even more interesting. Reading The Real Kenneth Grahame, The Tragedy Behind The Wind in the Willows illuminates but does not dominate the way in which Grahame’s fiction can be read. At the same time as Galvin provides an excellent background to understanding Grahame and his writing, the stories retain their charm.NetGalley, Robin Joyce
There is a comprehensive bibliography; note for each chapter; an excellent index; photos with explanatory captions; handwritten letters and poetry; and some of the illustrations from The Wind in the Willows.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Chris Hallam
Elizabeth Galvin's account of the life of the man who created Ratty, Moley, Badger and Toad of Toad Hall brings Grahame's world vividly to life.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Michelle Kidwell
I give The Real Kenneth Grahame: The Tragedy Behind the Wind and the Willows five out of five stars!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Michelle Coates
I found this book fascinating and couldn’t put it down. Heartbreaking at times and also inspirational.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Robin Price
Literary success often seems to spell tragedy either for the author, the author's family, or sadly both. Writing can be a surprisingly dangerous business, but if you are good enough you can hope for immortality. Kenneth Grahame was good enough.
Elisabeth Galvin's new book is a compelling mix of the biographical, with a close look at Grahame"s literary style and output. She examines his often difficult relationship with his wife, and his only son, Mouse, with an objective honesty, and her passion for his writing permeates every page.
A splendid book that can enhance one's enjoyment of that great classic The Wind In The Willows, and also introduce one to the earlier books which should not be overlooked.