His favourite place was the stretch of the Thames between Marlow and Pangbourne; also Fowey, the town clinging to a coastal hillside in Cornwall, looking down on a patch of blue. The sitter and her sister donated Dorneywood to the National Trust in 1943 with their brother Lord Courtauld-Thomson of Dorneywood as part of the Dorneywood Settlement. And yet a routinely brutal public school, St Edward’s in Oxford, which he entered at the age of nine and a half, and later, fellow bankers at the Treasury, provided traditional groups in which Grahame did more than function; he flourished. Banking On Mr Toad will use private archives to explore Kenneth Grahame’s unconventional relationship with his wife Elspeth and his career at the Bank of England. This “toy-soldiering”, it appears, was not fake. His mother died in 1864, after which Grahame and his three siblings were raised by their uncle, living first in Berkshire and then Cranbourne, England. It seems that the picture was at Dorneywood as late as 1959 when a book on Grahame was written and the painting was illustrated. With this in view, she destroyed papers that might contradict her myths, one of which was that she had inspired The Wind in the Willows. Daughter of Robert William Thomson (Inventor) and Clara Thomson Wife of Kenneth Grahame (Author) Mother of Alastair Grahame Sister of Col. Sir Courtauld Greenwood Courtauld-Thomson; Winifred Hope Thomson (Artist) and Capt. But the connection between her and the more senior Elsie remains a mystery. This was one of the first portraits exhibited by Dicksee at the Grosvenor Galleries in 1882. It was the heyday of divided lives, from the strange case of Jekyll and Hyde (1886) to the double voice of J Alfred Prufrock (1915), shifting from timorous lover to daring prophet. The picture is said to have been given by Dorothy Trevor Daintree, a medical graduate and the 'gracious and energetic English lady' who worked at Tripura missionary hospital in 1945. Oil painting on canvas, Miss Elsie (Elspeth) Thomson, later Mrs Kenneth Grahame (1862-1946) by Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee, KCVO, RA (London 1853 – London 1928), signed and dated upper left in red paint (obscured by frame): FRANK DICKSEE 1881. Trying to rouse himself, all he could think of to hearten his bride in his pre-wedding letter is that he means to “exhaust” her. Only gradually does Dennison allow the facts to add up to something twisted, even dangerous to any human being who ventured too close. Poor Elspeth, set aside in the marital home, dwindled into a wraith. Their son Alastair, who was nicknamed 'Mouse' and had only one eye, was the inspiration for Toad but committed suicide at 19. But Grahame himself did go there, and more: he shaped himself to the Wide World. His lasting fiction The Wind in the Willows (1908) was less successful at first, rejected by publishers and reviewers, who wanted a third volume of Olympians stories, not an animal fantasy. Dennison has reason to be annoyed with Elspeth for the biography she oversaw after Grahame’s death in 1932. Kenneth Cranham (born 12 December 1944) is a Scottish film, television, radio and stage actor. This portrait of 19-year-old Elsie Thomson, who later married Kenneth Grahame of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (1908) fame, is exquisitely executed. With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, the good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. Verso: Stamp: Prepared by Windsor and Newton, 38 Rathbone Place, London The Wind in the Willows developed out of stories he’d told Mouse. There, in 1864, when Kenneth was five, his mother Bessie died, and his father, once a clever young advocate in Edinburgh but already on a downhill course, collapsed in alcoholic grief. The book was popularised by adaptation for the stage (AA Milne’s Toad of Toad Hall in 1929, a staple of school plays), a television version in 1984 and more recently a musical by Julian Fellowes. of July 1932 leaving childhood & literature through him the more blest for all time And of his son Alistair Grahame Commoner of Christ Church 1920 Kenneth Grahame, (born March 8, 1859, Edinburgh, Scotland—died July 6, 1932, Pangbourne, Berkshire, England), British author of The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children’s literature.Its animal characters—principally Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad—combine captivating human traits with authentic animal habits. There are also views of various places in England and Scotland, including Blewbury, Pangbourne, Inveraray, and Loch Fyne. Sir William Blake Richmond KCB (London 1842 – London 1921) (1) He dropped out of Rugby School after six miserable weeks of what boys called “ragging” but was in fact bullying, then dropped out of Eton after a year. Loyalty to caste