Kenneth Grahame (Kenneth Grahame)

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame wanted to attend Oxford University, but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of England in 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health, which may have been precipitated by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank in 1903. Grahame was shot at three times, all shots missing. An alternative explanation, given in a letter on display in the Bank museum, is that he had quarrelled with Walter Cunliffe, one of the bank’s directors, who would later become Governor of the Bank of England, in the course of which he was heard to say that Cunliffe was “no gentleman”, and that his retirement was enforced ostensibly on health grounds. He was awarded an annual pension of £400 but a worked example on display indicates he was actually due £710. Kenneth Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899; they had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”) born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life. On Grahame’s retirement, they returned to Cookham where he had lived as a child, and lived at Mayfield, now Herries Preparatory School, where he turned the bedtime stories he told Alastair into his masterpiece. Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May 1920. Out of respect for Grahame, Alastair’s demise was recorded as an accidental death. Kenneth Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Grahame’s cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: “To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time.”

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Born

  • March, 08, 1859
  • United Kingdom
  • Edinburgh, Scotland

Died

  • July, 06, 1932
  • United Kingdom
  • Pangbourne, Berkshire, England

Cemetery

  • St Cross Churchyard
  • Oxfordshire, England
  • United Kingdom

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