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-story writer. Collections such as Plain Tales from the Hills, Soldiers Three and The Phantom Rickshaw, inspired by his love of India and its people, established his literary reputation. He returned to England in 1889 and produced his first novel The Light that Failed the following year and, in 1892, his first set of Barrack Room Ballads. This was a collection of poems about the life of the ordinary British soldier, told in common parlance, and including his famous works Mandalay and Gunga Din. In that same year he married an American and went to live in Vermont. It was here that he turned his hand to writing children’s stories, and had phenomenal success with his two Jungle Books, the first in 1894. These sets of highly imaginative fables were followed by the adventure story Captain Courageous, some short stories under the title The Day’s Work and a series of poems named The Seven Seas. On his return to England in 1896, however, his reputation suffered a setback. After a brief visit to South Africa, where he was well received, he returned to produce his controversial The White Man’s Burden. This poem, written in favour of British imperialism, was seen in liberal quarters as both racist and jingoistic, accusations which stayed with him for the rest of his career. However, his adventure story Kim, published in 1901, proved a success, as did his works for children, his Just So Stories, Puck of Pook’s Hill (containing his famous poem If) and Rewards and Fairies. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his powers of observation, his originality and imagination, his virility of ideas and his remarkable talent for narrative. He continued to write up to the 1930s, but his later works, more serious in tone, never enjoyed the same measure of success. He numbered among his friends the English writer Rider Haggard, the South African statesmen Cecil Rhodes and Leander Jameson, the Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, who used the characters in Kipling’s Jungle Books when forming the Wolf Cubs in 1917.


RUDYARD  KIPLING  1865 - 1936  (Va, Vb, Vc, E7, G5)


Kipling: detail, by the English artist John Collier (1850-1934), c1891 – Bateman’s, Burwash, East Sussex, England, The National Trust. Burnett: date and artist unknown. Du Maurier: by the English Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (1829-1896), 1882 – Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, Scotland.

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-sighted boy, his stay there was not a happy one. He was neglected and ill-treated by his foster family in Southsea (later described in his short story Baa, Baa, Blacksheep of 1888), and the United Services College near Bideford, Devon, which he attended from January 1878 - a boarding school designed to prepare boys for a military career - proved to be a place of bullying and beatings. He made some progress academically, but, lacking the ability to gain a scholarship to Oxford University, his parents decided to find him a job in India. With much relief, he returned to Bombay in October 1882, aged 16.

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 - 41 in total - established his literary reputation at an early age. It was during this time that he visited Simla, the summer hill station which featured in many of his stories about Anglo-Indian life.

xxxxxIn March 1889 he left for England, and, after six months of hectic sight seeing - which included Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and much of North America - he arrived at Liverpool in the October. He settled in London, living just off the Strand in Villiers Street, and within a year had established himself as one of the most gifted writers of his time. His first novel, The Light that Failed - a successful story about a painter gradually going blind - was published in 1890. Then, following a sea voyage to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India - he published Life’s Hardships, a set of short stories about the British in India in 1891, and his first set of Barrack Room Ballads in 1892. This collection of verse, one of many, describing in common parlance the experiences encountered by the ordinary British soldier, broke new ground and was an immediate success. Among the poems best remembered are Mandalay, Tommy and Gunga Din.

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-devised animal stories which extolled the basic human virtues, such as honour, courage and perseverance. Best known today are those centred around Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. These highly imaginative fables proved very successful, and were quickly followed by the sea adventure story Captain Courageous, a collection of short stories entitled The Day’s Work, and a series of poems named The Seven Seas.

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-Boer War, and it was at this time that he attracted a deal of criticism with his The White Man’s Burden of 1899, a poem which suggested that the white man - and the Englishman in particular - had a duty to rule over and encourage the heathen natives of the uncivilized world. For the liberals of this day - growing in number - this was seen as a doctrine of pure racism, born of a condescending attitude towards inferior peoples from other cultural backgrounds. Other critics suggested that it was produced to encourage the Americans to take control of the Philippine Islands (which they did) at the close of the Spanish American War.

xxxxxThis charge of “cultural imperialism” - in many respects undeserved - was to taint his reputation for many years to come. And the same year, 1899, saw the publication of Stalky and Co, a collection of school stories, - not without humour - based upon his unhappy schooldays at the United Services College in Devon. Then in 1901 Kipling produced one of his best known works, the picaresque novel Kim. The last of his tales to be set in India, and providing a vivid picture of that vast country, it told the story of a white beggar lad named Kimboll O’Hara, and his adventures when caught up in the political conflict between Britain and Russia in central Asia.

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-sacrifice in the service of one’s country.