and suppression of the masses are at the heart of its patrician creed. Kenneth Grahame, like his son, was never to feel the carefree happiness his book. In a book on homosexuals in the 19th century, Graham Robb includes Kenneth Grahame, though among the “pre-sexual”. ]58, Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee, KCVO, RA (London 1853 – London 1928), artist Sir Frederic Leighton, Lord Leighton PRA (Scarborough 1830 – Kensington 1896) (22), Elspeth 'Elsie' Thomson, Mrs Kenneth Grahame (1862-1946) (1) Grahame’s future wife was very much a part of “society”, a competent organiser of social events, and possessed a strongly romantic, non-conformist streak – something which manifested itself on the day of her wedding at St. Fimbarrus, Fowey in 1899. Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland Location of death: Pangborne, Berkshire, England Cause of death: unspecified Remains: Buried, St. Also known for his short story, The Reluctant Dragon (1898). When he was five, his mother died of puerperal fever, and his father, who had a drinking problem, assigned care of Kenneth, his brother Willie, his sister Helen and the new baby Roland to Granny Ingles, the children's grandmother, in Cookham Dean in the village of Cookham in Berkshire. The passing appeal of a female circus performer with a rounded, earthy body and a fantasy about a chambermaid in a pink-spotted frock suggest, says Dennison, “boyish lust”. Kenneth Grahame (8 March 1859 – 6 July 1932) was a British writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. The reminders are necessary because the blows, as they happen, are oddly unmoving. Obviously, in the context of Oscar Wilde’s disgrace, men of that time had to be very, very careful, and Grahame was cautious enough to cease writing for The Yellow Book, the aesthetic journal publishing what were regarded as writers of dubious morality. More pertinent to writers is the dual figure in Henry James’s ghost tale, “The Private Life” (1892), where a celebrated author, holding forth in full public view, is found at the same time alone in his room, back-turned, intent on writing. Their son Alastair, who was nicknamed 'Mouse' and had only one eye, was the inspiration for Toad but committed suicide at 19. In later years his nostalgia for this setting, as he knew it between the ages of five and seven (when they moved away), lies behind The Wind in the Willows. This information comes courtesy of Simon Toll. Grahame's father was appointed Sheriff-Substitute of Argyllshire in 1860, and the family moved to Inverary. Verso: Pencil on canvas: 266 My daughter found the book a bit slow until it got to the adventures of absurdly puffed-up Mr Toad. Managed by: Alison Liddell Muller (Griffiths) Last Updated: January 26, 2017 Kenneth Grahame died at his home 'Church Cottage' in Pangbourne, Berkshire county, England, on 6 July 1932, at the age of 73. Kenneth Grahame was a daydreamer, inventing in his mind ‘golden realms… golden lagoons and parrot-haunted jungles’. Women in Grahame’s works are dreamlike – fairies, princesses, enchantresses – not people to know. Kenneth Grahame, Writer: The Wind in the Willows. At first they lived in Ardrishaig while a … Dennison thinks that the children were too small to find comfort in one another (a precursor to Kenneth’s adult estrangements from his siblings). Recto: Inv. In the early years he lived with his family in the Western highlands. Eventually, and with reservations, Methuen & Company accepted the book on the basis of royalties and without an advance. All the while, he could sink into his other self, composing stories about five orphans who reject the “Olympians”, the aunts and uncles who suppress imaginative children. There Grahame and another writer, Arthur Quiller-Couch (known as “Q”), liked “to mess about in boats”. After failing his Greek, Latin and holy studies exams three times at Christ Church, Mouse died, almost certainly by suicide, at the age of 20. A moving biography of Kenneth Grahame, author of the children's classic The Wind in the Willows, and of the vision of English pastoral life that inspired it. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. I am at present staying in a little island known as England, of which you may have heard… Nothing doing here at present, England is a dull little place!” Such sportive retorts could have spurred his father to go on with what was to prove Grahame’s only full-length fiction. Born In 1859. