Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling
Kipling in 1895
Kipling in 1895
BornJoseph Rudyard Kipling
(1865-12-30)30 December 1865
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died18 January 1936(1936-01-18) (aged 70)
London, England
Resting placePoets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London
OccupationShort-story writer, novelist, poet, journalist
NationalityBritish
GenreShort story, novel, children's literature, poetry, travel literature, science fiction
Notable worksThe Jungle Book
Just So Stories
Kim
Captains Courageous
"If—"
"Gunga Din"
"The White Man's Burden"
Notable awardsNobel Prize in Literature
1907
Spouse
Caroline Starr Balestier (m. 1892)
Children3, including Elsie Bambridge and John Kipling

Signature

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (d/ RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)[1] was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888).[2] His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story;[3] his children's books are classics of children's literature, and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".[4][5]

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[3] Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known."[3] In 1907, at the age of 41, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize and its youngest recipient to date.[6] He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.[7]

Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age[8][9] and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century.[10][11] George Orwell saw Kipling as "a jingo imperialist", who was "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting".[12]Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] 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."[13]

Childhood (1865–1882)

Malabar Point, Bombay, 1865.

Rudyard Kipling was born on 30 December 1865 in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, to Alice Kipling (née MacDonald) and John Lockwood Kipling.[14] Alice (one of the four noted MacDonald sisters)[15] was a vivacious woman,[16] about whom Lord Dufferin would say, "Dullness and Mrs Kipling cannot exist in the same room."[3][17][18] Lockwood Kipling, a sculptor and pottery designer, was the Principal and Professor of Architectural Sculpture at the newly founded Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Bombay.[16]

John Lockwood and Alice had met in 1863 and courted at Rudyard Lake in Rudyard, Staffordshire, England. They married and moved to India in 1865. They had been so moved by the beauty of the Rudyard Lake area that when their first child was born they named him after it. Two of Alice's sisters married artists: Georgiana was married to the painter Edward Burne-Jones, and her sister Agnes to Edward Poynter. Kipling's most famous relative was his first cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who was Conservative Prime Minister three times in the 1920s and '30s.[19]

Kipling's birth home on the campus of the J J School of Art in Bombay was for many years used as the Dean's residence.[20] Although the cottage bears a plaque noting it as the site where Kipling was born, the original cottage may have been torn down decades ago and a new one built in its place.[21] Some historians and conservationists are also of the view that the bungalow marks a site that is merely close to the home of Kipling's birth, as the bungalow was built in 1882—about 15 years after Kipling was born. Kipling seems to have said as much to the Dean when he visited J J School in the 1930s.[22]

Kipling's India: a map of British India

Kipling wrote of Bombay:

Mother of Cities to me,
For I was born in her gate,
Between the palms and the sea,
Where the world-end steamers wait.[23]

According to Bernice M. Murphy, "Kipling's parents considered themselves 'Anglo-Indians' [a term used in the 19th century for people of British origin living in India] and so too would their son, though he spent the bulk of his life elsewhere. Complex issues of identity and national allegiance would become prominent in his fiction."[24]

Kipling referred to such conflicts, for example: "In the afternoon heats before we took our sleep, she (the Portuguese ayah, or nanny) or Meeta (the Hindu bearer, or male attendant) would tell us stories and Indian nursery songs all unforgotten, and we were sent into the dining-room after we had been dressed, with the caution 'Speak English now to Papa and Mamma.' So one spoke 'English', haltingly translated out of the vernacular idiom that one thought and dreamed in".[25]

Education in Britain

English Heritage blue plaque marking Kipling’s time in Southsea, Portsmouth

Kipling's days of "strong light and darkness" in Bombay ended when he was five years old.[25] As was the custom in British India, he and his three-year-old sister Alice ("Trix") were taken to the United Kingdom—in their case to Southsea, Portsmouth—to live with a couple who boarded children of British nationals who were serving in India.[26] For the next six years (from October 1871 to April 1877), the children lived with the couple, Captain Pryse Agar Holloway, once an officer in the merchant navy, and Sarah Holloway, at their house, Lorne Lodge, at 4 Campbell Road, Southsea.[27]

In his autobiography, published 65 years later, Kipling recalled the stay with horror, and wondered if the combination of cruelty and neglect which he experienced there at the hands of Mrs Holloway might not have hastened the onset of his literary life: "If you cross-examine a child of seven or eight on his day's doings (specially when he wants to go to sleep) he will contradict himself very satisfactorily. If each contradiction be set down as a lie and retailed at breakfast, life is not easy. I have known a certain amount of bullying, but this was calculated torture—religious as well as scientific. Yet it made me give attention to the lies I soon found it necessary to tell: and this, I presume, is the foundation of literary effort".[25]

