The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame and first published in 1908, is one of the most popular books ever written. Almost 100 years on it is still enjoyed by children and adults alike. In that period over 90 different artists have produced illustrated versions and numerous writers have attempted to abridge the text to make it more accessible for younger children.
Every household should have a copy or two, and the story also makes a great gift for a young child or a friend. Some enthusiasts have even started to collect the different illustrated versions. But with so many different versions around, the problems are in knowing which to buy and similarly, here on ebay, which version the seller is actually selling. This guide attempts to classify many of the more popular versions, particularly the illustrated versions, and to give more information on those versions so that the buyer can make a clearer decision on the best purchases.
Sellers of illustrated books like The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, etc, should always name the illustrator. Unfortunately this is rarely done. I have frequently had to email sellers to ask who the illustrator was. In fairness, thought, I should add that I’ve always received a prompt and helpful reply. The key pieces of information, I find, are illustrator, condition, publication year and ISBN. A search on the ISBN can help determine a lot of further detail on the book too. But be prepared to email those questions in many cases. This guide cannot entirely substitute for getting the some specific details for the seller.
The illustrated editions are listed in four groupings below. The first group covers the editions from 1908-1982. The book was still under copyright in this period - until October 1983, in fact - and any illustrated version needed to be officially commissioned or approved by the copyright holders. The second group covers full-text versions from the period from 1983 up until the present day. The third group covers abridged editions from the same period. The fourth group covers picture book editions, also from the same period. Picture book editions are considered to be those versions which are extensively abridged to suit very young readers, and in most cases they may have as much, or more, space devoted to illustrations as to text.
The list below is by no means complete and there are various reprints and formats associated with some illustrators but, hopefully, it will go some way towards helping the buyer identify which are abridged versions, which are extensively illustrated, which are small books, which have few pages, etc.
1. Illustrated Editions from 1908-1982
- 1913 Paul Bransom (Longmeadow Press 1987, 351pp, 240mm x 200mm, 8 col plates, ISBN 0681400579 (Reprint))
- 1922 Nancy Barnhart (Charles Schribner's Sons 1922, 351pp, 205mm x 160mm, 8 col plates + 4 b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1927 Wyndham Payne (Methuen & Co Ltd. 1927, 247pp, 195mm x 150mm, 20 x 3-col illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1931 Ernest Shepard (Charles Schribner's Sons 1983, 244pp, 195mm x 160mm, 8 col plates + 100 b&w illus, ISBN 0684179571 (Reprint))
- 1940 Arthur Rackham (Methuen Children's Books 1951, 178pp, 240mm x 160mm, 12 col plates, ISBN 0416532608 (Reprint))
- 1946 Paul Henning (Methuen & Co 1946, 2 books - 32pp & 34pp 215mm x 140mm, 15 col photos in each book, ISBN Unknown) (Abridged)
- 1966 Roberta Carter Clark (Grosset & Dunlap 1966, 254pp, 195mm x 130mm, 11 b&W illus, ISBN 0448054817)
- 1966 Dick Cuffari (Grosset & Dunlap 1966, 220pp, 240mm x 170mm, 5 col plates + 40 b&w illus, ISBN 0448060280)
- 1966 Tasha Tudor (Collins World 1966, 222pp, 215mm x 145mm, 16 col plates, ISBN Unknown)
- 1968 David Stone (Golden Press 1968, 237pp, 215mm x 145mm, 6 col plates + 9 x 3-col illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1969 Alex Tsao (New American Library Inc 1969, 218pp, 185mm x 115mm, 58 b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1980 Michael Hague (Ariel Books 1980, 208pp, 260mm x 210mm, 70 col illus, ISBN Unknown)
2. Unabridged Illustrated Editions from 1983 onwards
- 1983 John Burningham (Penguin Books 1983, 240pp, 240mm x 165mm, 12 col plates + 75 b&w illus, ISBN 0722657463)
- 1983 Cosgrove Hall (Book Club Associates 1983, 224pp, 255mm x 195mm, 13 col plates + 28 small illus, mostly b&w, ISBN Unknown)
- 1983 Harry Hargreaves (Diamond Books/Armada 1983, 249pp, 180mm x 115mm, 110 b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1983 Pixie O'Harris (Rigby Publishers 1983, 180pp, 250mm x 190mm, 56 col + 40 b&w illus, ISBN 072701854X)
- 1984 Jonathan Langley (Octopus Books/Cathay Books 1984, 191pp, 235mm x 170mm, 14 col plates, ISBN 0861784219)
- 1988 Justin Todd (Guild Publishing 1988, 185pp, 250mm x 200mm, 22 col plates, ISBN Unknown)
- 1989 Steve Smallman (Scholastic Publications Ltd 1989, 208pp, 180mm x 110mm, 34 b&w illus, ISBN 0590761501)
- 1991 Graham Percy (Pavilion Books 1991, 192pp, 250mm x 200mm, 24 col plates + 7 b&w illus, ISBN 1851456031)
- 1992 Martin Baynton (Walker Books Ltd 1992, 239pp, 200mm x 130mm, 71 b&w illus, ISBN 0744526183)
- 1993 Paul Cox (Reader's Digest 1993, 190pp, 235mm x 160mm, 11 col plates + several small b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1993 Lindsay Duff (Tiger Books International 1993, 192pp, 250mm x 200mm, 10 col plates, ISBN 1855014068)
- 1994 Patrick Benson (Harper Collins Publishers 1994, 272pp, 240mm x 165mm, 80 b&w illus, ISBN 000224537X)