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh in 1859, the third of four children in a well-to-do family living in Castle Street. There were prizes and promotion. Dennison avoids labels with a subject hard to know. The Kenneth Grahame Literary File consists of 150 photographs (147 photographic prints and 3 nitrate negatives), including portraits and snapshots of Grahame, his son Alastair, his wife Elspeth, and various other people. But the Frank Dicksee expert, Simon Toll, got in touch with the Trust in 2013 and told us of the existence of the signature of this Victorian artist and its date on the picture, based on original photographic sources when the painting was exhibited at the Grosvenor Galleries in 1882. Get the New Statesman’s Morning Call email. Mole “trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams” while Ratty thinks “poetry-things”. Grahame's father, Cunningham, a Scottish lawyer, reacted to his wife's death by drinking himself into a stupor from which he never really emerged: … Few would guess that its author, Kenneth Grahame, was a tortured soul. Kenneth Grahame charmed readers with The Wind in the Willows – but his personal life left tragedy in its wake. That was where they wed in July 1899. This portrait was once thought to be a portrait of Dorothy Trevor Daintree (1888 – 1965) who purportedly gave the picture to the Trust and, based on stylistic evidence, it was attributed to William Blake Richmond (1842 – 1921). A head-and-shoulders portrait of the future wife of Kenneth Grahame, author of 'The Wind in the Willows' (1908) whom she marrried in 1899. Kenneth Grahame (West side:) To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame husband of Elspeth and father of Alistair who passed the river on the 6th. A. Milne as Toad of Toad Hall (1929). First Name Kenneth #33. So there’s the sum of Kenneth Grahame’s divided life: two wrecked people out of a family of three plus one endearing book. When the First World War came, his authoritative moustache (almost as thick as Lord Kitchener’s in the finger-pointing poster saying “Your Country Needs You”) prompted his appointment as commanding officer to a non-combatant regiment. Kenneth Grahame, the third child of Cunningham and Bessie Grahame, born in Edinburgh at 32 Castle Street on 8th March 1859. It is to be expected, as TS Eliot put it: “Our lives are covered by the currents of action.” Indeed, in Grahame’s children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows, Ratty, the Water Rat, shuns the Wide World beyond the Wild Wood. They got together for rambles, with Grahame dressed like a countryman in tweed breeches and shapeless jacket. He attended St. Edward's School there, and at the age of 17 began working as a clerk for the Bank of England. For Casaubon never considers his effect on his wife when he rebuffs an affectionate gesture with an act of formal courtesy, placing a chair for her to seat herself at a safe distance. Verso: Label in green stamp: 10774 She was a favourite of Sir John Tenniel, who wrote her annual valentines, and a friend of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In the end this book peels back actions to reveal a phenomenon that may not be all that uncommon: an “eternal boy” who cannot grow up yet manages to appear a specimen of manhood who ticks all the boxes. There is also, of course, the affinity for the natural world that will appeal to readers of all ages. Jeff Kinney. She was also the step-daughter of John Fletcher Moulton, barrister and sometime Liberal MP. For Mouse is said to be the source for the irrepressibly articulate Mr Toad. First Name Kenneth. The illustrator EH Shepard catches this idyll to perfection. Kenneth Grahame found solace from a joyless life with Ratty and Toad, says Ysenda Maxtone Graham Ysenda Maxtone Graham Saturday October 20 2018, 12.01am , The Times Dennison avoids labels with a subject hard to know. She, with her sister, Winifred, and their brother, Courtauld, gave their home Dorneywood to the National Trust in 1943 for exclusive use of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Her only surviving letter to Grahame does put him on the spot for a forgotten overture. Here, listening, was a boy often away from home, who at 11 wrote to his father: “I hear that you have taken advantage of my absence to make a bolt for France. He now rests with his wife and son in … Kenneth Grahame was a Scottish author best known for writing the children’s book The Wind in the Willows. Contemporary opinion saw Grahame as “a man’s man”. Dennison thinks Elspeth partly to blame for leaning on a man who should not have married. At Dorneywood until at least 1959; given by Dr Dorothy Trevor Daintree (1888 - 1965), Verso: Label on back Alastair Laing: All my efforts to find out where this portrait came from - and thus, perhaps, the sitter's identity, have proved fruitless. He is best known for his role in the HBO miniseries, Rome as Pompey Magnus . His face remained “beatifically” young with the rosy complexion of a healthy child. We learn not to dislike him for paleness – he can’t help that, and Dorothea herself comes to pity her husband as a poor, lamed creature – but George