"The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool." -- Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 — 18 January 1936) was a British author and poet. Born in Bombay, in British India, he is best known for his works of fiction 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 was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James said of him: "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, 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.
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."
"A man's mind is wont to tell him more than seven watchmen sitting in a tower.""A people always ends by resembling its shadow.""A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.""A woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty.""All the people like us are we, and everyone else is They.""An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.""And that is called paying the Dane-geld; but we've proved it again and again, that if once you have paid him the Dane-geld you never get rid of the Dane.""And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, till the Devil whispered behind the leaves "It's pretty, but is it Art?"""Asia is not going to be civilized after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.""Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbours.""Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.""Everyone is more or less mad on one point.""Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.""For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.""For the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one.""Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade.""God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.""He travels the fastest who travels alone.""He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.""Heaven grant us patience with a man in love.""I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.""I have struck a city - a real city - and they call it Chicago... I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.""If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.""If I were dammed of body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole, mother o' mine o mother o' mine.""If I were hanged on the highest hill, Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine! I know whose love would follow me still Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!""If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'""If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, what's more, you'll be a man, my son.""It's clever, but is it Art?""Never look backwards or you'll fall down the stairs.""Often and often afterwards, the beloved Aunt would ask me why I had never told anyone how I was being treated. Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established.""San Francisco is a mad city - inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of a remarkable beauty.""Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets.""The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.""We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.""When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.""Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."
Rudyard Kipling was born Joseph Rudyard Kipling on 30 December 1865 in Bombay, in British India to Alice Kipling and Lockwood Kipling. Alice Kipling (one of four remarkable Victorian sisters) was a vivacious woman about whom a future Viceroy of India would say, "Dullness and Mrs. Kipling cannot exist in the same room." Lockwood Kipling, a sculptor and pottery designer, was the principal and professor of architectural sculpture at the newly-founded Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay.
The couple, who had moved to India earlier that year, had met in courtship two years previously at Rudyard Lake in Rudyard, Staffordshire, England, and had been so taken by its beauty that they now named their firstborn after it. Kipling's maternal aunt, Georgiana, was married to the painter Edward Burne-Jones and his aunt Agnes was married to the painter Edward Poynter. His most famous relative was his first cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who was Conservative Prime Minister three times in the 1920s and 1930s. Kipling's birthplace home still stands on the campus of the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art in Mumbai and for many years was used as the Dean's residence. Mumbai historian Foy Nissen points out however that although the cottage bears a plaque stating that this is the site where Kipling was born, the original cottage was pulled down decades ago and a new one built in its place. The wooden bungalow has been empty and locked up for years. In November 2007, it was announced that his birthplace in the campus of the J J School of Art in Mumbai will be turned into a museum celebrating the author and his works (ref under Legacy below).He completed his college education in St.Xaviers College in Mumbai.
Of Bombay, Kipling was to write:
Mother of Cities to me,For I was born in her gate,Between the palms and the sea,Where the world-end steamers wait.
According to Bernice M. Murphy: "Kipling’s parents considered themselves 'Anglo-Indian' (a term used in the 19th century for people of British origin living in India) and so too would their son, though he in fact spent the bulk of his life elsewhere. Complex issues of identity and national allegiance would become prominent features in his fiction." Kipling himself was to write about these conflicts: "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".
Kipling's days of "strong light and darkness" in Bombay were to end when he was five years old. As was the custom in British India, he and his three-year-old sister, Alice (or "Trix"), were taken to England...in their case to Southsea (Portsmouth), to be cared for by a couple that took in children of British nationals living in India. The two children would live with the couple, Captain and Mrs. Holloway, at their house, Lorne Lodge, for the next six years. In his autobiography, published some 65 years later, Kipling would recall this time with horror, and wonder ironically if the combination of cruelty and neglect 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".
