Friday, 29 June 2012


 It's no secret to those who know me that The WIND In The
WILLOWS, by KENNETH GRAHAME, is my all-time favourite
'kids' book.  I'm especially partial to the E.H. SHEPARD illustrated
edition, though I have quite a few other versions featuring the work of
different artists.  Apparently, ARTHUR RACKHAM was the author's
first choice to supply the visuals (if it had to have some - I believe he
thought the book would be better without pictures), though the artist
didn't actually get around to the task until about 30 years later, after
Grahame's death.  However, nice as Rackham's pictures are,
it is Shepard's which remain the definitive ones.

When Ernest Shepard accepted the commission on the book,
he was following three previous artists whose illustrations were far
from satisfactory.  Shepard drew 'real' animals, whereas his prede-
cessors had drawn anthropomorphic ones.  Grahame was delight-
ed with Shepard's interpretation and, a few years later, the artist was
called upon by the publishers, METHUEN, to provide eight colour
plates for a special edition of the book, complementing his earlier
evocative black and white line art which had preceded them.

As a treat, here are those eight colour pages - plus a copy of a
letter from THEODORE ROOSEVELT which, though written
22 years before E.H. Shepard's drawings were commissioned and
became such an indispensable part of the text, reveals that even
presidents were not immune to the charms of Kenneth
Grahame's classic work of literature.


baab said...

What does the title 'the piper at the gates of dawn',refer to Kid.?
I only know the pink floyd album.
I am not familiar with wind in the willows at all,other than various movies.

Kid said...

It refers to the demi-god Pan in chapter seven of the book. It has a touch of the numinous about it, from an animal's perspective of course. Grahame often alluded to Greek mythology in his writings, and it may even be quote from a poem or book on the subject.

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