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Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Rare copy of Wind in the Willows in London auction
Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame fell in love with Cornwall spending many holidays in Fowey

Descendants of the Cornishman who's said to be have been the inspiration for Ratty in 'Wind in the Willows' have sold a first edition copy of the novel.

Kenneth Grahame, the book's author, gave it to Cornish schoolgirl Foy Felicia Quiller-Couch in 1908.

Grahame was a regular guest in the house of her father, the noted Cornish author, essayist and anthologist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

The book went for more than £30,000 in the auction in London.

It was whilst staying at the Haven that Grahame was inspired to write Wind in the Willows.

First Edition copy of Wind in the Willows
The edition features a personal inscription from Grahame

Quiller-Couch is thought to have been the model for the character of Ratty, both having a penchant for 'messing about in boats'.

Grahame based the other characters in the timeless novel on people he knew.

The wayward headstrong nature Grahame saw in his little son Alistair (also known as "Mouse") he transformed into the swaggering Mr. Toad.

The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth overlooks the Fal Estuary and also has strong links with Kenneth Grahame.

When the author was staying at the hotel in May 1907 he started writing stories in the form of letters to his son. These went on to form 'The Wind in the Willows'.

Despite its success, he never attempted a sequel.

Kenneth Grahame made a boat trips along this stretch of the Fowey River while he was on his Cornish holidays.

Many believe his ferry outings became an inspiration for the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows where the Rat and the Mole make a boat trip along the river for a picnic.

Cornwall played an important role in the life of Kenneth Grahame. Not only was Fowey the inspiration for his most famous work, it was also where he married.

In 1897 Kenneth met Elspeth Thompson. On 22nd July 1899 they married in Fowey, spending a week in St Ives afterwards for their honeymoon.

Surprisingly, the first publishers rejected it, and it was not until October 1908, after several rejections and some pro-active campaigning by President Roosevelt in the United States, that the book was finally published by Methuen and Co.

In 1929, AA Milne dramatised the story for the stage as 'Toad of Toad Hall'.

At the end of 2006 Matt Lucas and Bob Hoskins headed an all star cast in a BBC production of The Wind in the Willows, proving that the book produced 100 years ago, had taken on a timeless quality.

The first edition of Wind in the Willows was auctioned by Bonhams on Tuesday 23 March 2010.

It is signed: "To Foy Felicia Quiller Couch from her affectionate friend Kenneth Grahame, Oct. 1908"

The book sold for £32,000, vastly exceeding the £5,000 estimate.

Classic Willows story turns 100
08 Oct 08 |  Arts & Culture


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