East Indian-born Brit by the name of Joseph Rudyard Kipling stumbled onto
the literary scene not many years following his birth on December 30, 1865.
Today, he is best known for his children's tales, The Jungle Book (1894)
Kim (1901). He is the first
British writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he accepted
was raised by Indian nannies and he spoke "kitchen Hindi" every
bit as well as he
spoke English. His father was an arts and crafts teacher at the Jeejeebhoy School of Arts, and his mother was related by marriage to painter
Edward Burne-Jones. At the age of six, his parents took him to England
and placed him in a foster home at Southsea where he began his
education. He later wrote about the unhappiness he experienced as a
result of the harsh treatment he received there in the short story, Baa
Baa, Black Sheep, as well as in the novel The Light That Failed
(1890) and in an autobiography (1937).
In 1878, Kipling entered United Services College, a
boarding school in North Devon, England. It was an expensive
school specializing in the training of young men for military academies. But
his poor eyesight and lackluster academic performance put an end to his
plans for a military career. Nevertheless, he recalled these
years fondly in one of his most popular books, Stalky & Co (1899).
returned to India in 1882, where he worked as a journalist in Lahore for the
Civil and Military Gazette (1882-87) and as an assistant editor and
overseas correspondent in Allahabad for the Pioneer (1887-89).
The stories he wrote during his last two years in India were collected in
The Phantom Rickshaw (1888) and Plain Tales from the Hills
(1888). He said, "If history were taught in the form of stories, it
would never be forgotten."
returned to England in 1889, where he was hailed as the literary heir to
Charles Dickens. Between the years 1889 and 1892, he lived in London
and published Life's Handicap (1891), a collection of Indian stories,
and Barrack-Room Ballads, a collection of poems that included the
classic, "Gunga Din," which was later turned into a film starring
Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Joan Fontaine.
In 1892, Kipling married Caroline Starr Balestier, the
sister of an American publisher and writer. The two collaborated on a
novel, The Naulakha(1892), and moved to Vermont in the United States.
There, Kipling fought constantly with his neighbor and brother-in-law,
Beatty Balestier. After the death of the Kiplings' daughter, the
couple left Vermont for Burwash, Sussex, England.
Kipling's marriage was less than idyllic, the author nevertheless managed
to turn out Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894),
The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896), and
Captains Courageous(1897) in short order. "Borrow trouble for
yourself, if that's your nature," Kipling once said, "but don't lend it to
In England, Kipling became politically active, backing many
of the Conservative Party's most controversial programs. He wrote about the dangers
of entering into a war with Germany, and he opposed both women's suffrage
and home rule for Ireland.
Although he was mainly considered a poet in his lifetime, Kipling was offered both a knighthood and the post of British Poet
Laureate. He turned both down, preferring to live more anonymously.
"Take everything you like seriously," he said, "except yourselves."
1899, during the Boer War, Kipling spent several months in South Africa.
Afterwards, he wrote Kim (1901), which is widely considered to be his
best novel. The story, set in colonial India, depicts the adventures of an orphaned
son of a sergeant in an Irish infantry regiment. The children's
historical work, Puck of Pook's Hill, appeared in 1906, and its
sequel, Rewards and Fairies, in 1910.
Soon after Kipling had received the Nobel Prize, his output of fiction
and poems began to dwindle. His son was killed in World War I, and in
1923, he published The Irish Guards In The Great War, a history
of his son's regiment.
Rudyard Kipling died inLondon on January 18, 1936, and
was buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey. Before he died, he
did everything possible to recover and destroy all of the letters he had
ever sent out in order to protect his private life. His widow
continued the quest after his death, although several letters survived and
have since been published.
Kipling once said, "I always prefer to believe the best of
everybody, it saves so much trouble." The author's autobiography, Something Of Myself,
appeared posthumously in 1937.
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