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Rudyard Joseph Kipling
(1865-1936)

Rudyard Joseph Kipling, born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865, made a significant contribution to English Literature in various genres including poetry, short story and novel. His birth took place in an affluent family with his father holding the post of Professor of Architectural Sculpture at the Bombay School of Art and his mother coming from a family of accomplished women.

He spent his early childhood in India where an ‘aya’(1) took care of him and where under her influence he came in direct contact with the Indian culture and traditions.

His parents decided to send him to England for education and so at the young age of five he started living in England with Madam Rosa, the landlady of the lodge he lived in, where for the next six years he lived a life of misery due to the mistreatment — beatings and general victimization — he faced there. Due to this sudden change in environment and the evil treatment he received, he suffered from insomnia(2) for the rest of his life. This played an important part in his literary imagination (Sandison A. G.). His parents removed him from the rigidly Calvinistic foster home and placed him in a private school at the age of twelve. The English schoolboy code of honor and duty deeply affected his views in later life, especially when it involved loyalty to a group or a team.

Returning to India in 1882 he worked as a newspaper reporter and a part-time writer and this helped him to gain a rich experience of colonial life which he later presented in his stories and poems (Martinez, Gabriel A.). In 1886 he published his first volume of poetry, ‘Departmental Ditties’ and between 1887 and 1889 he published six volumes of short stories set in and concerned with the India he had come to know and love so well. When he returned to England he found himself already recognized and acclaimed as a brilliant writer. Over the immediately following years he published some of his most exquisite works including his most acclaimed poem “Recessional” and most famed novel “Kim”. In 1907 Kipling won the Nobel prize in literature in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterized his writings. Death of both his children, Josephine and John, deeply affected his life. Both these incidents left a profound impression on his life, which his works published in the subsequent years after their deaths displays. Between 1919 and 1932 he traveled intermittently, and continued to publish stories, poems, sketches and historical works though his output dwindled. As he grew older his works display his preoccupation with physical and psychological strain, breakdown, and recovery. In 1936, plagued by illness, he passed away into the world beyond, leaving behind a legacy that will live for centuries to come.


The Nobel Prize in Literature 1907

[Nobel stamp]

‘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.’

Kipling's works span over five decades, with Tennyson and Browning still writing and Hardy and Yeats unheard of, when his first work Schoolboy Lyrics hit the press (Page, Norman). He wrote during the period now known as the Victorian Age. According to English and Western Literature, conservatism, optimism and self-assurance marked the poetry of this age. Though Kipling's works achieved literary fame during his early years, as he grew older his woks faced enormous amount of literary criticism. His poems dealt with racial and imperialistic topics which attracted a lot of critics. Critics also condemned the fact that unlike the popular model of poetry, Kipling’ poetry did not have an underlying meaning to it and that interpreting it required no more than one reading. Maguills Critical Survey of Poetry indicates that some critics even attributed the qualities of coarseness and crudeness to his poetry. As Kipling grew older his poetry came under even more scrutiny and doubts began to arise about poetic abilities. These views of the critics come as a surprise due to the fact that even in face of his dwindling reputation in literary circles, his popularity among the masses persisted without change. In fact due to his ability to relate to the layman as well as the literary elite through his works, he joined a select group of authors who reached a worldwide audience of considerable diversity. Kipling's reputation started a revival course after T. S. Eliot's essay on his poetic works where Eliot describes Kipling's verse as “great verse” that sometimes unintentionally changes into poetry. Following Eliot's lead many other critics reanalyzed Kipling's verse and revived his poetic reputation to the merited level. In his lifetime Kipling went from the unofficial Poet Laureate of Great Britan to one of the most denounced poet in English Literary History. In contrast to the path his reputation took, Rudyard Kipling improved as a poet as his career matured and by the time of his death Kipling had compiled one of the most diverse collection of poetry in English Literature.