Kipling's sister Trix fared better at Lorne Lodge, Mrs. Holloway apparently hoping that Trix would eventually marry the Holloway son. The two children, however, did have relatives in England they could visit. They spent a month each Christmas with their maternal aunt Georgiana ("Georgy"), and her husband, the artist Edward Burne-Jones, at their house, "The Grange" in Fulham, London, which Kipling was to call "a paradise which I verily believe saved me." In the spring of 1877, Alice Kipling 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".
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 armed forces. 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. published many years later. During his time there, Kipling also met and fell in love with Florence Garrard, a fellow boarder with Trix at Southsea (to which Trix had returned). Florence was to become the model for Maisie in Kipling's first novel, The Light that Failed (1891).
Towards the end of his stay at the school, it was decided that he lacked the academic ability to get into Oxford University on a scholarship and his parents lacked the wherewithal to finance him; consequently, Lockwood Kipling obtained a job for his son in Lahore (now in Pakistan), where Lockwood was now Principal of the Mayo College of Art and Curator of the Lahore Museum. Kipling was to be 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 1882. 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." 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".
The Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore, which Kipling was to call "mistress and most true love," appeared six days a week throughout the year except for a one-day break each for Christmas and Easter. Kipling was worked hard by the editor, Stephen Wheeler, but his need to write was unstoppable. In 1886, he published his first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties. That year also brought a change of editors at the newspaper. Kay Robinson, the new editor, allowed more creative freedom and Kipling was asked to contribute short stories to the newspaper.
During the summer of 1883, Kipling visited Simla (now Shimla), well-known hill station and summer capital of British India. By then it was established practice for the Viceroy of India and the government to move to Simla for six months and the town became a "centre of power as well as pleasure." Kipling's family became yearly visitors to Simla and Lockwood Kipling was asked to serve in the Christ Church there. He returned to Simla for his annual leave each year from 1885 to 1888, and the town figured prominently in many of the stories Kipling was writing for the Gazette. Kipling describes this time: "My month’s leave at Simla, or whatever Hill Station my people went to, was pure joy...every golden hour counted. It began in heat and discomfort, by rail and road. It ended in the cool evening, with a wood fire in one’s bedroom, and next morn...thirty more of them ahead!...the early cup of tea, the Mother who brought it in, and the long talks of us all together again. One had leisure to work, too, at whatever play-work was in one’s head, and that was usually full." Back in Lahore, some thirty-nine stories appeared in the Gazette between November 1886 and June 1887. Most of these stories were included in Plain Tales from the Hills, Kipling's first prose collection, which was published in Calcutta in January 1888, a month after his 22nd birthday. Kipling's time in Lahore, however, had come to an end. In November 1887, he had been transferred to the Gazette's much larger sister newspaper, The Pioneer, in Allahabad in the United Provinces.
His writing continued at a frenetic pace and during the following year, he published six collections of short stories: Soldiers Three, The Story of the Gadsbys, In Black and White, Under the Deodars, The Phantom Rickshaw, and Wee Willie Winkie, containing a total of 41 stories, some quite long. In addition, as The Pioneer's special correspondent in western region of Rajputana, he wrote many sketches that were later collected in Letters of Marque and published in From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel.
In early 1889, The Pioneer relieved Kipling of his charge over a dispute. For his part, Kipling had been increasingly thinking about the future. He sold the rights to his six volumes of stories for £200 and a small royalty, and the Plain Tales for £50; in addition, from The Pioneer, he received six-months' salary in lieu of notice. He decided to use this money to make his way to London, the centre of the literary universe in the British Empire. On 9 March 1889, Kipling left India, travelling first to San Francisco via Rangoon, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. He then travelled through the United States writing articles for The Pioneer that too were collected in From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel. Starting his American travels in San Francisco, Kipling journeyed north to Portland, Oregon; on to Seattle, Washington; up into Canada, to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia; 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 Beaver, Pennsylvania on the Ohio River to visit the Hill family; from there he went to Chautauqua with Professor Hill, 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, and felt much awed in his presence. Kipling then crossed the Atlantic, and reached Liverpool in October 1889. Soon thereafter, he made his début in the London literary world to great acclaim.