Eliot does point to the unloveliness of wilful oblivion. Fathering was another narrative that ended badly when Mouse, born blind in one eye, squinting and quirky, could not adapt to the dominant group. He instructs his friend Mole that anyone with sense would not go there. Elspeth complained of sex to Emma Hardy, the neglected wife of the poet, who replied that “hundreds of wives” found themselves disappointed when it came to love. Sir William Blake Richmond KCB (London 1842 – London 1921), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Sir Frederic Leighton, Lord Leighton PRA (Scarborough 1830 – Kensington 1896), artist, Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee, KCVO, RA (London 1853 – London 1928) (5) His letters to his bride-to-be are skittish, locked in a childish lingo that pretends to amuse but really serves as a “screen” against intimacy. Should he be excused as pathetically self-protective like Mr Casaubon, who disappoints his ardently willing wife, Dorothea, in Middlemarch? Whilst holidaying with his wife in May of 1907, Kenneth Grahame wrote the first of fifteen letters to his son and ended it with mention of Toad, a fantastical character recently introduced to seven-year-old Alistair‘s bedtime stories, in part to better teach him right from wrong. Most Popular #111583. It is triumphantly an exercise in denial, written within a decade of the First World War at a moment when death duties, agricultural slump and left-wing political philosophies had begun an onslaught on inherited privilege…. What is strange in this case is not the mismatch between private and public lives. I have, however, shown a photograph of it to a Victorian expert, Christopher Newall, who thought that it might be by Sir William Blake Richmond (1842 - 1921) -named from his father's late friendship with Blake), and this has been conformed by the author of the work in progress on the artist, Simon Reynolds The Wind in the Willows was adapted for the stage by A. Yet hard on the march, as it were, was a fantasist with toys scattered around his study and a doll drawer. This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit our website. “As a contribution to natural history the work is negligible,” said the Times Literary Supplement. Head of Zeus, 288pp, £18.99, Lyndall Gordon is the author of “Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World” (Virago), This article appears in the 09 November 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Revenge of the nation state, How nature reclaims the places humans have abandoned. Kenneth Grahame Popularity . Matthew Dennison shows us a somewhat similar feat: the co-existence of a fancy-free “eternal boy” and a public conformist throughout the double life of Kenneth Grahame. Dr. Seuss. When Grahame added marriage to his set of conformities, his heart wasn’t in it. Synopsis Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. Initially, sales were poor. Lyndall Gordon’s books include “Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World” (Virago), Eternal Boy: The Life of Kenneth Grahame Unpicking the myths, Dennison balances regard with disturbing facts. Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. It makes sense that the Trust should have this painting as the sitter; her sister, Winifred; and their brother, Courtauld, gave their home Dorneywood to the National Trust in 1943 for use by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (just as Chequers was given by Viscount Lee for use of the Prime Minister). Contents He went to live with his grandmother in Cookham Dene, Berkshire. A photograph of the picture taken soon after its exhibition shows that it is signed and dated which is only just visible now; the picture was unframed by National Trust's painting conservator, Tina Sitwell, in April 2013 and its presence confirmed. The four children were sent south to their cold maternal grandmother at The Mount, a crumbling house in Cookham Dean in Berkshire. His father James Cunningham Grahame could trace his roots to Robert the Bruce. Elspeth did not wear her London-made wedding dress, downplaying the event for an uneasy, forty-something bachelor who had beckoned her fitfully – but more often, and worryingly, retreated into his Boys’ Own world. Grahame, his wife and their son lived in Cookham Dean, Berkshire from 1906 though the author spent much of his time during the week at his London home which he sshared with Walford Graham Robertson. Drawing on telling quotes from Grahame’s works, Dennison’s book more than meets the challenge of a walled-off man. Pisces. Here is what can happen to a child removed from domestic affection, “institutionalised” too young in a public school, and then compelled to give up natural longings for adventure and higher education to join the London branch of the family law firm, followed by a gentleman-clerkship in the Bank of England. So thin that she refused to be photographed, and no longer respectably dressed, she huddled in old cardigans and hand-knitted stockings. He died in 1932 aged 73 and was buried in the same grave as Alastair. Children's Author. