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David Gooderson: Playwright, Actor
Drama Tutor

The Killing of Mr Toad

The extraordinary true story behind The Wind in the Willows

About the Stage Play


The Killing of Mr Toad re-visits Kenneth Grahame's timeless classic, The Wind in the Willows and tells the powerful and moving story behind it.

Toad of Toad Hall (©)

Leaflet for the play (PDF, 140 kB)

(Image copyright: rest mouse over image)

1934. Elspeth Grahame, elderly widow of Kenneth Grahame, lives alone, rarely washing, barely eating. When she receives flowers from a young fan of The Wind in the Willows, memories flood in and the familiar characters of Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole appear – to perform a musical entertainment in honour of their creator, laying bare the tragicomedy of their real-life counterparts: the shy, retiring Kenneth Grahame, who was both Secretary of the Bank of England and a successful author; Elspeth, an eccentric socialite; and their bumptious only son, Alastair – who became the prototype for Toad.

This rich and unusual play begins as a celebration of a famous book, but becomes a hard-hitting story of a dysfunctional family, unrealistic parental ambitions and teenage breakdown – as the author who delighted so many children is unable to save his own son.


A sad delight… I enjoyed every minute of it.

Robert Hewison, The Sunday Times


Alan Bennett, in his collection of prose writings, Writing Home

A wonderful theatrical experience. At times extremely funny, and others deeply touching, it achieves exactly the right balance of humour and tragedy

Helen Macdonald, whatsonstage


The play was first produced at Salisbury Playhouse in 1982 and at the King's Head Theatre, London in 1983, and was subsequently adapted for BBC Radio 4 (acclaimed by The Daily Telegraph).

The most recent production, directed by David, was at the Finborough Theatre, London in early summer 2009. For the cast list, more reviews of the play, and other details, go to the finboroughtheatre's production of The Killing of Mr Toad.

Play Script

The play script of the stage play was published by the Finborough Theatre in 2009 (Finborough Theatre play scripts)(Copies available via David's e-mail link, right).


The Killing of Mr Toad was written by David Gooderson.

Finborough Theatre Production

Actors Leo Conville (Toad), Jeffrey Perry (Mole), Timothy Davies (Badger) in David Gooderson's play 'The Killing of Mr. Toad'. Photo: Ruth Hall Actor Leo Conville (Toad in David Gooderson's play 'The Killing of Mr. Toad'). Photo: Ruth Hall Actress Elizabeth Counsell (Elspeth Grahame in David Gooderson's play 'The Killing of Mr. Toad'). Photo: Ruth Hall

For credits, rest mouse over image

Performing Rights

For all enquiries about performing rights, whether professional or amateur, contact David’s Literary Agent:

Mike Sharland at The Sharland Organisation via…

No public performance of this play can be given unless a licence is obtained before rehearsals begin.

To Contact David