In London, Kipling had several stories accepted by various magazine editors. He also found a place to live for the next two years:
Meantime, I had found me quarters in Villiers Street, Strand, which forty-six years ago was primitive and passionate in its habits and population. My rooms were small, not over-clean or well-kept, but from my desk I could look out of my window through the fanlight of Gatti’s Music-Hall entrance, across the street, almost on to its stage. The Charing Cross trains rumbled through my dreams on one side, the boom of the Strand on the other, while, before my windows, Father Thames under the Shot Tower walked up and down with his traffic.
In the next two years, and in short order, he published a novel, The Light that Failed; had a nervous breakdown; and met an American writer and publishing agent, Wolcott Balestier, with whom he collaborated on a novel, The Naulahka (a title he uncharacteristically misspelt; see below). In 1891, on the advice of his doctors, Kipling embarked on another sea voyage visiting South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and once again India. However, he cut short his plans for spending Christmas with his family in India when he heard of Wolcott Balestier's sudden death from typhoid fever, and immediately decided to return to London. Before his return, he had used the telegram to propose to and be accepted by Wolcott's sister Caroline (Carrie) Balestier, whom he had met a year earlier, and with whom he had apparently been having an intermittent romance. Meanwhile, late in 1891, his collection of short stories of the British in India, Life's Handicap, was also published in London.On 18 January 1892, Carrie Balestier (aged 29) and Rudyard Kipling (aged 26) were married in London, in the "thick of an influenza epidemic, when the undertakers had run out of black horses and the dead had to be content with brown ones." The wedding was held at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Henry James gave the bride away.
The couple settled upon a honeymoon that would take them first to the United States (including a stop at the Balestier family estate near Brattleboro, Vermont) and then on to Japan. However, when the couple arrived in Yokohama, Japan, they discovered that their bank, The New Oriental Banking Corporation, had failed. Taking their loss in their stride, they returned to the U.S., back to Vermont...Carrie by this time was pregnant with their first child...and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for ten dollars a month. According to Kipling, "We furnished it with a simplicity that fore-ran the hire-purchase system. We bought, second or third hand, a huge, hot-air stove which we installed in the cellar. We cut generous holes in our thin floors for its eight inch tin pipes (why we were not burned in our beds each week of the winter I never can understand) and we were extraordinarily and self-centredly content."
In this cottage, Bliss Cottage, their first child, Josephine, was born "in three foot of snow on the night of 29 December 1892. Her Mother’s birthday being the 31st and mine the 30th of the same month, we congratulated her on her sense of the fitness of things ..."
It was also in this cottage that the first dawnings of the Jungle Books came to Kipling: "workroom in the Bliss Cottage was seven feet by eight, and from December to April the snow lay level with its window-sill. It chanced that I had written a tale about Indian Forestry work which included a boy who had been brought up by wolves. In the stillness, and suspense, of the winter of ’92 some memory of the Masonic Lions of my childhood’s magazine, and a phrase in Haggard’s Nada the Lily, combined with the echo of this tale. After blocking out the main idea in my head, the pen took charge, and I watched it begin to write stories about Mowgli and animals, which later grew into the two Jungle Books ". With Josephine's arrival, Bliss Cottage was felt to be congested, so eventually the couple bought land... on a rocky hillside overlooking the Connecticut River...from Carrie's brother Beatty Balestier, and built their own house.
Kipling named the house "Naulakha" in honour of Wolcott and of their collaboration, and this time the name was spelled correctly. From his early years in Lahore (1882—87), Kipling had become enthused by the Mughal architecture especially the Naulakha pavilion situated in Lahore Fort, which eventually became an inspiration for the title of his novel as well as the house. The house still stands on Kipling Road, three miles (5 km) north of Brattleboro in Dummerston: a big, secluded, dark-green house, with shingled roof and sides, which Kipling called his "ship", and which brought him "sunshine and a mind at ease." His seclusion in Vermont, combined with his healthy "sane clean life", made Kipling both inventive and prolific.
