Rudyard Kipling

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Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), prolific English poet and author wrote The Jungle Book (1894);

“The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world—the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left ground.

“Man!” he snapped. “A man’s cub. Look!”

Kipling enjoyed early success with his poems but soon became known as a masterful short story writer for his portrayals of the people, history, and culture of his times. In his essay titled “Rudyard Kipling” George Orwell called him “the prophet of British Imperialism in its expansionist phase.” Through his works Kipling often focused on the British Empire and her soldiers though today that perspective of imperialism and ‘taming the natives’ has limited his popularity. Now he is best known for The Jungle Book which has inspired numerous other literary works and adaptations to television and film.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on 30 December 1865 in Bombay (now Mumbai) India, son of Alice née MacDonald (1837-1910) and John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911) Head of the Department of Architectural Sculpture at the Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay. Some of Kipling’s earliest and fondest memories are of his and sister Alice’s trips to the bustling fruit market with their ayah or nanny, or her telling them Indian nursery rhymes and stories before their nap in the tropical afternoon heat. His father’s art studio provided many creative outlets with clay and paints. Often the family took evening walks along the Bombay Esplanade beside the Arabian Sea, the dhows bobbing on the glittering waters.

“I have always felt the menacing darkness of tropical eventides, as I have loved the voices of night-winds through palm or banana leaves, and the song of the tree-frogs”—from his autobiography Something of Myself (1937)

The newly opened Suez Canal created a bustling port city which captivated young Rudyard, an intersection to the ancient cultures and mystical rites of Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Anglo-Indians and their then colonial rulers.

The idyllic days were to end when in 1871 Rudyard and Alice were sent to school in Southsea, England, to live with Captain Holloway and his wife. She ruled the boarding house with fire and brimstone and Kipling was often beaten by her and her son. “Then the old Captain died, and I was sorry, for he was the only person in that house as far as I can remember who ever threw me a kind word.”—ibid. Kipling soon learned to read and found solace in literature and poetry, voraciously turning to the magazines and books his parents sent him including Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Wilkie CollinsThe Moonstone and works by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bret Harte also left an indelible impression on Kipling.

Respite from the Holloway household was gained when he spent one month a year in London with his mother’s kindly sister Aunt Georgie and her husband, pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones and their children. Those months of December were a veritable paradise to Kipling; North End House was constantly brimming with visiting friends and relatives, and the homey and artistic effects of the affectionate couple were everywhere. Their home echoed with laughter and the patter of little feet or was eerily hushed as the children raptly listened to fantastic stories told by Edward. They also played the organ, sang songs, dressed up in costumes and acted out plays.

In 1877 Kipling’s mother returned to England and collected him from ‘The House of Desolation’ as he grimly refers to the Holloway’s over sixty years later in his autobiography, so that he could attend the United Services College in Westward Ho!, Devon. He was now armed with spectacles, for Kipling was nearly blind without them and his undiagnosed vision problems were the source of much grief from Mrs. Holloway and his schoolteachers. He learned to defend himself from bullies and settled into the life of a student, became the editor of the school paper, and in his second year started writing his own Schoolboy Lyrics (1881) printed by his parents. In 1878 his father took him to the Paris Exhibition where he was allowed to wander freely and gained much appreciation for French culture which he wrote about in Souvenirs of France (1933).

In 1881 Kipling traveled back to Lahore, India to live with his parents. It was a happy homecoming and his ayah was overjoyed to see him too. Ensconced in his own office he became the assistant editor for the Anglo-Indian Civil and Military Gazette and later The Pioneer. He had suffered frail health as a child and his penchant for working ten or more hours a day may have led to a later nervous breakdown.

Thus began Kipling’s career as roving reporter, traveling to various parts of India and the United States. He wrote dozens of essays, reviews and short stories like “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888) and “Gunga Din” (1890) which would later be collected in such volumes as Departmental Ditties (1886, poetry), Plain Tales From the Hills (1888, short stories), Wee Willie Winkie (1888, short stories), American Notes (1891, non-fiction), and his first major success Barrack-Room Ballads (1892, poetry). In 1887, he met professor Alec Hill who would become a great friend and travel companion.

Now living just off the Strand in London, England on Villiers Street, Kipling enjoyed the success of many of his publications and continued his prodigious output. During the influenza epidemic, on 18 January 1892 Kipling married Caroline ‘Carrie’ Balestier, the sister of his American publisher. American author Henry James attended. The Kiplings started their ‘magic carpet’ honeymoon in a wintry Canada (they bought twenty acres of land in North Vancouver only to learn several years later that it was owned by someone else) then went on to Yokohama, Japan, but the same day an earthquake struck he was informed by the bank that all his funds with the New Oriental Banking Corporation were lost when it failed. Left with the clothes on their backs and what they owned in their trunks, they made their way back to the United States, first living in ‘Bliss Cottage’ in the New England town of Brattleboro, Vermont before moving into ‘The Naulakha’. Their first daughter Josephine was born in 1892, Elsie in 1896, and son John “on a warm August night of ‘97’”. After a legal falling out with his publisher and brother-in-law Beatty Balestier, Kipling decided to move to England in 1896 and settled at ‘The Elms’ in Rottingdean, Sussex. He was now a success in India and America and The Jungle Book (1894) established his fame in England. Many other titles were published around this time including The Naulahka: A story of West and East (1892), The Second Jungle Book (1895) and Captains Courageous (1896).

