Kipling gained renown throughout the world as a poet and storyteller. He was also known as a leading supporter of the British Empire. As apparent from his stories and poems, Kipling interested himself in the romance and adventure which he found in Great Britain’s colonial expansion.
Kipling was born on Dec.30, 1865, in Bombay, where his father directed an art school. He learned Hindi from his nurse, and he also learned stories of jungle animals. At six, he was sent to school in England, but until he was 12, poor health kept him from attending. At 17, Kipling returned to India and soon became a journalist. He wrote sketches and verses which at first were used as fillers for unused editorial space. Many were later published in Departmental Ditties (1886). At this time, he also created his soldiers three, and Irishman, a Cockney, and a Yorkshireman, the bases for his 1888 humorous tale Soldiers Three.
In 1889, Kipling return to England. In the 1890s, he developed a great interest in folk legends and animal myths. The Jungle Book (1894) and Just So Stories (1902) give the wit and wisdom of the animals who can talk. The stories of Mowgli, a man-cub who was the central character in The Jungle Book, brought Kipling great popularity in England and the United States.
Kipling composed many of his poems while living for several years in the United States in the mid-1890s. His poems became famous for their lively, swinging rhythm. Typical are Gunga Din and Mandalay. The first tells of the courage of an Indian boy who is shot while carrying water to British soldiers in the thick of battle. Mandalay tries to capture the strange atmosphere of the east.
In 1896, Kipling returned to England from the United States. By then, he was a controversial figure because of his views toward empire, which many misunderstood. In many of his works, Kipling seemed to imply that it was the duty of Great Britain to carry the white man’s burden by civilizing backward races. But he was not just the shallow imperialist that his critics tried to make him appear. His famous poem, Recessional, written in 1897 in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, contains a strong warning to the British not to exploit other races.
In 1900, Kipling went to South Africa to report the Boer War for an English newspaper. In 1905, Kipling completed Kim, his first major novel. In it he gives a colorful and dramatic picture of the complicated life of the Indian People, as seen through the eyes of the poor orphan boy, Kim. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel prize for literature.
Before World War I, Kipling became active in politics. he widely lectured and wrote for the British cause both before and during the war. His only son was killed in World War I. After the war, Kipling wrote Songs for Youth (1925), another of his highly popular works.
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