The Wind in the Willows
is a classic of children's literature written in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame .
The story is alternately slow-moving and fast-paced, focusing on four heavily anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England . The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.
The book made Grahame's fortune, enabling him to retire from his hated (though respectable and well-paid) bank job and move to the country. He spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do; namely (in one of the most famous phrases from the book) 'simply messing about in boats'.
The book was written in an era of similar Victorian literature that, while technically considered "children's literature," had a largely adult readership.
It can also be viewed as a commentary on class dynamics in British society. In general, the "River-Bankers" represent the upper classes, and the "Wild Wooders" represent the lower. More specifically, the character of Toad represents the upper class, Rat and Badger represent the middle classes, with Badger leaning closer to upper class, and the character Mole represents the lower class, due to his earthy nature.