Sunday, 13 January 2019

In Her Spare Room

Dear Reader,

                                                                            Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty

I have been reading an excellent book given to me at Christmas about Kenneth Grahame's life by Matthew Dennison called 'Eternal Boy'.  As most of you readers will know 'The Wind in the Willows' is one of my very favourite books and I thought you might like a snippet of information about the author's life. 

In January 1879 Kenneth arrived for the first time at the Bank of England and started work in the position of gentleman clerk.    He was nineteen years old, serious-minded, tall, and broad-shouldered.  He had not been keen to work in a bank and had hoped to go to Oxford University  but his uncle, John Grahame, refused to fund a university education.  He  thought a good job in a bank was what Kenneth should have and procured him a place at the Bank of England.  Kenneth had read a piece by George Augustus Sala, published in 1859, which painted a sober picture of the clerk's working day.   He described a 'great army of clerk martyrs....settling down to their loads of cash-book and ledger-fillers' each morning like clockwork.  Sala apostrophised their wretchedness...

During his life,  Kenneth wrote many essays rejecting commercial, cooperate and committee life, celebrating the 'escape' of city men from the daily grind. His real love was the countryside and in particular, waters and rivers.   Long after his retirement when asked to write about his experiences at the Bank of England he replied  'Nothing doing ....much too dull a subject.'


In Her Spare Room

I see these books,
draw in a breath,
as cherished memories
race into my head.

These are:

Portrait of an English Village
Swallows and Amazons 
The Speckledy Hen
The Little Flower of St. Francis
My Friend Flicka
The Wind in the Willows
Tales of an Old Inn

The owner of this house
is unknown to me,
but her collection
of treasured books
tells me a little of her,
what makes her who she is,
what makes me who I am.


Very best wishes, Patricia



Anonymous said...

I've always loved Wind in the Willows too. Thank goodness Grahame had time to write it despite working in the bank. Books- they mean so much. Mxx

Jessica said...

Lovely blog and poem. Perhaps Grahame wouldn’t never have written if he’d lived in the countryside.

I understand your sentiment about realty special old books - very nostalgic. Also, John Cunningham died this week which made me sad and loved remembering his illustrations of Mr Gumpy’s Outing: that was an favourite too.