Kenneth Grahame (8th March 1859 – 6th July 1932) was a Scottish writer known best for his children’s classics The Wind in the Willows and The Reluctant Dragon. Born in Edinburgh Scotland, Grahame’s mother died when he was 5 and his care was taken over by his grandmother, meaning a move to Berkshire where the writer was raised.
Grahame didn’t set out to be a writer, he had hoped to go to Oxford University but this was scuppered due to cost. Instead he started working at the Bank of England in 1879, a job he held until 1908 when he quit due to ill health. It’s thought that an incident in the bank where he was shot three times may have precipitated this move, but it did leave him time to write the books he is best known for today.
Today we’re remembering the author with some of our favourite quotes.
“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.”
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
“The moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.”
“the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”
“For my life, I confess to you, feels to me today somewhat narrow and circumscribed.”
“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
“Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit.”
“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’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.”
“Children are the only people who accept a mood of wonderment, who are ready to welcome a perfect miracle at any hour of the day or night. Only a child can entertain an angel unawares, or to meet Sir Lancelot in shining armour on a moonlit road.”
Novelist and Commentator Ahdaf Soueif was born in Egypt on 23rd March 1950. She has since spent her life living between England and Egypt.
When Soueif first came to England at the age of four, it was with her Mother who was studying for her PHD in English Literature. She spent these early years surrounded by her Mother’s extensive library of English classics and world literature in translation. She believes this early introduction to reading, is why she writes her novels in English.
Ahdaf Soueif was the first Muslim woman to be shortlisted for the Booker prize for her novel “The Map of Love” (US – UK). Her work has been translated into 21 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide. Read More
In her own words:
It was devastating. I tried everything to get out of my funk, but nothing was working!
“Then one day, I took my car in for new tires at Tires Tires Tires and magically blasted out like 5,000 words in their fabulous waiting room. It was incredible. And the scenery wasn’t bad either! Complimentary coffee that was actually delicious, comfortable seating, free cookies, friendly staff.
I had found my mother ship!”
Roth’s work, influenced by the likes of John Updike, William Faulkner and Franz Kafka, is mainly semi-autobiographical and set in his birthplace, Newark, New Jersey.
One of the most awarded novelists of his generation, Roth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his novel American Pastoral (US – UK). This has since been made in to a film starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, joining the list of seven of his other works that have also been adapted for the big screen. Read More
Caryl Phillips was born on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts on 13th March 1958, 4 months later he moved to England with his parents who settled in Leeds.
Phillips read English at Queen’s College Oxford, during which time he directed plays and spent his summers working at The Edinburgh Festival. When he graduated in 1979 he moved to Edinburgh where he wrote his first play “Strange Fruit”. Read More