In the winter of 1898, the Kiplings went on their first of many holidays in South Africa. “the children throve, and the colour, light, and half-oriental manners of the land bound chains round our hearts for years to come.” While in the United States a year later, Josephine died of pneumonia. Kipling had been gravely ill from it too and her death was a terrible blow to him. When the Boer War broke out Kipling joined in campaign efforts to raise money for the troops and reported for army publications. During a harrowing two-week stay in Bloemfontein he came face to face with the tragedies of war; the deaths by typhoid and dysentery and appalling conditions in the barracks. “They were wonderful even in the hour of death—these men and boys—lodge-keepers and ex-butlers of the Reserve and raw town-lads of twenty.”Something of Myself

Embittered by the Great War Kipling sought solitude in the Sussex downs and in 1902 he and Carrie found the house ‘Bateman’s’ in Burwash, which he purchased and lived in for the rest of his life. First serialised in McClure’s Magazine, Kim was published in 1901. It follows the adventures of Kimball O’Hara in the Himalayas and reflects the conflicts between Britain, Russia, and central Asia. Kipling had thus far refused many awards and honours including that of England’s Poet Laureate but in 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.”

In 1915 during World War I Kipling visited the Western Front as reporter and wrote “France at War”. The Fringes of the Fleet (1915) was followed by Sea Warfare (1916). His son John died at the age of eighteen while fighting with the Irish Guards in the Battle of Loos which he wrote about in The Irish Guards in the Great War (1923). In 1922 he was named Lord Rector of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. The same year he produced “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer” or “The Iron Ring Ceremony” and Obligation at the request of the University of Toronto Engineering department. In 1926 he was featured on the cover of Time magazine. In 1935 Kipling gave an address to the Royal Society of St. George, “An Undefended Island”, outlining the dangers Nazi Germany posed to Britain.

Rudyard Kipling died of a hemorrhage on 18 January 1936 in London, and his ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, London, England near to T. S. Eliot. Today his study and the gardens at ‘The Elm’ are preserved by the Rottingdean Preservation Society, and Bateman’s is held by the National Trust. The Kipling Society was founded in 1927. From his poem “Recessional”—Lest we forget is now a popular epitaph used by many including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (est.1917) which Kipling worked as literary adviser for during World War I.

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine -
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!

Other works by Kipling include;

Poems and Poetry Books

“The Absent-Minded Beggar” (1899)
“If” (1910)
The Seven Seas (1896)
The Five Nations (1903)
The Years Between (1919)

Short Stories and Collections

“The Man Who Would Be King” (1888)
“Mary Postgate” (1915)
Many Inventions (1893)
A Fleet in Being (1898)
Just So Stories for Little Children (1902)
Traffics and Discoveries (1904)
Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906)
Actions and Reactions (1909)
Rewards and Fairies (1910)
Songs from Books (1912)
A Diversity of Creatures (1917)
Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (1923)
Debits and Credits (1926)
Thy Servant a Dog (1930)
Limits and Renewals (1932)


The Story of the Gadsbys (1888)
The Light that Failed (1891)
Stalky & Co. (1899) based on his early school days
From Sea to Sea - Letters of Travel (1899, non-fiction)
A History of England (1911, non-fiction) with Charles Robert Leslie Fletcher
A Book of Words (1928, non-fiction)

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Recent Forum Posts on Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling: Characteristics of Victorian Literature(please help)

I'm doing a research paper about Rudyard Kipling for my 12th grade English class. I want to write about why his writing is so Victorian and the life experiences that influenced his writing. The problem is that I can't find any good online sources that talk about the characteristics of Victorian Era writing. Any ideas?

The Female of the Species

I have to write a term paper on the female of the species, and I would greatly appreciate any ideas for specific aspects of the poem I could write about!

drift, wait and obey: A Kipling Writing Recipe

I trust a moderator here will be able to correct the above misspelling of "Kipling." __________________ SOVEREIGNTY When Rudyard Kipling died in January 1936 and his autobiography was published the following year, the Baha’i community of North America was just beginning its first teaching Plan, 1937 to 1944. This poet of British imperialism, the first English language writer and the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature had died. Some critics denied Kipling’s claim to poethood. His poetic, his literary, aim was to reach out to a very varied audience, to amuse, to entertain, to educate the sensibilities and he had done this as far back as 1892 when he began to emerge as a fully fledged poet. His observation skills, his power of imagination, his inner vision, his unpretentiousness, his idealism and sense of duty, his luminous narrative gift and genius, were all part of a life that, as he himself put it, “he played as it came.” He said his recipe for writing was: "drift, wait and obey.” -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 18 April 2008.:thumbs_up I, too, drift, wait and obey, Rudyard, in a different time, indeed, a different epoch, so much has happened in those years since the beginning of those Plans, since your book, your published autobiography, saw the light of day and that preliminary task1 unfolded enabling my generation to fulfil in the course of the succeeding century the vision of America’s spiritual destiny. The empire that was your love was not to last, as you foresaw, Rudyard, but the evidences of an earthly sovereignty had just begun to be established in this world, one that would endure forever, would never perish, a sovereignty that would overshadow all the peoples of the earth thus forsaking mortal, fleeting sovereignty.2 1 The Seven Year Plan of 1937 to 1944 2 Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p.44. Ron Price 18 April 2008