In the short span of four years, he produced, in addition to the Jungle Books, the short story collection The Day's Work, the novel Captains Courageous, and a profusion of poetry, including the volume The Seven Seas. The collection of Barrack-Room Ballads, first published individually for the most part in 1890, which contains his poems "Mandalay" and "Gunga Din" was issued in March 1892. He especially enjoyed writing the Jungle Books...both masterpieces of imaginative writing...and enjoyed too corresponding with the many children who wrote to him about them.
The writing life in Naulakha was occasionally interrupted by visitors, including his father, who visited soon after his retirement in 1893, and British author Arthur Conan Doyle, who brought his golf-clubs, stayed for two days, and gave Kipling an extended golf lesson. Kipling seemed to take to golf, occasionally practising with the local Congregational minister, and even playing with red painted balls when the ground was covered in snow. However, the latter game was "not altogether a success because there were no limits to a drive; the ball might skid two miles (3 km) down the long slope to Connecticut river."
From all accounts, Kipling loved the outdoors, not least of whose marvels in Vermont was the turning of the leaves each fall. He described this moment in a letter: "A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods."
In February 1896, the couple's second daughter, Elsie, was born. By this time, according to several biographers, their marital relationship was no longer light-hearted and spontaneous. Although they would always remain loyal to each other, they seemed now to have fallen into set roles. In a letter to a friend who had become engaged around this time, the 30 year old Kipling offered this sombre counsel: marriage principally taught "the tougher virtues...such as humility, restraint, order, and forethought."
The Kiplings loved life in Vermont and might have lived out their lives there, were it not for two incidents...one of global politics, the other of family discord...that hastily ended their time there. By the early 1890s, the United Kingdom and Venezuela had long been locking horns over a border dispute involving British Guiana. Several times, the U.S. had offered to arbitrate, but in 1895 the new American Secretary of State Richard Olney upped the ante by arguing for the American "right" to arbitrate on grounds of sovereignty on the continent (see the Olney interpretation as an extension of the Monroe Doctrine). This raised hackles in the UK and before long the incident had snowballed into a major Anglo-American crisis, with talk of war on both sides.
Although the crisis led to greater U.S.-British cooperation, at the time Kipling was bewildered by what he felt was persistent anti-British sentiment in the U.S., especially in the press. He wrote in a letter that it felt like being "aimed at with a decanter across a friendly dinner table." By January 1896, he had decided, according to his official biographer, to end his family's "good wholesome life" in the U.S. and seek their fortunes elsewhere.
A family dispute became the final straw. For some time, the relations between Carrie and her brother Beatty Balestier had been strained on account of his drinking and insolvency. In May 1896, an inebriated Beatty ran into Kipling on the street and threatened him with physical harm. The incident led to Beatty's eventual arrest, but in the subsequent hearing, and the resulting publicity, Kipling's privacy was completely destroyed, and left him feeling both miserable and exhausted. In July 1896, a week before the hearing was to resume, the Kiplings hurriedly packed their belongings and left Naulakha, Vermont, and the U.S. for good.
Back in England, in September 1896, the Kiplings found themselves in Torquay on the coast of Devon, in a hillside home overlooking the sea. Although Kipling did not much care for his new house, whose design, he claimed, left its occupants feeling dispirited and gloomy, he managed to remain productive and socially active. Kipling was now a famous man, and in the previous two or three years, had increasingly been making political pronouncements in his writings. His son, John, was born in August 1897. He had also begun work on two poems, "Recessional" (1897) and "The White Man's Burden" (1899) which were to create controversy when published. Regarded by some as anthems for enlightened and duty-bound empire-building (that captured the mood of the Victorian age), the poems equally were regarded by others as propaganda for brazenfaced imperialism and its attendant racial attitudes; still others saw irony in the poems and warnings of the perils of empire.
Take up the White Man's burden...Send forth the best ye breed...Go, bind your sons to exileTo serve your captives' need;To wait, in heavy harness,On fluttered folk and wild...Your new-caught sullen peoples,Half devil and half child.... The White Man's Burden
There was also foreboding in the poems, a sense that all could yet come to naught.
