In May of 1904, Kenneth Grahame’s son Alastair had a disastrous fourth birthday ending in a flood of tears. In his attempt to comfort his son, Kenneth Grahame promised a bedtime story about any subject his son chose.
Alastair, nicknamed Mouse, said he wanted a story about a rat, a mole and a giraffe. The story continued until midnight and for three years off and on after that with never a word being written down.
It was on Mouse’s seventh birthday, when he was to go to the shore for the summer that he made his father promise to continue the story in letters. Kenneth Grahame willingly complied and wrote his son fifteen letters between May and September of 1907, some of them upwards of 1000 words.
A friend, who had known of the ongoing saga, persuaded Grahame to recreate the earlier part of the story.
When THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS was published in 1908, there was no mention of a giraffe, but readers of all ages opened their hearts to Ratty, Mole and the irrepressible Mr. Toad, who was, after all, a cunning likeness to Mouse himself.