Kenneth Grahame bequeathed all the royalties in his works to ‘the University of Oxford for the benefit of the Bodleian Library’, an act of generosity that has enabled the Library to purchase many important books and manuscripts over the years
He longed to attend the University of Oxford but, to his lifelong regret, his desires were frustrated by his uncle, who refused to pay for him. Grahame pursued instead a successful career in the world of finance, rising to become Secretary of the Bank of England
Grahame’s first book was about paganism, a belief quite fashionable with certain writers at the end of the nineteenth century.
His other love was children and writing success came in the 1890s with books about children. He wrote for children because he saw them as ‘the only really living people
Begun as a series of stories told by Kenneth Grahame to his six-year-old son, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the most beloved works of children’s literature ever written
During his early years in London, and even before beginning to work with the Bank of England, Kenneth became acquainted with some leading literary figures and began to socialise in literary circles. His own writings were kept fairly secret at first, with a few essays being published under a penname in St Edward's Chronicle, the school magazine of his former school.
[The Wind in the Willows] The book itself abounds in scenes of domestic coziness, charmed circles in their own right wherein we meet a mole, a water rat, a badger, each dwelling in comfortable womb-like burrows that exude that particularly British domestic security for which Grahame's book is often mist remembered
Among late-Victorian and Edwardian novels of fantasy, the one which seems to have retained the greatest power to affect readers emotionally, from childhood into adulthood, is Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. It is considered a "household book" because the feelings it arouses are so special and private
Loss, deprivation of place, and the desire to escape from the city seem to dominate Grahame's life.
Grahame retired from his work in 1908, officially because of health reasons, but perhaps also under pressure from his employees. His son Alastair, who appears to have been psychologically disturbed, committed suicide while an undergraduate at Oxford, by laying on train tracks at Oxford, two days before his 20th birthday. Grahame stopped writing after WW I.