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-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones; Agnes married the neo-classical artist Edward Poynter; and Louisa married the industrialist Alfred Baldwin and became the mother of Stanley Baldwin, the Conservative politician who was prime minister three times during the 1920s and 1930s. ……

xxxxx……xxKipling was a life-long friend of the English story-teller Rider Haggard, whom he first met in 1889, and it was during that same year that he met the American writer Mark Twain in New York. During his stay in Vermont he was visited by the Scottish novelist Arthur Conan Doyle. His friendship with Leander Starr Jameson was the inspiration for his famous poem If. He was deeply impressed by the courage and determination shown by Jameson following his disastrous invasion of the Transvaal (the famous Jameson Raid) in 1896, and he extolled these virtues in his poem. Later in his career he was a close friend of the Irish Protestant leader Edward Carson. ……

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-Aryan language, the swastika was an Indian symbol denoting good luck or general well-being. However, following its adoption by the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1920s, it was no longer printed on any of Kipling’s publications. ……

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-volume history of The Irish Guards in the Great War. ……

xxxxx…… Extracts from two of Kipling’s most

famous poems:



Frances Burnett,

Andrew Lang and

Georges du Maurier

xxxxxLike Rudyard Kipling, the English-born American author and playwright Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) is especially remembered today for her children’s stories. Prime among these was Little Lord Fauntleroy of 1886, the tale of an American boy who becomes heir to an English earldom. The novel, and later the play, were highly successful and brought her fame and fortune. Also noteworthy are The Little Princess, a Cinderella type story produced in 1905 and, six years later, The Secret Garden, access to which brings a new, happier life for the heroine, Mary Lennox, and Colin, her sick cousin. The latter story remains popular to this day.

xxxxxWorthy of mention here is the English-born American author and playwright of this period Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924). Like Rudyard Kipling, she is especially remembered today for her children’s stories. She was born in Manchester, England but emigrated with her family to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1865. Throughout a successful career, during which she returned to England on a number of occasions, she wrote more than 40 romantic novels, starting in 1877 with That Lass O’Lowries - a tale about a pit girl in a Lancashire coalmine - and including Through One Administration, a story of corruption in Washington D.C., published in 1883, A Lady of Quality, the first in a series of historical novels, begun in 1896, and The Making of A Marchioness, produced in 1901.

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-to-riches story about a young American boy who becomes heir to an English earldom, it was an instant success on both sides of the Atlantic, as a novel and then as a play. Indeed, the boy character, wearing his hair in long curls, and resplendent in a velvet suit with a lace or ruffled collar, started a fashion trend which was imposed in full or in part upon a large number of middle class youngsters. Noteworthy too are The Little Princess of 1905, a Cinderella type story based on an earlier work entitled Sara Crewe, and six years later The Secret Garden, access to which brings, as by magic, a new and happier life for the heroine Mary Lennox, and Colin, her sick cousin. The idea of The Secret Garden was inspired by the walled garden at Great Maytham Hall, a large house in Kent, England, where she lived for a number of years. This story, considered by many as her best work, remains popular to this day.


xxxxxBurnett enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, and during her career became a well-known society figure both in the United States and England, but the death of her eldest son Lionel from consumption in 1890 brought on periods of depression, and these were made worse by her divorce from Swann Burnett in 1898. She married again in 1900, but the marriage was a failure. She lived the last seventeen years of her life on Long Island, New York, and it was there that she died in 1924.

xxxxxIncidentally, she visited Boston in 1879 and met the two prominent American writers of children’s stories at that time: Louisa May Alcott - author of Little Women - and Mary Elizabeth Dodge, who wrote the tale of Hans Brinker. This doubtless played a part in her decision to turn to the writing of child fiction.

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 (1844-1912). He published the first collection, The Blue Fairy Book, in 1889, and over the next twenty years produced a further eleven volumes, each named after a different colour. Well illustrated, they proved extremely popular. The early books contained a large number of well-known works, such as Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

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” - his Book of Dreams and Ghosts was written in 1897 - and his historical works included The Mystery of Mary Stuart and John Knox and the Reformation, a book which aroused a great deal of controversy.

xxxxxIncidentally, thexxJewish historian Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916) also produced a number of fairy tale collections, beginning in the 1890s. His English Fairy Tales was published in 1890 and a sequel four years later. These were followed by two volumes of Celtic Fairy Tales, and a collection of European Folk and Fairy Tales. Jacobs was born in Australia, educated and worked in England, and eventually settled in the United States. He wrote for the Jewish Encyclopaedia, and was secretary of the Society of Hebrew Literature from 1878 to 1884. In the early 1880s he wrote a series of articles in The Times condemning the persecution of Jews in Russia.

xxxxxAndxit was in this year, 1894, that the French-born British cartoonist and author Georges du Maurier (1834-1896) produced his most famous novel Trilby. A gothic horror story in which Trilby O’Ferrall, a young artist’s model, is transformed into a prima donna by the evil hypnotist Svengali, it proved immensely popular. Songs, dances, and brands of soap and toothpaste were named after the heroine, and the soft felt hat, worn in a London stage production of the novel, became known as a trilby. Later, the plot inspired the novel Phantom of the Opera. Written by the French journalist and writer Gaston Leroux in 1910, this work spawned several film and stage productions.


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 (1907-1989), author of the novels Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek and My Cousin Rachel.