Dennison has reason to be annoyed with Elspeth for the biography she oversaw after Grahame’s death in 1932. 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. Contents First Name Kenneth #33. Most Popular #111583. The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh in 1859, the third of four children in a well-to-do family living in Castle Street. She was a favourite of Sir John Tenniel, who wrote her annual valentines, and a friend of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. 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. He attended St. Edward's School there, and at the age of 17 began working as a clerk for the Bank of England. My daughter found the book a bit slow until it got to the adventures of absurdly puffed-up Mr Toad. 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. Sir Frederic Leighton, Lord Leighton PRA (Scarborough 1830 – Kensington 1896) (22), Elspeth 'Elsie' Thomson, Mrs Kenneth Grahame (1862-1946) (1) 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. 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. In a book on homosexuals in the 19th century, Graham Robb includes Kenneth Grahame, though among the “pre-sexual”. First Name Kenneth. Mole “trailed a paw in the water and dreamed long waking dreams” while Ratty thinks “poetry-things”. 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. Until then, Elspeth with her poodle and lady’s maid, and writing occasional verse, had filled a role as her stepfather’s hostess to eminent men like Tenniel (illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who once sent Elspeth a Valentine), Tennyson, Campbell-Bannerman and the Asquiths. 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”. Pisces. 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. 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. It was apparently seen hanging there in 1959. Grahame’s only child, Alastair (known as “Mouse”), was born in May 1900, ten months after his marriage. Roald Dahl. 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). Ominously, there is a pale stag in the tapestry of the room Mr Casaubon assigns to his bride. His face remained “beatifically” young with the rosy complexion of a healthy child. Women in Grahame’s works are dreamlike – fairies, princesses, enchantresses – not people 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. 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. 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. One is an admission from a contemporary that Grahame was “cruel” to his wife. Get the New Statesman’s Morning Call email. 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. Verso: Pencil on canvas: 266 With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, the good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. 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 The Wind in the Willows was adapted for the stage by A. 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. 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. He died in 1932 aged 73 and was buried in the same grave as Alastair. The Wind in the Willows developed out of stories he’d told Mouse. Dennison avoids labels with a subject hard to know. 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. 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. That was where they wed in July 1899. 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. This portrait of 19-year-old Elsie Thomson, who later married Kenneth Grahame of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ (1908) fame, is exquisitely executed. 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. 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. 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 website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit our website. Their son Alastair, who was nicknamed 'Mouse' and had only one eye, was the inspiration for Toad but committed suicide at 19. Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. 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. Sir William Blake Richmond KCB (London 1842 – London 1921), artist Born In 1859. 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. 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 was born on 8 March 1859 and was orphaned by the time he was five years old. Verso: Label in green stamp: 10774 We have to understand the reasons why this child developed so extreme a version of an escapist self. The enduring popularity, Dennison suggests, lies in nostalgia and an appeal “to the instinctive conservatism of small children who hanker to preserve their particular worlds intact”. 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. 205846, Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee, KCVO, RA (London 1853 – London 1928), Sir William Blake Richmond KCB (London 1842 – London 1921), Sir Frederic Leighton, Lord Leighton PRA (Scarborough 1830 – Kensington 1896), Elspeth 'Elsie' Thomson, Mrs Kenneth Grahame (1862-1946). 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). 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. It was not a disguise, not like that of Eliot in his banker identity complete with bowler hat and rolled umbrella. Her only surviving letter to Grahame does put him on the spot for a forgotten overture. “As a contribution to natural history the work is negligible,” said the Times Literary Supplement. He went to live with his grandmother in Cookham Dene, Berkshire. Children's Authors. When Grahame added marriage to his set of conformities, his heart wasn’t in it. What she loved were Shepard’s “cosy, wintry” illustrations of Ratty and Mole lost in the snow of the Wild Wood and finding a haven with the burly Badger, where they toast their toes at his hospitable fire. 