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Mr. Toad is a famous character from the 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. He is one of the more notable characters from 20th century children's literature, and many people who have never actually read the book are familiar with Mr. Toad, thanks to his appearances in several films inspired by the book, along with a ride at Disneyland. This character is a bit impractical, selfish, and roguish, but he is also gentle, with a genuinely kind heart which has endeared him to generations of readers.
As you might imagine, Mr. Toad is a toad. All of the characters in The Wind in the Willows are anthropomorphized animals, and the book follows their adventures with each other and in the landscape of the River Thames, where Grahame happened to live himself. At first, the book met with a fairly unremarkable reaction from the public, but it grew on people, quickly becoming a children's classic and making Grahame's fortune, later being adapted into a play by A.A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh books.
Mr. Toad is extremely wealthy, being the owner of Toad Hall, which is described as a rather opulent dwelling. The character exhibits many stereotypically quirky traits often attributed to the wealthy, such as a passion for foppish pursuits like punting, adventuring on hot air balloons, and traveling on house boats. Mr. Toad also has a penchant for classy suits, and while he is a nice character, he is also a bit selfish and thoughtless, picking up various hobbies and then abandoning them as he loses interest.
His thoughtlessness is exemplified by his theft of an automobile, which he subsequently crashes. Mr. Toad is sent to prison for his crime, and forced to dress up as a washerwoman to escape, only to return and find his home occupied by the weasels. In the end of the book, Mr. Toad redeems himself, making good with his friends and compensating the people injured by the wake of havoc he leaves behind in the bulk of the book.
Mr. Toad was so well known and liked that he inspired a ride in the original Walt Disney World theme park, which opened in 1955. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was extremely popular with many generations of park goers, transporting passengers into the depths of the wild world of Grahame's novels. In 1998, the ride was closed and replaced with another, much to the disappointment of fans.