Born on March 8, 1859, Kenneth Grahame lived his childhood in the Highlands of Scotland and in England. His father was an attorney, his great-uncle a poet, and his cousin, Anthony Hope, wrote The Prisoner of Zenda. His branch of the family had to deal with his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s death from scarlet fever. The children were raised by their grandmother near the Thames, in Cookham Dene. The family’s misfortunes meant that Grahame wasn’t able to attend University, but his uncle found him a position at the Bank of England.
It was during this time that he began writing in earnest, contributing nonfiction articles to newspapers and fiction and poetry to magazines such as the St. James Gazette, the National Observer, and The Yellow Book. In 1893, several of his stories about orphaned children were published as Pagan Papers. Another collection followed in 1896, The Golden Age. Dream Days (1898) included his most famous short story, “The Reluctant Dragon,” which several illustrators have made into picture books.
Of course, Grahame’s most famous and enduring book is The Wind in the Willows, which was published in 1908. The first edition was text-only. Illustrations were featured in later editions, notably by Ernest H. Shepard. That version wasn’t published until 1933. Since that time, many different editions have been published, recognizing the book’s continuing popularity.
He died on July 6, 1932 in Berkshire, England.