Dr Chris Fletcher, Exeter College Fellow by Special Election and Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian Library, has appeared on a BBC Radio 4 documentary about Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s book The Wind in the Willows: Laverne in the Willows, hosted by Lauren Laverne.
Dr Fletcher describes for listeners the genesis of the famous children’s book, which began as a very private story for Grahame’s son, Alistair. The Bodleian contains letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son which feature early adventures of the characters who would evolve into the much-loved Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad. The Library also contains the manuscript of the book, which Kenneth Grahame was encouraged to write by his wife Elspeth, along with a first edition of the book with an inscription from Grahame to his son.
Dr Fletcher goes on to draw comparisons between The Wind in the Willows and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
As well as in depth discussion from Dr Fletcher the programme also features excerpts from the book read by Exonian Alan Bennett (1954, Modern History).
You can listen to Laverne in the Willows on the BBC website by clicking here.