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1) aya — Indian word for a babysitter. [back]

2) Insomnia — Chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time. [back]

Selected works:
  1. SCHOOLBOY LYRICS, 1881
  2. ECHOES, 1884 (with A. Kipling)
  3. QUARTETTE, 1885 (with A., A. and J. Kipling)
  4. DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES, 1886
  5. PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS, 1888
  6. IN BLACK AND WHITE, 1888
  7. THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS, 1888
  8. UNDER THE DEODARS, 1888
  9. THE PHATOM RICKSHAW, 1888
  10. THE LIGHT THAT FAILED, 1890
  11. THE COURTING OF DINAH SHADD AND OTHER STORIES, 1890
  12. INDIAN TALES, 1890
  13. IN BLACK AND WHITE, 1890
  14. SOLDIER'S THREE, 1890
  15. THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS, 1890
  16. UNDER THE DEAODARS, 1890
  17. MINE OWN PEOPLE, 1891
  18. LIFE'S HANDICAP, 1891
  19. AMERICAN NOTES, 1891
  20. LETTERS OF MARQUE, 1891
  21. THE SMITH ADMINISTRATION, 1891
  22. THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT AND OTHER PLACES, 1891
  23. THE NAULAHKA, 1892 (with W. Balestier)
  24. MANY INVENTIONS, 1893
  25. THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK, 1895
  26. OUT OF INDIA, 1895
  27. SOLDIER TALES, 1896
  28. THE SEVEN SEAS, 1896
  29. THE KIPLING BIRTHDAY BOOK, 1896
  30. DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES AND OTHER VERSES, 1896
  31. RECESSIONAL, 1897
  32. THE DAY'S WORK, 1898
  33. AN ALMANAC OF TWELVE SPORTS, 1898
  34. A FLEET IN BEING, 1898
  35. STALKY AND CO, 1899
  36. FROM THE SEA TO SEA, 1899
  37. RECESSIONAL AND OTHER POEMS, 1899
  38. THE ABSENT MINDED BEGGAR, 1899
  39. THE KIPLING READER, 1900
  40. WITH NUMBER THREE, 1900
  41. OCCASIONAL POEMS, 1900
  42. JUST SO STORIES, 1902
  43. THE FIVE NATIONS, 1903
  44. TRAFFICS AND DISCOVERIES, 1904
  45. THE MUSE AMONG THE MOTORS, 1904
  46. PUCK OF POOK'S HILL, 1906
  47. COLLECTED VERSE, 1907
  48. LETERS TO THE FAMILY, 1908
  49. ACTIONS AND REACTIONS, 1909
  50. ABAFT THE FUNNEL, 1909
  51. KIPLING STORIES AND POEMS EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW, 1909
  52. REWARDS AND FAIRIES, 1910
  53. A HISTORY OF ENGLAND, 1911 (with C.R.L. Fletcher, verse only)
  54. COLLECTED VERSE, 1912
  55. THE KIPLING READER, 1912
  56. SONGS FROM BOOKS, 1912
  57. THE HARBOUR WATCH, 1913
  58. THE NEW ARMY, 1914
  59. FRANCE AT WAR, 1915
  60. THE FRINGES OF THE FLEET, 1915
  61. TALES OF 'THE TRADE', 1916
  62. SEA WARFARE, 1916
  63. THE WAR IN THE MOUNTAISN, 1917
  64. A DIVERSITY OF CREATURES, 1917
  65. THE EYES OF ASIA, 1918
  66. TO FIGHTING AMERICANS, 1918
  67. TWENTY POEMS, 1918
  68. THE GRAVES OF THE FALLEN, 1919
  69. THE YEARS BETWEEN, 1919
  70. VERSE: INCLUSIVE EDITION, 1919
  71. LETTERS OF TRAVEL, 1920
  72. SELECTED STORIES, 1921
  73. A KIPLING ANTHOLOGY, 1922
  74. LAND AND SEA TALES, 1923
  75. THE IRISH GUARDS IN THE GREAT WAR, 1923
  76. SONGS FOR YOUTH, 1924
  77. A CHOISE OF SONGS, 1925
  78. WORKS, 1925-26 (26 vols.)
