First Whisper of "The Wind in the Willows"

First Whisper of "The Wind in the Willows"

First Whisper of "The Wind in the Willows"

First Whisper of "The Wind in the Willows"

Excerpt

History may be told in two ways: backwards or forwards -- just as a river may be traced from its finish where a battleship may ride, to its tiny, moss-covered source which could scarcely harbour a child's paper boat, or from the all but untraceable trickle of the river to its ending.

Now to start on our history backwards: here is the book itself, speaking for itself into many ears and into many hearts. This requires no explanation nor comment. But how the completed book came into being, does. And as such evidence is rarely available, let me furnish it in the form of "Whispers" one -- two -- and three, in their sequence backwards, which takes us to the very earliest and softest whisper of all.

First of these are the "letters" on which the book is based, which were written by Kenneth Grahame as a substitute for the bedtime stories told by him to his little son who -- refusing point-blank to go away to the seaside, because he would miss the adventures of Toad -- was promised by his father that further instalments of these should be forwarded to him in writing, and this was done almost chapter by chapter. His nursery-governess who read the "adventures" aloud to the child, evidently saw there was something unusual about them, for she preserved them and posted them to me for safe keeping, knowing full well that, if restored to the author, they would merely be consigned to the waste-paper basket.

No one had ever heard these stories related, except the . . .

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