Far-called, our navies melt away;On dune and headland sinks the fire:Lo, all our pomp of yesterdayIs one with Nineveh and Tyre!Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.Lest we forget - lest we forget!- Recessional
A prolific writer...nothing about his work was easily labelled...during his time in Torquay, he also wrote Stalky & Co., a collection of school stories (born of his experience at the United Services College in Westward Ho!) whose juvenile protagonists displayed a know-it-all, cynical outlook on patriotism and authority. According to his family, Kipling enjoyed reading aloud stories from Stalky & Co. to them, and often went into spasms of laughter over his own jokes.
In early 1898 Kipling and his family travelled to South Africa for their winter holiday, thus beginning an annual tradition which (excepting the following year) was to last until 1908. With his newly minted reputation as the poet of the Empire, Kipling was warmly received by some of the most influential politicians of the Cape Colony, including Cecil Rhodes, Sir Alfred Milner, and Leander Starr Jameson. In turn, Kipling cultivated their friendship and came to greatly admire all three men and their politics. The period 1898—1910 was a crucial one in the history of South Africa and included the Second Boer War (1899—1902), the ensuing peace treaty, and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Back in England, Kipling wrote poetry in support of the British cause in the Boer War and on his next visit to South Africa in early 1900, he helped start a newspaper, The Friend, for Lord Roberts for the British troops in Bloemfontein, the newly captured capital of the Orange Free State. Although his journalistic stint was to last only two weeks, it was the first time Kipling would work on a newspaper staff since he left The Pioneer in Allahabad more than ten years earlier and at The Friend he made lifelong friendships with Perceval Landon, H. A. Gwynne and others. He also wrote articles published more widely expressing his views on the conflict. Kipling penned an inscription for the Honoured Dead Memorial (Siege memorial) in Kimberley.
In 1902, Rudyard Kipling bought Batemans, a house built in 1634 and located in rural Burwash, East Sussex, England. The house, along with the surrounding buildings, the mill and 33 acres was purchased for £9,300. It had no bathroom, no running water upstairs and no electricity but Kipling loved it. "Behold us, lawful owners of a grey stone lichened house - A.D. 1634 over the door - beamed, panelled, with old oak staircase, and all untouched and unfaked. It is a good and peaceable place," he wrote in November 1902. "We have loved it ever since our first sight of it."
Kipling began collecting material for another of his children's classics, Just So Stories for Little Children. That work was published in 1902, and another of his enduring works, Kim, first saw the light of day the previous year.
On a visit to the United States in 1899, Kipling and his eldest daughter Josephine developed pneumonia, from which she eventually died. During World War I, he wrote a booklet The Fringes of the Fleet containing essays and poems on various nautical subjects of the war. Some of the poems were set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar.
Kipling wrote two science fiction short stories, With the Night Mail (1905) and As Easy As A. B. C (1912), both set in the 21st century in Kipling's Aerial Board of Control universe. These read like modern hard science fiction.
In 1934 he published a short story in Strand Magazine, "Proofs of Holy Writ", which postulated that William Shakespeare had helped to polish the prose of the King James Bible. In the non-fiction realm he also became involved in the debate over the British response to the rise in German naval power, publishing a series of articles in 1898 which were collected as A Fleet in Being.
Peak of his career
The first decade of the 20th century saw Kipling at the height of his popularity. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize citation said: "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." Nobel prizes had been established in 1901 and Kipling was the first English language recipient. At the award ceremony in Stockholm on 10 December 1907, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, C. D. af Wirsén, praised both Kipling and three centuries of English literature:
The Swedish Academy, in awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature this year to Rudyard Kipling, desires to pay a tribute of homage to the literature of England, so rich in manifold glories, and to the greatest genius in the realm of narrative that that country has produced in our times.
"Book-ending" this achievement was the publication of two connected poetry and story collections: Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies in 1906 and 1910 respectively. The latter contained the poem "If...". In a 1995 BBC opinion poll, it was voted the UK's favourite poem. This exhortation to self-control and stoicism is arguably Kipling's most famous poem.