  79. DEBITS AND CREDITS, 1926
  80. SEA AND SUSSEX, 1926
  81. ST. ANDREWS, 1926 (with Walter de la Mare)
  82. SONGS OF THE SEA, 1927
  83. A BOOK OF WORDS, 1928
  84. THE ONE VOL. KIPLING, 1928
  85. SELECTED STORIES, 1929
  86. POEMS 1886-1929, 1929 (3 vols.)
  87. THY SERVANT A DOG, TOLD BY BOOTS, 1930
  88. HUMOROUS TALES, 1931
  89. SELECTED POEMS, 1931
  90. EAST OF SUEZ, 1931
  91. ANIMAL STORIES, 1932
  92. LIMITS AND RENEWALS, 1932
  93. ALL THE MOWGLI STORIES, 1933
  94. SOUVENIRS OF FRANCE, 1933
  95. COLLECTED DOG STORIES, 1934
  96. A KIPLING PAGEANT, 1935
  97. HAM AND THE PORCUPINE, 1935
  98. SOMETHING OF MYSELF, 1937
  99. COMPLETE WORKS, 1937-39 (35 vols.)
  100. SIXTY POEMS, 1939
  101. MORE SELECTED STORIES, 1940
  102. VERSE: DEFINITIVE EDITION, 1940
  103. A KIPLING TREASURY, 1940
  104. SO SHALL YE REEP, 1941
  105. COLLECTED WORKS, 1941 (28 vols.)
  106. A CHOISE OF KIPLING' VERSE, 1941 (ed. T.S. Eliot)
  107. TWENTY-ONE TALE, 1946
  108. TEN STORIES, 1947
  109. A CHOICE OF KIPLING'S PROSE, 1952 (ed. by W. Somerset Maugham)
  110. KIPLING: A SELECTION OF HIS STORIES AND POEMS, 1956
  111. SIXTY POEMS, 1957
  112. TREASURY OF SHORT STORIES, 1957
  113. (SHORT STORIES), 1960
  114. KIPLING STORIES, 1960
  115. THE BEST SHORT STORIES, 1961
  116. THE KIPLING SAMPLER, 1962
  117. FAMOUS TALES OF INDIA, 1962
  118. LETTERS FROM JAPAN, 1962
  119. PEARLS FROM KIPLING, 1963
  120. A KIPLING ANTHOLOGY, 1964
  121. PHANTOMS AND FANTASIES, 1965
  122. RUDYARD KIPLING TO RIDER HAGARD: 1965
  123. THE BEST OF IPLING, 1968
  124. STORIES AND POEMS, 1970
  125. SHORT STORIES, 1971
  126. TWENTY-ONE TALES, 1972
  127. THE COMPLETE BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS, 1973
  128. TALES OF EAST AND WEST, 1973
  129. KIPLING'S ENGLISH HISTORY: POEMS, 1974
  130. KIPLING: A SELECTION, 1977
  131. KIPLING'S HORACE, 1978
  132. AMERICAN NOTES, 1981
  133. THE PORTABLE KIPLING, 1982
  134. O BLOVED KIDS, 1983 (ed. E.L. Gilbert)
  135. EARLY VERSE BY RUDYARD KIPLING 1879-1889, 1986
  136. KIPLING'S INDIA, 1987
  137. KIPLING'S KINGDOM, 1987
  138. THE ILLUSTRATED KIPLING, 1987
  139. A COICE OF KIPLING, 1987
  140. KIPLING'S JAPAN, 1988
  141. RUDYARD KIPLING: SOMETHING OF MYSELF AND OTHER BIOGRAPHICAL WRITINGS, 1990 (ed. by Thomas Pinney)
  142. THE LETTERS OF RYDYARD KIPLING: 1900-10, 1996
  143. THE LETTERS OF RUDYARD KIPLING: 1911-1919, 1999

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The beautifull site with many biographies:
URL: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/
The author of the biography: Petri Liukkonen, Copyright © 2000
E-mail: petri.liukkonen@kuusankoski.fi
Web-design and maintenance: Ari Pesonen, Copyright © 2000
E-mail: postmaster@authorscalendar.net
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Original of this work is on the:
URL: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/kipling.htm

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Formatted by: O. Dag
Last modified on: 2015-09-24


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