Rudyard Kipling’s Birthday (1865)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He is mostly remembered for his poems and stories about British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling was born on December 30, 1865 in Bombay, India, where his father was an arts and crafts teacher at the Jeejeebhoy School of Art. India was at that time ruled by the British.

As was the custom in British India, Kipling was sent to a boarding school in England. In his autobiography, Kipling recalled the stay with horror, but when asked why he never told anyone at the time how he was being treated, he replied: “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.”

At age 16 Kipling moved back to India, where he lived for about ten years. He went to work for The Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. In addition to his newspaper reporting, he wrote many stories and poems about life in India, and about British soldiers and civilians who were stationed there. In November 1887 he was transferred to the Gazette’s much larger sister newspaper, The Pioneer, as a roving correspondent but was discharged in early 1889 after some disputes.

At this time Kipling left India, traveling first to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. He then went to the United States, starting his American travels in San Francisco. From there Kipling journeyed north to Oregon and Washington; up into Canada; back into the U.S. to Yellowstone National Park; down to Salt Lake City; then east to Omaha, Nebraska, and on to Chicago, Illinois; then to Pennsylvania and later to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. In the course of this journey he met Mark Twain in Elmira, New York. He then crossed the Atlantic, and reached Liverpool in October 1889.  His travel articles were published in From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches: Letters of Travel.

On January 18, 1892, Rudyard Kipling married Carrie Balestier, whom he had met a year earlier and who came from a prominent New England family. She was the daughter of American writer and publishing agent, Wolcott Balestier, with whom Kipling had collaborated on a novel. Following a London wedding, the couple honeymooned in the United States and lived for several years at the Balestier family estate near Brattleboro, Vermont. While living there, Kipling wrote some of his best works including Captains Courageous, The Jungle Book, The Day’s Work, The Seven Seas, Kim, and Just So Stories.

The Kipling house still stands on Kipling Road in Dummerston, Vermont. It’s a big, secluded, dark-green house, with shingled roof and sides, which Kipling called his “ship,” and which brought him “a mind at ease.” Kipling loved life in Vermont, especially the outdoors and the annual display of autumn leaves. It’s where the couple’s first two children were born, and the Kiplings might very well have stayed there if it hadn’t been for in-law problems. They moved back to England in July 1896.

Kipling made his début in the London literary world to great acclaim. He became one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His children’s stories remain popular, and his Jungle Books have been made into several movies. Kipling was the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, which was awarded to him in 1907. He died in 1933.

Kim is a story about a little boy who has many adventures
(No. 78 on the list of Greatest Books Of the 20th Century)

Did You Know…? The founder of the Boy Scouts used many themes from Kim and The Jungle Book stories in setting up his junior movement, the Wolf Cubs.

Read The Works of Rudyard Kipling online for free (from The University of Adelaide)

Complete Collection of Poems by Rudyard Kipling (Poetry Lover’s Page)

The Works Of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition (PDF and mobile PDF version)

The Kipling Society Homepage

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