Kenneth Grahame was a Scottish writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films.
Grahame wanted to attend Oxford University, but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of Englandin 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health, which may have been precipitated by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank in 1903. Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed. An alternative explanation, given in a letter on display in the Bank museum, is that he had quarrelled with Walter Cunliffe, one of the bank's directors, who would later become Governor of the Bank of England, in the course of which he was heard to say that Cunliffe was "no gentleman", and that his retirement was enforced ostensibly on health grounds. He was awarded an annual pension of £400 but a worked example on display indicates he was actually due £710.
Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899; they had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was "Mouse") born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life. On Grahame's retirement, they returned to Cookham where he had lived as a child, and lived at "Mayfield", now Herries Preparatory School, where he turned the bedtime stories he told Alastair into his masterpiece. Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May 1920. Out of respect for Kenneth Grahame, Alastair's demise was recorded as an accidental death.