xxxxxRudyard Kipling was born in India and educated in England. He returned to India at the age of 16 and worked as a journalist, and it was then that he showed an exceptional talent as a short-
RUDYARD KIPLING 1865 -
Kipling: detail, by the English artist John Collier (1850-
xxxxxThe British author and poet Rudyard Kipling is especially remembered today for his wealth of children’s stories and tales of adventure, many based on his life in India. These, together with a number of memorable poems made his works extremely popular in the 1890s and the early part of the 20th century. An imaginative writer with an extraordinary gift of narrative, he became a literary legend in his own lifetime. However, as a staunch believer in the merits of British imperialism, many of his works came to be regarded as jingoistic and racist by the 1920s, and he lost favour as a consequence. Nevertheless many of his children’s stories and a large number of his tales of adventure have retained their appeal to this day. Amongst his best known works are his two Jungle Books (written for children), his novel The Light That Failed, and his poems If, Mandalay and Gunga Din.
xxxxxKipling was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in British India, where his father Lockwood Kipling, a sculptor and pottery designer, was principal of the city’s School of Art and Industry. After five years spent in this bustling city, during which he developed a love for all things Indian, he was sent to England to be educated. As a sensitive, short-
xxxxxFor the next seven years Kipling worked as a journalist, first on the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore (his “true love”) and then, from November 1887, on its sister paper The Pioneer in Allahabad. It was during this time that he began to show his exceptional talent as a writer of short stories. The first of these appeared under the title Plain Tales from The Hills in 1888, and over the next two years this collection was followed by six others, including Soldiers Three, The Phantom Rickshaw (containing the story The Man Who Would Be King) and Wee Willie Winki. Inspired by his love of the land and people of native India, and skilfully written, these tales -
xxxxxIn March 1889 he left for England, and, after six months of hectic sight seeing -
xxxxxIn January 1892 Kipling married an American, Caroline Starr Balestier, (the writer Henry James gave the bride away) and this brought an end to his stay in London. The couple moved to the United States, and made their first home in Bliss Cottage, near Brattleboro, Vermont. They were to live in America for the next four years and it was during this period that he turned his talent to the writing of children’s stories. His two Jungle Books, first published in 1894, were a collection of well-
xxxxxThe Kiplings returned to England in July 1896, and the following year, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, he composed and published Recessional, a poem which took pride in the British Empire but feared its inevitable downfall. Then early in 1898 Kipling and his family went on a holiday to South Africa, and this proved to be the first of many yearly visits. Now regarded as “the poet of the Empire” he was welcomed and entertained by the leading politicians of Cape Colony, and became a close friend of both the statesman Cecil Rhodes and his ardent supporter Leander Starr Jameson. On his return to England he wrote poetry in support of the British during the Second Anglo-
xxxxxThis charge of “cultural imperialism” -
xxxxxThe following year Kipling bought Bateman’s, a 17th century house near Burwash, Sussex, and this was to be his home until his death in 1936. It was here that he wrote his Just So Stories, a selection of adventures for children, and produced Puck of Pook’s Hill and its sequence Rewards and Fairies, a series of historic cameos, mostly dealing with events from English history. The last named contained his famous poem If , and was followed by a selection of verse, The Five Nations, in 1903. The following year saw the publication of Traffics and Discoveries, a series of stories dealing with war and colonialism.
