The Wind in the Willows is a children’s novel by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animals in a pastoral version of Edwardian England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality and camaraderie, and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames Valley.
This edition of The Wind in the Willows is published by Free Kids Books, it is a non-illustrated version (excluding the cover) for smaller file size. The pdf is in a user friendly easily readable font, page numbers and chapter index.
In 1908, Grahame retired from his position as secretary of the Bank of England. He moved back to Berkshire, where he had lived as a child, and spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do – as the book says, “simply messing about in boats” – and expanding the bedtime stories he had earlier told his son Alastair into a manuscript for the book.
The novel was in its 31st printing when playwright A. A. Milne adapted part of it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall in 1929. Almost a century later, it was adapted again for the stage as a musical by Julian Fellowes. In 2003, The Wind in the Willows was listed at number 16 in the BBC’s survey The Big Read.
Sample Text From The Wind in the Willows
THE Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said ‘Bother!’ and ‘O blow!’ and also ‘Hang springcleaning!’ and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.
Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, ‘Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.
‘This is fine!’ he said to himself. ‘This is better than whitewashing!’ The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.
‘Hold up!’ said an elderly rabbit at the gap. ‘Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road!’ He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about.
<End of page 1 from The Wind in the Willows>
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