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. There Grahame and another writer, Arthur Quiller-Couch (known as “Q”), liked “to mess about in boats”. These stories were collected in The Golden Age (1895) and its sequel Dream Days (1898). He is best known for his role in the HBO miniseries, Rome as Pompey Magnus . Few would guess that its author, Kenneth Grahame, was a tortured soul. no bottom left: [3? What is strange in this case is not the mismatch between private and public lives. The illustrator EH Shepard catches this idyll to perfection. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. But Grahame himself did go there, and more: he shaped himself to the Wide World. Born in 1859 #15. Children's Author. He instructs his friend Mole that anyone with sense would not go there. Instead the child turned to the Thames, surrounded by willows at the bottom of the garden. 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. Contemporary opinion saw Grahame as “a man’s man”. His frequent reminders of the blows Grahame suffered will speak to rational minds. This involvement gave a vulnerable and otherwise distanced boy a rare access to Grahame’s dreaming self. Verso: Stamp: Prepared by Windsor and Newton, 38 Rathbone Place, London Unpicking the myths, Dennison balances regard with disturbing facts. 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…. Childhood illness left Grahame with respiratory problems that followed him throughout his life. 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. Children's Author. The reminders are necessary because the blows, as they happen, are oddly unmoving. Kenneth Cranham (born 12 December 1944) is a Scottish film, television, radio and stage actor. Kenneth Grahame was a Scottish author best known for writing the children’s book The Wind in the Willows. He was a massive figure, tall and broad with no spare flesh. The four children were sent south to their cold maternal grandmother at The Mount, a crumbling house in Cookham Dean in Berkshire. Sir William Blake Richmond KCB (London 1842 – London 1921) (1) It is a story that adults have enjoyed as much as children. 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. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films. When Kenneth was barely a year old his father obtained the post of Sheriff of Argyll and the family moved from Edinburgh to Argyll. 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. This was one of the first portraits exhibited by Dicksee at the Grosvenor Galleries in 1882. Dennison thinks that the children were too small to find comfort in one another (a precursor to Kenneth’s adult estrangements from his siblings). 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. Dennison’s bold criticism stands out in a biography that is scrupulously just to its subject. Harold Lyon Thomson. Buy Kenneth Grahame: An Innocent in the Wild Wood Main by Prince, Alison (ISBN: 9780571253708) from Amazon's Book Store. Portrait (3570), © National Trust Images © National Trust Collections Registered Charity No. Cunningham was an attorney for the Court of Scotland in Edinburgh. Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 8, 1859. Jeff Kinney. At first they lived in Ardrishaig while a … 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. Kenneth Grahame, the third child of Cunningham and Bessie Grahame, born in Edinburgh at 32 Castle Street on 8th March 1859. 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. A. Milne as Toad of Toad Hall (1929). Kenneth Grahame, Writer: The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame Fans Also Viewed . 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: … 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. Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was not born in a dark and lowly little house. ... sources. She was also the step-daughter of John Fletcher Moulton, barrister and sometime Liberal MP. Poor Elspeth, set aside in the marital home, dwindled into a wraith. Managed by: Alison Liddell Muller (Griffiths) Last Updated: January 26, 2017 It’s a boys’ club, much like Grahame’s outdoorsy chums who did not try one another with intimacy. 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. They got together for rambles, with Grahame dressed like a countryman in tweed breeches and shapeless jacket. There is also, of course, the affinity for the natural world that will appeal to readers of all ages. The result is a sensitively probing and nuanced portrait that makes sense of the darker character furled in the dreamer. Their son Alastair, who was nicknamed 'Mouse' and had only one eye, was the inspiration for Toad but committed suicide at 19. Synopsis Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 8, 1859. 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. We meet the creatures of the riverbank as Ratty introduces Mole to an “intoxicating” drift in a boat. Lyndall Gordon’s books include “Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World” (Virago), Eternal Boy: The Life of Kenneth Grahame Kenneth Grahame charmed readers with The Wind in the Willows – but his personal life left tragedy in its wake. There were prizes and promotion. It seems that the picture was at Dorneywood as late as 1959 when a book on Grahame was written and the painting was illustrated. 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. Matthew Dennison In a book on homosexuals in the 19th century, Graham Robb includes Kenneth Grahame, though among the “pre-sexual”. 