Rudyard Kipling Biography & Facts
Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist. He was born in British India, which inspired much of his work.
Kipling's works of fiction include the Jungle Book dilogy (The Jungle Book, 1894; The Second Jungle Book, 1895), Kim (1901), the Just So Stories (1902) and many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888). 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 seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children's books are classics; one critic noted "a versatile and luminous narrative gift."Kipling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was among the United Kingdom's most popular writers. Henry James said "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood, but declined both. Following his death in 1936, his ashes were interred at Poets' Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.
Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed with the political and social climate of the age. The contrasting views of him continued for much of the 20th century. 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."
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. Alice (one of the four noted MacDonald sisters) was a vivacious woman, of whom Lord Dufferin would say, "Dullness and Mrs Kipling cannot exist in the same room." John 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.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 after John Lockwood had accepted the position as Professor at the School of Art. They had been so moved by the beauty of the Rudyard Lake area that they named their first child after it, Joseph Rudyard. Two of Alice's sisters were married to artists: Georgiana to the painter Edward Burne-Jones, and her sister Agnes to Edward Poynter. A third sister, Louisa, was the mother of Kipling's most prominent relative, his first cousin Stanley Baldwin, who was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times in the 1920s and 1930s.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. Although a cottage bears a plaque noting it as his birth site, the original one may have been torn down and replaced decades ago. Some historians and conservationists take the view that the bungalow marks a site merely close to the home of Kipling's birth, as it was built in 1882 – about 15 years after Kipling was born. Kipling seems to have said as much to the dean when visiting J. J. School in the 1930s.
Kipling wrote of Bombay:
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."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."
Education in Britain
Kipling's days of "strong light and darkness" in Bombay ended when he was five. 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 living abroad. 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, 4 Campbell Road, Southsea. Kipling referred to the place as "the House of Desolation".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."
Trix fared better at Lorne Lodge; Mrs Holloway apparently hoped that Trix would eventually marry the Holloways' son. The two Kipling children, however, had no relatives in England they could visit, except that they spent a month each Christmas with a 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".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."Alice took the children during spring 1877 to Goldings Farm at Loughton, where a carefree summer and autumn was spent on the farm and adjoin.... Discover the Rudyard Kipling popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Rudyard Kipling books.