Kipling sympathised with the anti-Home Rule stance of Irish Unionists. He was friends with Edward Carson, the Dublin-born leader of Ulster Unionism, who raised the Ulster Volunteers to oppose "Home Rule" in Ireland. Kipling wrote the poem "Ulster" in 1912 reflecting this. Kipling was a staunch opponent of Bolshevism, a position he shared with his friend Henry Rider Haggard. The two had bonded upon Kipling's arrival in London in 1889 largely on the strength of their shared opinions, and they remained lifelong friends.
Many have wondered why he was never made Poet Laureate. Some claim that he was offered the post during the interregnum of 1892-96 and turned it down.
At the beginning of World War I, like many other writers, Kipling wrote pamphlets which enthusiastically supported the UK's war aims.
According to the English magazine Masonic Illustrated, Kipling became a Freemason in about 1885, some six months prior to the usual minimum age of 21. He was initiated into Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782 in Lahore. He later wrote to the Times of London, "I was Secretary for some years of the Lodge . . . , which included Brethren of at least four creeds. I was entered [as an Apprentice] by a member from Brahmo Somaj, a Hindu, passed [to the degree of Fellow Craft] by a Mohammedan, and raised [to the degree of Master Mason] by an Englishman. Our Tyler was an Indian Jew." Kipling so loved his masonic experience that he memorialised its ideals in his famous poem, The Mother Lodge.
Kipling's only son John died in 1915 at the Battle of Loos. Kipling's son's death inspired his poem, "My Boy Jack", and the incident became the basis for the play My Boy Jack and its subsequent television adaptation, along with the documentary A Remembrance Tale. (In 1992 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reported that it had located John’s burial place, but there is controversy over whether this identification is correct and if the officer buried there is Jack.) After his son's death, he also wrote, "If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied." It is speculated that these words may reveal Kipling's feelings of guilt at his role in getting John a commission in the Irish Guards, despite his initially having been rejected by the army because of his poor eyesight, and his having exerted great influence to have his son accepted for officer training at the age of only 17.
Partly in response to this tragedy, Kipling joined Sir Fabian Ware's Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), the group responsible for the garden-like British war graves that can be found to this day dotted along the former Western Front and all the other locations around the world where troops of the British Empire lie buried. His most significant contribution to the project was his selection of the biblical phrase "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" (Sirach 44.14, KJV) found on the Stones of Remembrance in larger war graves and his suggestion of the phrase "Known unto God" for the gravestones of unidentified servicemen. He also wrote a two-volume history of the Irish Guards, his son's regiment, that was published in 1923 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of regimental history. Kipling's moving short story, "The Gardener", depicts visits to the war cemeteries, and the poem "The King's Pilgrimage" (1922) depicts a journey made by King George V, touring the cemeteries and memorials under construction by the Imperial War Graves Commission. With the increasing popularity of the automobile, Kipling became a motoring correspondent for the British press, and wrote enthusiastically of his trips around England and abroad, even though he was usually driven by a chauffeur.
In 1922, Kipling, who had made reference to the work of engineers in some of his poems and writings, was asked by a University of Toronto civil engineering professor for his assistance in developing a dignified obligation and ceremony for graduating engineering students. Kipling was very enthusiastic in his response and shortly produced both, formally entitled "The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer". Today, engineering graduates all across Canada are presented with an iron ring at the ceremony as a reminder of their obligation to society. The same year Kipling became Lord Rector of St Andrews University in Scotland, a three-year position.
Kipling kept writing until the early 1930s, but at a slower pace and with much less success than before. He died of a perforated duodenal ulcer on 18 January 1936, two days before George V, at the age of 70. (His death had in fact previously been incorrectly announced in a magazine, to which he wrote, "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers.")
Rudyard Kipling was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and his ashes were buried in Poets' Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, where many distinguished literary people are buried or commemorated.
In 2010, the International Astronomical Union approved that a crater on the planet Mercury would be named after Kipling - one of ten newly discovered impact craters observed by the MESSENGER spacecraft in 2008-9.
