Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on 30 December 1865 in in Mumbai (alias Bombay), 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.

Kipling was an prolific english poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.

After India, he was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888), and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If (1910).

He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story". His children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best works are said to exhibit "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. A young George Orwell called him a "prophet of British imperialism". According to critic Douglas Kerr: "He is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with.

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.

Books: 

* The Story of the Gadsbys (1888)
* Plain Tales from the Hills (1888)
* The Phantom Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales (1888)
* The Light that Failed (1890)
* "Mandalay" (1890) (poetry)
* "Gunga Din" (1890) (poetry)
* The Jungle Book (1894) (short stories)
* The Second Jungle Book (1895) (short stories)
* "If—" (1895) (poetry)
* The seven seas (1896)
* Captains Courageous (1897)
* "Recessional" (1897)
* The Day's Work (1898)
* Stalky & Co. (1899)
* "The White Man's Burden" (1899)
* Kim (1901)
* Just So Stories (1902)
* Puck of Pook's Hill (1906)
* Life's Handicap (1915) (short stories)
* The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919)
* Limits and Renewals (1932)

Journals: 

* David, C. (2007). Rudyard Kipling: a critical study, New Delhi, Anmol, 2007. ISBN 81-261-3101-2
* Gilbert, Elliot L. ed., (1965) Kipling and the Critics (New York: New York University Press)
* Gilmour, David. (2003) The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 0374528969
* Green, Roger Lancelyn, ed., (1971) Kipling: the Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul).
* Gross, John, ed. (1972) Rudyard Kipling: the Man, his Work and his World (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
* Kemp, Sandra. (1988) Kipling's Hidden Narratives Oxford: Blackwell* Lycett, Andrew (1999). Rudyard Kipling. London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81907-0
* Lycett, Andrew (ed.) (2010). Kipling Abroad, I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-072-9
* Ricketts, Harry. (2001) Rudyard Kipling: A Life New York: Da Capo Press ISBN: 0786708301
* Rooney, Caroline, and Kaori Nagai, eds. Kipling and Beyond: Patriotism, Globalisation, and Postcolonialism (Palgrave Macmillan; 2011) 214 pages; scholarly essays on Kipling's "boy heroes of empire," Kipling and C.L.R. James, and Kipling and the new American empire, etc.
* Rutherford, Andrew, ed. (1964) Kipling's Mind and Art (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd)
* Tompkins, J. M. S. (1959) The Art of Rudyard Kipling (London : Methuen) online edition