Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, Maharashtra, India, the son of John Lockwood Kipling, a museum director and author and illustrator. This was at the height of the “British Raj”, so he was brought up by Indian nurses (“ayahs”), who taught him something of the beliefs and tongues of India. He was sent “home” to England at the age of six to live with a foster mother, who treated him very cruelly. He then spent five formative years at a minor public school, the United Services College at Westward Ho! which inspired “Stalky & Co.”. He returned to India as a journalist in 1882. By 1890 he had published, in India, a major volume of verse, “Departmental Ditties”, and over 70 Indian tales in English, including “Plain Tales from the Hills” and the six volumes of the “Indian Railway Library”. When he arrived in London in October 1889, at the age of 23, he was already a literary celebrity. In 1892 he married Caroline Balestier, the daughter of an American lawyer, and set up house with her in Brattleboro, Vermont, where they lived for four years. While in Vermont he wrote the two “Jungle Books” and “Captains Courageous”. In 1901 he wrote “Kim” and in 1902 “The Just So Stories” that explained things like “How the Camel Got Its Hump”. From 1902 they made their home in Sussex, England. He subsequently published many collections of stories, including “A Diversity of Creatures”, “Debits and Credits” (1926) and “Limits and Renewals” (1932). These are now thought by many to contain some of his finest writing, although his introspection may well have been influenced by the death of their only son in the First World War. Although vilified by some as “the poet of British imperialism” in the past, nowadays he may be regarded as a great story-teller with an extraordinary gift for writing of peoples of many cultures and classes and backgrounds from the inside.

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