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Rudyard Kipling

prolific author of poetry, short stories, and novels

Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kiplimg was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on December 30, 1865. His father was John Lockwood Kipling, an English artist and scholar who was head of the Department of Architectural Sculpture at the Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay; his mother was Alice MacDonald Kiplimg. Raised in a household full of Indian servants, Joseph learned Hindustani before he could speak English.

At the age of 6 Kipling was sent to school in Southsea, England, where he lived with a foster family that was often cruel to him. Kipling was finally freed from his foster family at the age of 12, when he entered the United Services College, a school that had been established primarily for the children of military officers who could not afford more expensive institutions. Life at the college was only moderately better, however, as Kipling had to contend with bullies and teachers who beat their students. Fortunately, Kipling was able to find solace in the school's library, and by his second year he had begun his own student paper, Schoolboy Lyrics, which was printed and published by his parents.

Unable to afford a university education, Kipling returned to India in 1882 and joined the staff of the Civil and Military Gazette, a newspaper in Lahore. He began writing short stories soon after, many of which were printed in the Gazette, as well as the Allahabad Pioneer. His first collection of short stories, Plain Tales from the Hills was published in 1888; his second collection, Wee Willie Wonka, was published in 1889. He moved to London as a reporter for the Gazette in 1889, and his fame as a writer began growing soon after thanks to a glowing review in the London Times.

In London, Kipling met Wolcott Balestier, an American agent and publisher. The two men grew incredibly close, and even traveled together to the United States, where Balestier introduced his fellow writer to his childhood home of Brattleboro, Vermont. In 1891, Kipling published American Notes, which chronicled his early impressions of America. While in America, Kipling and Balestier wrote The Naulahka: A Story of the West and East, a novel that was published to lukewarm reviews in 1892.

In 1891, Kipling married Balestier's sister Caroline ("Carrie"). After a honeymoon that took them to Canada and then to Japan, the couple settled in Brattleboro, where they built a large home they called "The Naulahka." Thier first child, Josephine, was born in 1892; another daughter, Elsie, was born in 1896, and son John was born in 1897.

Kipling's reputation as a writer of children's stories began during the early years of his marriage, with the publication of The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895), both of which describe the adventures of Mowgli, an Indian boy who gets lost in a forest and finds shelter with a family of wolves. Other major works published during his years in Brattleboro include The Light that Failed (1891), his first novel; Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), a collection of poems written in Cockney dialect; Many Inventions (1893), a collection of short stories; and The Seven Seas (1896), a collection of poetry.

In 1896, a simmering dispute with another of Carrie's brothers finally boiled over and the Kiplings decided to move back to England. In 1897, Kipling published Captains Courageous, a novel written specifically for boys. Stalky and Co., a collection of stories about his life at United Services College, was published in 1899.

In the winter of 1899, Carrie, who was homesick, decided that the whole family needed to travel back to New York to see her mother. Unfortunately, by the time the family reached New York both Kipling and daughter Josephine were gravely ill with pneumonia. Kipling eventually recovered, but Josephine did not, and Kipling vowed he would never again return to America. In 1902, the Kiplings bought a large estate in Sussex, England, known as Bateman's. Despite the grief brought on by Josephine's death, Kipling's years at Bateman's were very productive. Major works published during this time include Kim (1901), a children's novel which follows the adventures of Kimball O’Hara in the Himalayas; Just So Stories (1902), a collectiom of stories he used to tell Josephine at bedtime; and Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), a collection of short stories.

Although Kipling was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, his views on British colonial expansion and other issues were beginning to cost him popularity. At a time when many British citizens were opposed to Britain's colonial policies, Kipling was an ardent supporter, and it was he who created the phrase white man's burden, which he used to justify Britain's economic and military expansion into "nonwhite" regions. Kipling was also openly opposed to woman suffrage, favored institution of a military draft prior, and bitterly attacked the United States for remaining neutral in the early years of World War I. Although he wrote steadily until his death, he never regained his popularity after the war.

Rudyard Kipling died of a hemorrhage in a London hospital on January 18, 1936. His ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, London.

His Major Works

Barrack-Room Ballads (1892)
Departmental Ditties and Other Verses (1886)
The Seven Seas (1896)
The Five Nations (1903)
The Years Between (1919)

Short Story Collections
Plain Tales from the Hills (1888)
Wee Willie Wonka (1889)
American Notes (1891)
Many Inventions (1893)
A Fleet in Being (1898)
Stalky & Co. (1899)
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 Light that Failed (1891)
The Naulahka: A Story of the West and East (1892)
Captains Courageous (1897)
Just-So Stories (1902)
Kim (1902)
Stalky & Co. (1899)
The Jungle Book (1894)
The Light That Failed (1891)
The Second Jungle Book (1895)

From Sea to Sea - Letters of Travel (1899)
A History of England (1911)
A Book of Words (1928)

Something of Myself for My Friends Known and Unknown (1937)


Academy of American Poets
Biography Channel
The Literature Network

See Also

Mumbai, India
Nobel Prize for Literature
World War I

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The Robinson Library >> English Literature >> 1640-1770

This page was last updated on 12/30/2018.