Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 08:40 UK

Classic Willows story turns 100

Wind in the Willows. Copyright: Estate of E. H. Shephard
Wind in the Willows became an instant hit when it was published

A competition to write a modern Wind in the Willows has been launched to mark the 100th anniversary of Kenneth Grahame's classic book.

Grahame's riverbank tale of Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger became a huge hit when it was published on 8 October 1908.

A museum in Oxfordshire wants to see how the characters would cope with 21st century living.

Paul Mainds, of Henley's River & Rowing Museum said, it was a chance for Wind in The Willows fans to get creative.

"The Wind in the Willows is one of the great treasures of children's fiction," he said.

"Kenneth Grahame knew all about the power of the river on the imagination, and on our real lives.

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"This competition gives authors the opportunity to re-animate these themes and make them more relevant for today's young readers, especially in light of the environmental issues that now effect our rivers and the wildlife that lives in and around them."

Meanwhile, a new exhibition at the Bank of England museum will chart the the non-literary career of Grahame.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see his hand-written letter of resignation for the first time, along with other letters, notes and pictures relating to his 30-year employment at the bank.

The Wind in the Willows was published just months after Grahame left the bank, blaming ill-health and mental pressures for the decision.

Kenneth Grahame's resignation letter is displayed at the Bank of England Museum
Grahame's resignation letter will be displayed at the Bank of England

In his resignation letter, written on 15 June 1908, he said the "constant strain" of the post meant he was "very anxious" and feared "further deterioration of brain and nerve".

Other letters and exhibits in the new display, which will open at the museum in London on Wednesday, refer to an incident in 1903 when a gunman entered the bank and fired shots at Grahame.

Museum curator John Keyworth said Grahame was a very shy, intelligent man.

He said: "Grahame's bank career is little-known, but it is very likely that his 30-year career had some influence on his writing; either the direct influence of colleagues on the famous characters he created or the atmosphere of life at the grand old institution imbuing his work."

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