Various writers, most notably Edmund Candler, were very strongly influenced by the works of Kipling. T. S. Eliot, a very different poet, edited A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943), although in doing so he commented that "[Kipling] could write great poetry on occasions...even if only by accident." Kipling's stories for adults also remain in print and have garnered high praise from writers as different as Poul Anderson, Jorge Luis Borges, and George Orwell. His children's stories remain popular; and his Jungle Books have been made into several movies. The first was made by producer Alexander Korda, and other films have been produced by the Walt Disney Company. A number of his poems were set to music by Percy Grainger. A series of short films based on some of his stories was broadcast by the BBC in 1964. Kipling's work continues to be highly popular today. His poem If... was voted The Nations Favourite Poem in a BBC 1995 opinion poll.
Kipling features heavily in a standalone issue (#5) of Mike Carey's comic book The Unwritten, titled "How the Whale Became". The story provides a fictional interpretation of Kipling, interacting with Oscar Wilde and a 'Mr. Locke'. It goes on to describe the development of short stories from Kipling's Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, and his relationship with his family.
Links with Scouting
Kipling's links with the Scouting movements were strong. Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, used many themes from The Jungle Book stories and Kim in setting up his junior movement, the Wolf Cubs. These connections still exist today. Not only is the movement named after Mowgli's adopted wolf family, the adult helpers of Wolf Cub Packs adopt names taken from The Jungle Book, especially the adult leader who is called Akela after the leader of the Seeonee wolf pack.
Kipling's home at Burwash
After the death of Kipling's wife in 1939, his house, "Bateman's" in Burwash, East Sussex was bequeathed to the National Trust and is now a public museum dedicated to the author. Elsie, the only one of his three children to live past the age of eighteen, died childless in 1976, and bequeathed his copyrights to the National Trust. There is a thriving Kipling Society in the United Kingdom and also one in Australia.
Sir Kingsley Amis, the novelist and poet, wrote a poem entitled 'Kipling at Bateman's', which was the product of a visit to his house in Burwash - a village where Amis' father had lived briefly in the 1960s. Amis and a BBC television crew went to make a short film in a series of films about writers and their houses. According to Zachary Leader's 'The Life of Kingsley Amis':
'Bateman's made a strong negative impression on the whole crew, and Amis decided that he would dislike spending even twenty-four hours there. The visit is recounted in Rudyard Kipling and his World (1975), a short study of Kipling's Life and Writings. Amis's view of Kipling's career is like his view of Chesterton's: the writing that mattered was early, in Kipling's case from the period 1885-1902. After 1902, the year of the move to Bateman's, not only did the work decline but Kipling found himself increasingly at odds with the world, changes Amis attributes in part to the depressing atmosphere of the house.
Reputation in India
In modern-day India, whence he drew much of his material, his reputation remains controversial, especially amongst modern nationalists and some post-colonial critics. Other contemporary Indian intellectuals such as Ashis Nandy have taken a more nuanced view of his work. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, 1st Prime Minister of India, always described Kipling's novel Kim as his favourite book.
In November 2007, it was announced that his birthplace in the campus of the J J School of Art in Mumbai will be turned into a museum celebrating the author and his works.
Many older editions of Rudyard Kipling's books have a swastika printed on their covers associated with a picture of an elephant carrying a lotus flower. Since the 1930s this has raised the possibility of Kipling being mistaken for a Nazi-sympathiser, though the Nazi party did not adopt the swastika until 1920. Kipling's use of the swastika was based on the Indian sun symbol conferring good luck and well-being; the word derived from the Sanskrit word svastika meaning "auspicious object". He used the swastika symbol in both right- and left-facing orientations, and it was in general use at the time. Even before the Nazis came to power, Kipling ordered the engraver to remove it from the printing block so that he should not be thought of as supporting them. Less than one year before his death Kipling gave a speech (titled "An Undefended Island") to The Royal Society of St George on 6 May 1935 warning of the danger Nazi Germany posed to the UK.