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BLUE PLAQUE: Village was home to The Wind in the Willows writer
RATTY, Mole and Toad would have been proud to see the latest blue plaque go up in Oxfordshire.
It commemorates The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame and was unveiled in Blewbury last week.
The writer, who attended St Edward’s School in Woodstock Road, Oxford, lived in the village near Didcot from 1910 to 1920.
Resident Pat Mattimore said: “We all knew Kenneth Grahame lived here in Blewbury so we thought it would be nice to recognise that. We are very pleased and proud to have it.
“The Wind in the Willows was first published more than 100 years ago, but still the majority of people have read it or know the story.”
Mr Grahame was a pupil at St Edward’s School from the age of nine after his mother died of scarlet fever.
By the time he left, he was head boy, captain of the rugby XV and the winner of several academic prizes.
He began working as a banker and rose to become company secretary at the Bank of England, working on ideas for a book from the bedtime stories he told his son Alistair.
The Wind in the Willows was published in 1908. It tells the story of four animals living on a stretch of the Thames at Pangbourne, near Reading.
Mrs Mattimore said: “This book is one you read as a child and possibly don’t get too much out of it.
“But then you start to understand the story and the beautiful language when you reread it to your own children.”
The plaque was unveiled on Boham’s House, Westbrook Street, where Mr Grahame lived with his family. Alistair, his only son, was found dead on the railway line at Oxford while a student at Christ Church in 1920. Mr Grahame died in 1932.
A street in Blewbury, Grahame Close, is named in his honour and often referred to as the “Wind in the Willows estate”.
Mrs Mattimore said: “It is a nice English story and something a lot of people here like to remember.”
Children from Blewbury Primary School attended the unveiling of the blue plaque and listened to speeches about the author.
Judith Morgan, seven, read out a passage from the book. She said: “I like The Wind in the Willows because it could be Blewbury or near the Thames and I love the pictures.”
Becky Brown, also seven, added: “It’s exciting and I want to know what happens next.”