A compelling blend of adventure, camaraderie, and mysticism, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows has been beloved by readers of all ages since its publication in 1908. While he was in office, U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Grahame to tell him that he saw the novel’s principal characters—Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger—as “old friends.” Here are some interesting facts about The Wind in the Willows and its author.
- The structure and setting of the novel came from bedtime stories that Grahame told to his son Alastair, which were further developed in letters he wrote while he was alone on boating vacations.
- The character of Toad—a wealthy and friendly but impulsive personality—was inspired by Alastair, who was born partially blind and suffered from health problems until his death at age 20.
- A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, adapted the novel for the stage in 1929 as Toad of Toad Hall, focusing on the chapters that tell of Toad’s misadventures.
- Many film adaptations and abridged editions of the novel leave out some chapters that stray from the main storyline. Chapter seven, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” is the most famous of these, as it takes the story down a mystical path where Ratty and Mole encounter the demigod Pan, who protects the animals of the Wild Wood.
- Speaking of film adaptations, Disney created their own version of the story on the big screen in 1949. Next time you are at Disneyland Park, hop on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". It is one of the few remaining rides that originally opened along with the park itself on opening day in 1955.
- While working at the Bank of England in 1903, Grahame was shot at three times by a would-be robber; all three shots missed.
- Grahame died in 1932, and was buried in the same grave as his son Alastair at Holywell Cemetery in Oxford, England.