Kipling's England: A map of England showing Kipling's homes

Trix fared better at Lorne Lodge; Mrs Holloway apparently hoped that Trix would eventually marry the Holloways' son.[28] The two Kipling children, however, did have relatives in England whom they could visit. They spent a month each Christmas with their maternal aunt Georgiana ("Georgy") and her husband, Edward Burne-Jones, at their house, The Grange, in Fulham, London, which Kipling called "a paradise which I verily believe saved me."[25]

In the spring of 1877, Alice returned from India and removed the children from Lorne Lodge. Kipling remembers, "Often and often afterwards, the beloved Aunt would ask me why I had never told any one how I was being treated. Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established. Also, badly-treated children have a clear notion of what they are likely to get if they betray the secrets of a prison-house before they are clear of it".[25]

In January 1878, Kipling was admitted to the United Services College at Westward Ho!, Devon, a school founded a few years earlier to prepare boys for the army. The school proved rough going for him at first, but later led to firm friendships and provided the setting for his schoolboy stories Stalky & Co. (1899).[28] During his time there, Kipling also met and fell in love with Florence Garrard, who was boarding with Trix at Southsea (to which Trix had returned). Florence became the model for Maisie in Kipling's first novel The Light that Failed (1891).[28]

Return to India

Near the end of his time at the school, it was decided that Kipling lacked the academic ability to get into Oxford University on a scholarship.[28] His parents lacked the wherewithal to finance him,[16] so Kipling's father obtained a job for him in Lahore, where he was Principal of the Mayo College of Art and Curator of the Lahore Museum. Kipling was to be the assistant editor of a small local newspaper, the Civil & Military Gazette.

He sailed for India on 20 September 1882, and arrived in Bombay on 18 October. He described this moment years later: "So, at sixteen years and nine months, but looking four or five years older, and adorned with real whiskers which the scandalised Mother abolished within one hour of beholding, I found myself at Bombay where I was born, moving among sights and smells that made me deliver in the vernacular sentences whose meaning I knew not. Other Indian-born boys have told me how the same thing happened to them."[25] This arrival changed Kipling, as he explains: "There were yet three or four days' rail to Lahore, where my people lived. After these, my English years fell away, nor ever, I think, came back in full strength".[25]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Rudyard Kipling
aragonés: Rudyard Kipling
asturianu: Rudyard Kipling
Avañe'ẽ: Rudyard Kipling
azərbaycanca: Redyard Kiplinq
Bân-lâm-gú: Rudyard Kipling
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рэд’ярд Кіплінг
български: Ръдиард Киплинг
bosanski: Rudyard Kipling
brezhoneg: Rudyard Kipling
čeština: Rudyard Kipling
español: Rudyard Kipling
Esperanto: Rudyard Kipling
føroyskt: Rudyard Kipling
français: Rudyard Kipling
Gàidhlig: Rudyard Kipling
hrvatski: Rudyard Kipling
Bahasa Indonesia: Rudyard Kipling
íslenska: Rudyard Kipling
italiano: Rudyard Kipling
Basa Jawa: Rudyard Kipling
Kiswahili: Rudyard Kipling
Lëtzebuergesch: Rudyard Kipling
Lingua Franca Nova: Rudyard Kipling
lumbaart: Rudyard Kipling
македонски: Радјард Киплинг
Malagasy: Rudyard Kipling
Bahasa Melayu: Rudyard Kipling
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ရတ်ဒ်ယတ် ကစ်ပလင်
Nederlands: Rudyard Kipling
norsk nynorsk: Rudyard Kipling
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Rudyard Kipling
Piemontèis: Rudyard Kipling
Plattdüütsch: Rudyard Kipling
português: Rudyard Kipling
română: Rudyard Kipling
Runa Simi: Rudyard Kipling
Simple English: Rudyard Kipling
slovenčina: Rudyard Kipling
slovenščina: Rudyard Kipling
српски / srpski: Радјард Киплинг
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Rudyard Kipling
татарча/tatarça: Redyard Kipling
Türkçe: Rudyard Kipling
українська: Редьярд Кіплінг
Tiếng Việt: Rudyard Kipling
West-Vlams: Rudyard Kipling
Yorùbá: Rudyard Kipling
粵語: 吉百齡