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DateLecture
21 January 2020The Wind in the Willows REVISITED through its illustrators
18 February 2020Royal Jewels and the American Heiress
17 March 2020The Georgian House around the world
21 April 2020Marathon! The battle that "decided the future of human civilisation"
19 May 2020"So they do cook after all!" Ravilious, Bawden and the Great Bardfield artists
16 June 2020A Highland Thing? 18th - 20th Century Scottish Art

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The Wind in the Willows REVISITED through its illustrators John Ericson Tuesday 21 January 2020

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.

‘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 Ericson 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 NADFAS circuit for a number of years. In his professional life he has developed a particular interest in presentation skills including the role of pictures in learning and the appropriate use of PowerPoint. This coupled with his ability to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds makes him an impressive and confident public speaker. 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. All his talks, are entertaining, highly informative, very well illustrated and presented with warmth and humour.