The riverbank adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger and the incorrigible Mr Toad have now taken their place among the earliest memories of at least four generations of children.
The beauty of Kenneth Grahame’s prose is widely acknowledged but the story is so full of wonderful imagery that it almost demands to be illustrated – despite this, when first published in 1908 it was without pictures. The book has been in print ever since but what is less well known is that it has now been illustrated by more than ninety artists – making it the most widely illustrated book in the English language!
‘The Wind in the Willows’ is notable for its mixture of adventure, camaraderie, morality and mysticism. It is however a far more thought provoking and interesting book than its popular and often young audience might appreciate. It deserves recognition as a novel in which adult readers will find not just humour and entertainment but wisdom and meaning. Quite intriguingly, academics continue to argue as to whether it is a book for children or for adults – a theme I shall expand upon.
In this evocative presentation we will revisit the story through the eyes of famous children’s illustrators such as E H Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Robert Ingpen, Inga Moore and Val Biro among others. Where appropriate I will compare and contrast the same scene as depicted by different artists – a study known as ‘comparative illustration’.We will also explore how the story came to be written for Kenneth Grahame’s son Alastair and the interesting but ultimately tragic life of Kenneth Grahame.
Your lecture about Children’s Book Illustrations was so enjoyable and it brought back so many happy memories for us. Numerous members have commented on the lecture being so well constructed and delivered with such warmth and humour. In addition, your use of PowerPoint was exemplary.
Programme Secretary, The Arts Society – North London