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DateLecture
14 May 2019The Wind in the Willows Revisited through its Illustrators
11 June 2019Dreamtime to Machine Time - Aboriginal Art
09 July 2019Historic Gardens of the Italian Lakes
08 October 2019Raphael: A Master in the Making
12 November 2019Gardens of Earthly Delight: Nature, Flora and Architecture in Art
10 December 2019Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - Why these gifts?
14 January 2020A Decorative Art: The History of Wallpaper
11 February 2020The Empty Chair in Art: From Van Gogh to Ai Weiwei
10 March 2020A Concise History of our Great British Public Parks
14 April 2020Islamic Art: Exploring the Decorative Arts of the Islamic World
12 May 2020An Easy Day for a Lady: The Dress of Early Women Mountaineers 1850-1914
09 June 2020'Debo' - Mitford, Cavendish, Devonshire, Duchess and Housewife 1920-2014
14 July 2020Signs, Signals and Iconography: The Hidden Stories in Art

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The Wind in the Willows Revisited through its Illustrators John Ericson Tuesday 14 May 2019

The beauty of Kenneth Grahame’s prose is widely acknowledged but the story is so full of wonderful imagery that it almost demands to be illustrated. First published in 1908 without illustration, the classic tale of Ratty, Mole, and the incorrigible Mr Toad has been in print ever since. What is less well known is that it has been illustrated by more than ninety artists – making it the most widely illustrated book in the English language.

However, ‘Willows’ is a far more interesting book than its popular and often young audience might appreciate. It deserves recognition as a novel in which adult readers will find not just humour and entertainment but wisdom and meaning. In this engaging presentation we will revisit the story as depicted by numerous well known illustrators such as E H Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Robert Ingpen, Val Biro and Inga Moore. Where appropriate we will compare and contrast the same scene in the book through the eyes of different artists, a study known as ‘comparative illustration'.

We will also explore how the story came to be written for Grahame’s son Alastair and the interesting but ultimately tragic life of Kenneth Grahame.


John was formerly a lecturer at the University of Bath, where he was Director of Studies in the School of Education with responsibility for the professional development of teachers. He has worked extensively overseas as an educational consultant and this has given him the opportunity to give lectures and presentations at conferences all over the world. In 2008 and again in 2011 he undertook extensive lecture tours of Australia and he has been a popular speaker on The Arts Society's circuit for a number of years.

As well as the talks he has developed from his professional background, he offers presentations on an eclectic range of topics that are derived from his diverse interests and enthusiasms such as, pub signs, children’s book illustrations and the Shakers of North America.