- 1994 Robin Lawrie (Puffin Books 1994, 242pp, 200mm x 130mm, 12 b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 1995 James Lynch (The Folio Society 1995, 206pp, 250mm x 180mm, 8 col plates, ISBN Unknown)
- 2000 Joanne Moss (Breslich and Foss 2000, 192pp, 250mm x 190mm, 28 col + 12 b&w illus, ISBN 1850040516)
- 2000 Helen Ward (Borders Press 2000, 195pp, 220mm x 155mm, 19 col plates, ISBN 1840110198)
- 2001 Michael Foreman (Chrysalis Children's Books 2001, 231pp, 220mm x 265mm, 65 col illus, ISBN 1844583775)
- 2002 Mary Jane Begin (SeaStar Books 2002, 196pp, 285mm x 225mm, 12 col plates + several other small, col illus, ISBN 1587172046)
- 2005 Sibylle Delacroix (Paperview 2005, 188pp, 215mm x 125mm, 12 small b&w illus, ISBN 2874270792)
- 2005 Charles van Sandwyk (The Folio Society 2005, 252pp, 255mm x 175mm, 34 col + 46 b&w illus, ISBN Unknown)
- 2007 Robert Ingpen (Templar Publishing 2007, 224pp, 240mm x 205mm, 128 col illus, ISBN 9781840113525)
3. Abridged Illustrated Editions from 1983 onwards
- 1983 John Worsley (Victoria House Publishing 1982, 159pp, 265mm x 210mm, 128 col illus, ISBN 0361055013)
- 1986 Eric Kincaid (Brimax Books Ltd 1986, 156pp, 275mm x 225mm, 157 col illus, ISBN 0861123549)
- 1994 Lorna Tomei (Baronet Books 1994, 240pp, 205mm x 145mm, 188 full-page, b&w illus, ISBN 0866119906)
- 1996 Inga Moore (Walker Books 2000, 182pp, 290mm x 220mm, 140 col illus, ISBN 0744575532)
4. Picture Book Editions from 1983 onwards
- 1983 Martin Aitchison (Ladybird Books 1983, 51pp, 180mm x 120mm, 46 col illus, ISBN 0721407579)
- 1983 Val Biro (Purnell Publishers Ltd 1983, 74pp, 290mm x 220mm, 50 col illus, ISBN 0361060084)
- 1985 Rene Cloke (Award Publications Ltd 1985, 94pp, 290mm x 225mm, 108 col illus, ISBN 0861638212)
- 1985 Gary Woodley (World International Publishing Ltd 1985, 68pp, 310mm x 230mm, 72 col illus, ISBN 0723570876)
- 1993 Holly Hannon (Ottenheimer Publishers Inc 1994, 4 books - each 16pp, 300mm x 235mm, 12 col illus in each book, ISBN 1841000477)
- 1995 Graham Philpot (David Bennett Books 1995, 6 books - each 28pp, 110mm x 90mm, 12 col illus in each book, 1856020339 1856020312 1856020355 1856020320
- 1996 Arkadia (Buzz Books 1996, 4 books - each 24pp, 180mm x 120mm, 16 col illus in each book, 1855915529 1855915537 1855915545 1855915553)
- 1997 Ken McKie (Grandreams Ltd 1997, 4 books - each 21pp, 210mm x 150mm, 24 col illus in each book, ISBN 185830122X)
- 1997 John Patience (Peter Haddock Ltd 1997, 4 books - 10 pages, 190mm x 140mm, 5 col illus in each book, ISBN 0710509189)
- 1998 Maggie Downer (Parragon 1998, 270pp, 145mm x 115mm, 96 col illus, ISBN 0752525964)
- 2000 Patricia Ludlow (Brown Watson 2000, 32pp, 310mm x 240mm, 29 col illus, ISBN 0709713509)
A few general guidelines can be offered.
First editions are very valuable and this is really a different level of collecting from our focus in this guide. A first edition from 1908 is worth several thousand pounds. First editions of the early illustrated versions are also valuable – Bransom, Payne, Barnhart, Shepard and Rackham first editions being worth several hundred pounds in some cases if the condition of the book is outstanding. But the difference between first and other editions – even second editions – is enormous. Buyers should be very wary of advertisements claiming that a particular book is a valuable, rare, third edition, sixth edition or whatever. There is an abundance of copies for just about every edition of The Wind in the Willows and anything other than a first edition is not really worth very much. It certainly shouldn’t be viewed as any sort of an investment. It may be, but the odds are stacked against it.
If you’re interested in an illustrated edition, then try to find a hardback rather than a paperback. Many cheap paperbacks not only have inferior covers but also have inferior paper. Fine line drawings aren’t reproduced very well. This applies particularly to Shepard and Benson illustrated editions. One paperback well worth buying as a reading copy, however, is the text-only version by Oxford World Classics which includes a short biography of Kenneth Grahame and a good bibliography listing written by Peter Green – ISBN 0192835157.
It is often a good idea to check the new prices of books before committing to purchase a second hand copy. With prices of some of the best illustrated editions by Moore, Kincaid, Shepard, Rackham, Benson, Ingpen, Hague and others having fallen to below £10 new, unless you’re a collector or have some other reason for paying more for a specific copy, there seems to be little reason to pay more than a few pounds for a second hand illustrated edition even it is in excellent condition.
If you're buying a copy of The Wind in the Willows as a present for someone else I would recommend a full-text version for an adult or for children over ten, an abridged version for children from seven to ten and an extensively abridged/picture book version for children up to six years. This is a very subjective rule of thumb and the suggested age ranges could very or overlap.
There are numerous other books which are beyond the scope of this guide – Kenneth Grahame’s other works, biographies, sequels, film adaptations, and so forth. If feedback on this guide indicates that it has been useful I might write a second with a title something like “Kenneth Grahame – Other Works”. In the meantime feel free to contact me via my ebay contact details if you have questions on those other books. I’ll be happy to help if I can.
Kenneth Grahame Society