Elspeth Grahame persuaded her husband to use his letters to Alastair as the basis for a proper children’s story. The resulting book, The Wind in the Willows, tells the amusing, lively and morally instructive tale of a group of animals pursuing various adventures along the river, in the threatening Wild Wood and on the road.
Perhaps the most memorable character is Toad of Toad Hall, an excitable, impetuous, swaggering figure, whose almost hypnotic obsession with the speed and noise of the newly invented motorcar leads him badly astray.
The Wind in the Willows is a wonderfully entertaining and educating read for children. Yet its impressionistic rendering of the English landscape, subtle questioning of modernity and mythic exploration of grace lend it a sophistication that speaks to adults too.
Shown here are various images from the original manuscript of The Wind in the Willows, given to the Bodleian Library by Elspeth Grahame in 1943.