The Wind in the Willows

GRAHAME, Kenneth


GRAHAME, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows

Methuen, 1908.

First edition. 8vo. Original blue-green cloth with gilt vignettes and titles to the spine and upper cover. Top edge gilt. Author's presentation copy, inscribed by Grahame on the half title, "To Ruth Ward, from her friend Kenneth Grahame / Oct. 1908" Woodcut frontispiece by Graham Robertson. A little wear to the spine ends and corners, but generally bright and clean and notably fresh internally.

A rare presentation copy of one of the classics of children's literature. Ruth Ward was the daughter of family friends of the Grahames, Sidney and Katherine Ward. Sidney Ward was a colleague of Grahame's at the Bank of England who became a close friend and "companions for hearty country weekends". (ODNB)
Ruth was the same age as Grahame's son, Alastair, (known to his parents as Mouse) and became a close childhood friend. Wind in the Willows had its genesis in a series of impromptu bedtime stories which Grahame told Alastair. Katherine Ward was one of the first to hear about these stories, as Grahame refers to them in a letter to her of May 1904,
"[Mouse] had a bad crying fit on the night of his birthday, and I had to tell him stories about moles, giraffes & water-rats (he selected these subjects) till after 12."
This copy was sent by Grahame to Ward as a birthday present. In a letter to her, Grahame's wife Elspeth writes, "I thought you might like perhaps better than anything else a new book that Mouse's Daddy has just written, so I asked him for one for your birthday present. I want to know how you like it."
The two families remained in contact throughout Grahame's life, Elspeth writing to Ruth Ward on Grahame's death in 1932 to tell him that he had been buried next to Mouse (who had committed suicide in 1920), "Kenneth so loved the Boy & so loved Oxford itself that we are glad to think he rests there. I felt you knew Mouse so well & Kenneth also that I would like you to know they were together..."
Presentation copies of the first edition of Wind in the Willows are of the utmost rarity in commerce. We know of but six copies,
1. Inscribed to Helen Grahame (Oct. 1908). Private American Collection.
2. Inscribed to Ruth Ward (Oct. 1908). Present copy.
3. Inscribed to Foy Quiller-Couch (Oct. 1908). Private American Collection.
4. Inscribed to Thomas Anstey Guthrie ("F. Anstey") (Oct. 1908). Private British collection.
5. Inscribed to Constance Smedley (Oct. 1908). Sold Sotheby Oct. 1981.
6. Inscribed to Mary E. Richardson. Sold Sotheby July 1965.

PROVENANCE: Ruth Ward (b. 1899, presentation inscription from the Author); Family descent; David Holmes (1945-2016, noted collector of Kenneth Grahame).

Osborne p. 349

Stock ID: 38987


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