My father was an intellectually austere Cambridge academic, so we never had a copy of The Wind in the Willows in the house. No talking toads on this family syllabus, thank you! But Kenneth Grahame did feature on our bookshelves in the shape of two late Victorian bestsellers which would otherwise have escaped my notice, as they have done most readers’ of late: The Golden Age (1895) and Dream Days (1898). Neither was turned into a play by A. A. Milne or Alan Bennett, or filmed by Terry Jones. Yet without them there would have been no Toad Hall, no ‘poop-pooping’ motor cars, no escapes from prison and no epic battle with the stoats and weasels.