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Head of Zeus
Eternal Boy
08 Aug 2019 * PAPERBACK * £8.99 * 9781786697745

The story of Kenneth Grahame, author of the children's classic Wind in the Willows, and of the vision of English pastoral that inspired it.

Non Fiction / BGL (Biography)
Extent: 304 pages
Format: 198 x 129 mm
Illustrations: 1 x 8pp colour
Exclusive sale: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG
Not for sale: CA US
Eternal Boy: The Life of Kenneth GrahameMatthew Dennison


'Matthew Dennison skilfully covers the facts, producing a vivid impression of this strange, shy, awkward figure. The result is a highly readable book' Literary Review.
'A haunting new biography ... A compelling account of Grahame's life' Daily Mail.
'A sensitively probing and nuanced portrait that makes sense of the darker character furled in the dreamer' New Statesman.

During the week Kenneth Grahame sat behind a mahogany desk as Secretary of the Bank of England; at the weekend he retired to the house in the country he shared with his fanciful wife Elspeth and fragile son Alistair and took lengthy walks along the Thames in Berkshire, 'tempted [by] the treasures of hedge and ditch; the rapt surprise of the first lords-and-ladies, the rustle of a field-mouse, the splash of a frog.'

The result of these pastoral wanderings was The Wind in the Willows: an enduring classic of children's literature; a cautionary tale for adult readers; a warning of the fragility of the English countryside; and an expression of fear at threatened social changes that, in the aftermath of the World War I, became reality. Like its remarkable author, it balances maverick tendencies with conservatism. Grahame was an Edwardian pantheist whose work has a timeless appeal, an escapist whose withdrawal from reality took the form of time travel into his own past.

Matthew Dennison is the author of seven critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West, a Book of the Year in The Times, Spectator, Independent and Observer. His most recent book is the much-praised Eternal Boy, a life of Kenneth Grahame.

Wind in the Willows is a classic of children's literature: dramatized by A A Milne, animated by Disney, filmed by Terry Jones.

Evokes a lost world of Edwardian rural escapism.

Includes E.H. Shepard's much-loved illustrations.

MARKET: Claire Tomalin; Jenny Uglow.

'[Dennison] skilfully covers the facts, producing a vivid impression of this strange, shy, awkward figure. The result is a highly readable book', Literary Review

'Heartbreaking biography', The Times

'Drawing on telling quotes from Grahame's works, Dennison's book more than meets the challenge of a walled-off man. The result is a sensitively probing and nuanced portrait that makes sense of the darker character furled in the dreamer', New Statesman

'Eternal Boy tells me much I didn't know. It is a very deftly written biography, snappy, thorough and to the point', Mail on Sunday

'A haunting new biography ... Compelling', Daily Mail

'Dennison, in this finely written book with its sometimes bejewelled vocabulary [...] has dug deep into some of the complex truths that underpin The Wind in the Willows and give it its layers of resonance', Simon Callow, Sunday Times

'Fine new biography ... Dennison also writes with atmospheric detail', Herald

'Dennison, who has been lauded for his biographies of Vita Sackville-West and Beatrix Potter, maps the life of The Wind in the Willows author', This is England

'A halcyon imagining on the part of a man trapped within a loveless marriage and desk-bound as a senior official at the Bank of England: a gorgeous template for a life he was unable to lead', The Daily Telegraph

'Dennison's sensitive, but astute new biography transforms the facts of Grahame's life – some that are well known, others fresh – into eloquent truths about a man who refused to grow up', Country Life

"Poor Kenneth Grahame," you'll sigh at the end of this biography of the author of The Wind in the Willows', TLS

'By keeping tightly focused on Grahame, Dennison has produced a book that is brief, brisk and very readable', Spectator

'Dennison analysed [The Wind in the Willows] as autobiography, a reworking of the Odyssey, lyric, nostalgic and aggressively conservative', Daily Telegraph

'Grahame's adoration of Nature and landscape was a personal creed that made him passionate about conservation, says his biographer Matthew Dennison', Country Life

'Matthew Dennison's excellent biography is nicely titled. His convincing perception of Grahame is that of a man who never really grew up', Tablet

'Dennison's short, gripping and consistently surprising biography of Kenneth Grahame ably explains how a stuffy bank clerk produced arguably the greatest children's book ever written, The Wind in the Willows', Observer

'The touching story of The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame', Choice, December Round Up

'Briskly paced and deftly crafted, studded with both finely turned phrases and sharply pointed judgements. As a biography, it elegantly avoids both hagiography and hatchet-job ... For a century, Kenneth Grahame has had acolytes aplenty; Dennison's cool-eyed scepticism needs to be heard', The Arts Desk

'[A] fine biography ... Eternal Boy relates this unhappy story movingly and carefully', Financial Times

'An illuminating biography', Countryman

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