The Vampire

Hello! I recently acquired a copy of Rudyard Kipling's book of poetry entitled "The Vampire and other poems". It was published by Dodge Publishing Company, 220 East 23d Street, New York. It has no date. The poems include: "The Vampire", "Pink Dominoes", "The Explanation", "The Gift of the Sea". "Municipal", "A Code of Morals", and "The Last Department". I didn't see it listed on your list of poetry books by Kipling. Does anyone know anything about this book? Thank you, googles.

Need advice for Kipling's poetry

I am just looking for an advice.A couple of days ago I found in a library a complete collection of Kipling's poetry and I was wondering whether it was worth it.I'm in a phase where I find poetry extremely satisfactory but only if it is of high quality.I think that Kipling's prose is very interesting and meaningful,but are his poems the same?I've read only a couple and with that you can't really judge.Anyone able to help?

The Years Between and Poems From History

This is a collection of poetry by Kippling that I have come acorss, and I have found most the works within this collection to be quite good and I think this was a good and charming selection of poetic work by him. Most the poems are releatively short, and I find them easy to read but still quite potent and very rich.

Kipling's description of the border

Kipling once wrote something to effect: "Life on the border will always be more dangerous because the border is where people and cultures clash." I am looking for the exact quote and the name of the book it appeared in.

Kipling Short Story

Can anyone tell me the name of a short story by Kipling called "The ___ Cat ? It apparently featured in Jilly Cooper's novel "Polo" Many thanks in advance.

Looking at 'If' by Rudyard Kipling

IF you do X, Y and Z, Bob's your uncle. That's essentially it, right?

The Ballad of East and West

The Ballad of East and West 1889 Rudyard Kipling OH, EAST is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth! Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side, And he has lifted the Colonel’s mare that is the Colonel’s pride: He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day, And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away. Then up and spoke the Colonel’s son that led a troop of the Guides: “Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?” Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar: “If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are. At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is into Bonair, But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare, So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly, By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai. But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then, For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal’s men. There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between, And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.” The Colonel’s son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he, With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell and the head of the gallows-tree. The Colonel’s son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat— Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat. He’s up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly, Till he was aware of his father’s mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai, Till he was aware of his father’s mare with Kamal upon her back, And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack. He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide. “Ye shoot like a soldier,” Kamal said. “Show now if ye can ride.” It’s up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go, The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe. The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above, But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove. There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between, And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho’ never a man was seen. They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn, The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn. The dun he fell at a water-course—in a woful heap fell he, And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free. He has knocked the pistol out of his hand—small room was there to strive, “’Twas only by favour of mine,” quoth he, “ye rode so long alive: There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree, But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee. If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low, The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row: If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high, The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly.” Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “Do good to bird and beast, But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast. If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away, Belike the price of a jackal’s meal were more than a thief could pay. They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain, The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain. But if thou thinkest the price be fair,—thy brethren wait to sup, The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn,—howl, dog, and call them up! And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack, Give me my father’s mare again, and I’ll fight my own way back!” Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet. “No talk shall be of dogs,” said he, “when wolf and gray wolf meet. May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath; What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?” Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “I hold by the blood of my clan: Take up the mare for my father’s gift—by God, she has carried a man!” The red mare ran to the Colonel’s son, and nuzzled against his breast; “We be two strong men,” said Kamal then, “but she loveth the younger best. So she shall go with a lifter’s dower, my turquoise-studded rein, My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain.” The Colonel’s son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end, “Ye have taken the one from a foe,” said he; “will ye take the mate from a friend?” “A gift for a gift,” said Kamal straight; “a limb for the risk of a limb. Thy father has sent his son to me, I’ll send my son to him!” With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest— He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest. “Now here is thy master,” Kamal said, “who leads a troop of the Guides, And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides. Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed, Thy life is his—thy fate it is to guard him with thy head. So, thou must eat the White Queen’s meat, and all her foes are thine, And thou must harry thy father’s hold for the peace of the Border-line, And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power— Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur.” They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault, They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt: They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod, On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God. The Colonel’s son he rides the mare and Kamal’s boy the dun, And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one. And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear— There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer. “Ha’ done! ha’ done!” said the Colonel’s son. “Put up the steel at your sides! Last night ye had struck at a Border thief—to-night ’Tis a man of the Guides!” Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

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