The Wind in the Willows is a children’s book by the British novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternatingly slow-moving and fast-paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animals: Mole, Rat (a European water vole), Toad, and Badger. They live in a pastoral version of Edwardian England.
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 to quote, “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 A. A. Milne adapted part of it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall in 1929. The first film adaptation was produced by Walt Disney as one of two segments in the 1949 package film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Numerous adaptations in film and television have followed since.
In 2003, The Wind in the Willows was listed at #16 in the BBC’s survey The Big Read. More than a century after its original publication, it was adapted again for the stage, as a 2014 musical by Julian Fellowes.