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. Women were out of it, although Elspeth Thomson, at 37, took herself down to Fowey, ready to enter Grahame’s space. So thin that she refused to be photographed, and no longer respectably dressed, she huddled in old cardigans and hand-knitted stockings. 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 Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. 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. Kenneth Grahame died at his home 'Church Cottage' in Pangbourne, Berkshire county, England, on 6 July 1932, at the age of 73. 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. Kenneth Grahame, like his son, was never to feel the carefree happiness his book. This “toy-soldiering”, it appears, was not fake. 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. 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. Initially, sales were poor. 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. 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. 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. Kenneth Grahame Popularity . Drawing on telling quotes from Grahame’s works, Dennison’s book more than meets the challenge of a walled-off man. 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. Kenneth Grahame Is A Member Of . Elspeth lived until 1946. Eventually, and with reservations, Methuen & Company accepted the book on the basis of royalties and without an advance. 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. Dennison avoids labels with a subject hard to know. Grahame's father was appointed Sheriff-Substitute of Argyllshire in 1860, and the family moved to Inverary. 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) 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. 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. 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 His father virtually abandoned his children to relatives, and Grahame was sent to boarding school in Oxford at the age of nine. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies. Fathering was another narrative that ended badly when Mouse, born blind in one eye, squinting and quirky, could not adapt to the dominant group. Dennison has chosen instead to tell a compassionate story of a boy so damaged by a loveless upbringing as to be incapable of sustained adult attachment. The divide in Grahame goes back to Inveraray on Loch Fyne in the west of Scotland. 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. Should he be excused as pathetically self-protective like Mr Casaubon, who disappoints his ardently willing wife, Dorothea, in Middlemarch? Marriage to the predatory Elspeth Thomson, when both seemed destined for the single life, was a shared fantasy of invented truth. He was found on the railway line at Oxford – one of his father’s enchanted places. In Grahame she saw another eminent man, broad-chested, well-born (his mother was twin to the heir of the Duke of Argyll) and well-off. Nature touched Grahame deeply; people did not. Author Born in Scotland #23. 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. 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. His father James Cunningham Grahame could trace his roots to Robert the Bruce. Recto: Inv. But the connection between her and the more senior Elsie remains a mystery. 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). Loyalty to caste and suppression of the masses are at the heart of its patrician creed. She has delicate features, a lovely benign expression and the detail of her dress and necklace are fine. He now rests with his wife and son in … So there’s the sum of Kenneth Grahame’s divided life: two wrecked people out of a family of three plus one endearing book. Only gradually does Dennison allow the facts to add up to something twisted, even dangerous to any human being who ventured too close. ]58, Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee, KCVO, RA (London 1853 – London 1928), artist There are also views of various places in England and Scotland, including Blewbury, Pangbourne, Inveraray, and Loch Fyne. It is signed and dated 1881, the year Dicksee was made an Associate of the Royal Academy. Yet from their first days together, on honeymoon at St Ives, the marriage collapsed. Dr. Seuss. Yet hard on the march, as it were, was a fantasist with toys scattered around his study and a doll drawer. This information comes courtesy of Simon Toll. For Mouse is said to be the source for the irrepressibly articulate Mr Toad. When he was not yet five, his mother died of scarlet fever, after which he was sent to his maternal grandmother’s house at Cookham Dean near the Thames. But by the time Kenneth entered the wide world, the royal blood had long diluted. Dennison thinks Elspeth partly to blame for leaning on a man who should not have married. 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. A scholar has said that popular children’s story ‘The Wind in the Willows’ can be read “as a gay manifesto”. 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. 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. 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. She was the daughter of Robert William Thomson (1822 -1873), the inventor of the pneumatic tyre and the first floating dock, and his wife, Clara Hertz. Banking on Mr. Toad will see Kebbel as Grahame and Headey as his wife Elsie, while Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon) is set to portray Grahame’s friend Frederick James Furnivall. In the early years he lived with his family in the Western highlands. Kenneth Grahame was a daydreamer, inventing in his mind ‘golden realms… golden lagoons and parrot-haunted jungles’. Kenneth Grahame was born on 8 March 1859 in Edinburgh. 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