The next best thing to being there

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 11:03 AM

In the spring of 1907 Kenneth Grahame sent his seven-year old son, Alastair (nicknamed 'Mouse'), the first of a series of letters telling the story of a group of animals and their various adventures along the river, in the woods and on the road. These letters, centering on the swaggering Mr. Toad, formed the first whisperings of what would become one of the best-loved children's stories of all time: The Wind in the Willows. (

Tomorrow, to celebrate World Book Day, Oxford University's Bodleian Library will display these original letters as well as manuscripts and special illustrated editions of this children's classic.

If you happen to be near the Oxford area, you'll be able to view these precious artifacts in person. And while young children from local schools listen to readings from the book in a specially decorated corner of the library's Divinity School, people around the world can explore Grahame's classic tale online through Google Book Search (we have the original 1908 edition digitized as well as multiple in-print versions). You can even take a virtual tour of the Bodleian's exhibit, as the library has made images of the original letters and manuscripts available online. Near or far from Oxford, you'll be able to enjoy The Wind in the Willows and explore the rich history of a story that has delighted readers for a hundred years.


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