xxxxxIn 1907, at the height of his career, Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Described as the greatest genius in the realm of narrative that England had produced in recent times, the citation refers to his powers of observation, his originality and imagination, his virility of ideas, and his remarkable talent for narrative. It was a fitting reward for a storyteller of such rare talent, particularly in the realm of child fiction. He declined a knighthood on several occasions during his career, but received other honours, including the gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature, and an associate membership of the French Academy of Science and Politics. Throughout his works two themes remained dominant: his intense patriotism and his staunch belief in Britain’s imperial role. And alongside these themes went a pride in personal honour, dedication and self-
xxxxxKipling’s later collections, such as Actions and Reactions (1909), A Diversity of Creatures (1917), Debits and Credits (1926), and Limits and Renewals (1932), covered a much wider range of topics and, in general, were more serious in content and tone. As such they did not prove so successful. His later travels, notably to Australia, New Zealand and Egypt, were described in his Letters of Travel, published in 1920. Having earlier written articles warning of the rise of German naval power (The Fleet in Being of 1898), during the First World War he produced The Fringes of the Fleet, a collection of stories and poems on naval themes. (Some of the poems were set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar.) His autobiography, Something of Myself, was never finished, and was published in the year after his death.
xxxxxKipling died in London in January 1936. After cremation at Golders Green Crematorium his ashes were buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
xxxxxIncidentally, Kipling’s parents, Lockwood and Alice, became engaged while walking alongside Lake Rudyard, a few miles north of Stoke on Trent. When their son was born in India a few years later he was named Rudyard in memory of that special day. ……
xxxxx……xxKipling’s mother Alice was one of the four remarkable MacDonald sisters. Georgiana married the Pre-
xxxxx……xxKipling was a life-
xxxxx…… Also among Kipling’s friends was the founder of the Boy Scout Movement Robert Baden Powell. In 1916 he received permission from Kipling to use the names of the characters in the Jungle Book stories and Kim when setting up the Wolf Cubs, a junior section for youngsters under the age of eleven. The adult leaders of the Cub packs took on the name of the various animals, and the leader became known as Akela after the gray Lone Wolf, the wise leader of the pack in the stories. These names are still used today in many packs across the world.
xxxxx…… The covers of Kipling’s early works were marked with the sun symbol known as the swastika. Derived from Sanskrit, an Indo-
xxxxx…… During the First World War Kipling lost his only son John at the Battle of Loos in 1915, and this inspired his poem My Boy Jack. He felt much guilt over this tragic loss because he had been instrumental in procuring his son’s commission in The Irish Guards despite being rejected earlier for his poor eyesight. It was partly because of his son’s death that he began to support the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission and, via this organisation, came to know King George V. In 1923 Kipling wrote about his son’s regiment in his two-
xxxxx…… Extracts from two of Kipling’s most
Andrew Lang and
Georges du Maurier
xxxxxLike Rudyard Kipling, the English-
xxxxxWorthy of mention here is the English-
xxxxxThese works proved popular, but her fame today rests on her child fiction, beginning with the highly successful Little Lord Fauntleroy, starting in serial form but published as a book in 1886. This won her overnight fame and fortune. An engaging rags-
xxxxxBurnett enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, and during her career became a well-
xxxxxIncidentally, she visited Boston in 1879 and met the two prominent American writers of children’s stories at that time: Louisa May Alcott -
xxxxxAlso belonging to this period was a vast series of folk and fairy tales, collected and published by the Scottish poet and novelist Andrew Lang (1844-
xxxxxA graduate of St. Andrew’s University and Balliol College, Oxford, he wrote on a variety of subjects, and had a special interest in folklore and mystery. Earlier works in this genre included Custom and Myth of 1884 and Myth, Ritual and Religion, published three years later. He was one of the founders of “Psychical Research” -
xxxxxIncidentally, thexxJewish historian Joseph Jacobs (1854-
xxxxxAndxit was in this year, 1894, that the French-
xxxxxDu Maurier, a close friend of the American novelist Henry James, studied art in Paris before coming to London. He married an English woman, Emma Wightwick, in 1863 and two years later joined the staff of the satirical magazine Punch as a cartoonist. Over the next thirty years he gained a reputation for his amusing cartoons. His True Humility, featuring a bishop and a curate, coined the phrase “a curate’s egg” (good in parts), and his satires on the medical profession produced the expression “bedside manner”.
xxxxxIncidentally, Du Maurier was the grandfather of the famous English writer Daphne du Maurier (1907-