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies. Ominously, there is a pale stag in the tapestry of the room Mr Casaubon assigns to his bride. Grahame gamely took on these expected narratives, supplemented by the “toy-soldiering”, but then, at the peak of his public success, he began a narrative he could not manage. Author Born in Scotland #23. Cunningham was an attorney for the Court of Scotland in Edinburgh. This had been obscured by the current frame but on closer examination, in red paint on the top left hand corner, it is signed and dated 1881, the year Dicksee was made an Associate of the Royal Academy and of which he was later to become President. Kenneth Grahame. Childhood illness left Grahame with respiratory problems that followed him throughout his life. Where Eliot could confide (to Lytton Strachey) that as a clerk at Lloyds Bank he was “sojourning among the termites”, Grahame was at the top of his game as secretary to the Bank of England, and even more so when he drilled with a volunteer London Scottish regiment. It was apparently seen hanging there in 1959. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. We meet the creatures of the riverbank as Ratty introduces Mole to an “intoxicating” drift in a boat. When he was a little more than a year old, his father, an advocate, received an appointment as sheriff-substitute in Argyllshire, at Inveraray on Loch Fyne. These stories were collected in The Golden Age (1895) and its sequel Dream Days (1898). Children's Author. Yet from their first days together, on honeymoon at St Ives, the marriage collapsed. She has delicate features, a lovely benign expression and the detail of her dress and necklace are fine. The result is a sensitively probing and nuanced portrait that makes sense of the darker character furled in the dreamer. In a book on homosexuals in the 19th century, Graham Robb includes Kenneth Grahame, though among the “pre-sexual”. It’s a boys’ club, much like Grahame’s outdoorsy chums who did not try one another with intimacy. A head-and-shoulders portrait of the future wife of Kenneth Grahame, author of 'The Wind in the Willows' (1908) whom she marrried in 1899. Portrait (3570), © National Trust Images © National Trust Collections Registered Charity No. Nature touched Grahame deeply; people did not. Matthew Dennison Kenneth Grahame Fans Also Viewed . Children's Authors. We have to understand the reasons why this child developed so extreme a version of an escapist self. Born in 1859 #15. Roald Dahl. Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was not born in a dark and lowly little house. Instead the child turned to the Thames, surrounded by willows at the bottom of the garden. Kenneth Grahame was born on 8 March 1859 in Edinburgh. Another is a political reading of The Wind in the Willows: This is an aggressively conservative book and its targets include socialism and any form of faddishness or craving for novelty, Toad’s weakness. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films. Buy Kenneth Grahame: An Innocent in the Wild Wood Main by Prince, Alison (ISBN: 9780571253708) from Amazon's Book Store. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows is a children's novel by Scottish novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 8, 1859. This involvement gave a vulnerable and otherwise distanced boy a rare access to Grahame’s dreaming self. The divide in Grahame goes back to Inveraray on Loch Fyne in the west of Scotland. One is an admission from a contemporary that Grahame was “cruel” to his wife. 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Born 12 December 1944 ) is a Scottish film, television, radio and stage actor John,... Portrait that makes sense of the room Mr Casaubon, who disappoints his willing... There are also views of various places in England and Scotland, Blewbury! A biography that is scrupulously just to its subject it were, was never to feel the carefree happiness book! As Pompey Magnus, set aside in the marital home, dwindled into wraith. The detail of her dress and necklace are fine telling quotes from Grahame ’ s outdoorsy chums who not. Was buried in the 19th century, Graham Robb includes kenneth Grahame, was a favourite Sir! Women in Grahame ’ s book the Wind in the same grave as Alastair added to. This idyll to perfection with Grahame dressed like a countryman in tweed breeches shapeless... 1895 ) and its sequel Dream Days ( 1898 ) this child developed so extreme a of! 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