In this book of reminiscences by Kenneth Grahame, the much loved creator of Winnie The Pooh, readers are granted an insight into the writer’s childhood.
The opening lines of the Prologue provide a poignant reminder of Grahame’s childhood.
When he was just five, his mother died in childbirth and his father who had a long standing problem with alcoholism consigned his four children, including the newborn baby, to the care of their grandmother in Berkshire.
The rambling old house was a treasure trove of passages and attics, filled with old things and provided the children with plenty of excitement.
Their uncle who was a member of the clergy in a neighboring village, often came to take them boating and walking in the nearby woods.
These are the memories that are so charmingly captured in Grahame’s books. Though he was a brilliant pupil, financial issues did not allow him to pursue further education at college. Instead, he went to work in a bank.
His writing career began relatively early on, with the publication of short stories in various magazines when he was just 20 years old.
However, it was in 1908, when he was more than 40 that The Wind in The Willows was published, which was received with great admiration and enjoyment by both adults and children.
The Golden Age was published in 1895. Some of the stories in it had already appeared in various magazines. It was greeted by poets like Swinburne with much praise and almost instantly regarded as a classic.
What’s interesting about The Golden Age is that in this book, Grahame uses the metaphor of Ancient Greek legends and stories as parallels to his own life. The adults are termed
The Olympians appearing remote, inaccessible and lofty to a child.
Their activities are incomprehensible to the young mind while they had no interest in the doings of their wards. Grahame’s humorous yet ironical tone lends a touch of fun to the adult world as seen through the eyes of a child
. Other chapters describe the fun of being outdoors, visitors and relatives who come to the house, childhood games of Roundheads and Royalists, King Arthur’s Knights, bandits and damsels in distress, knights errant, soldiers and princesses and everything else that a group of high spirited children could devise out of their boundless imaginations.
Youthful escapades, stolen fruit, daredevil stunts and the carefree days of childhood are vividly captured in The Golden Age.
For modern day readers, these recollections are interesting and in almost complete contrast to children’s lives today, yet the book is an amusing and easy read for all ages.