Ondertexts
Rudyard Kipling
Search

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling Rudyard Kipling[2†]

Rudyard Kipling, born as Joseph Rudyard Kipling on December 30, 1865, in Bombay now Mumbai, India, was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist[1†][2†]. He is chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children[1†]. His works of fiction include the Jungle Book duology (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)[1†][2†]. His poems include “Mandalay” (1890), “Gunga Din” (1890), “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (1919), “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), and “If—” (1910)[1†][2†]. Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, becoming the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay now Mumbai, India[1†][2†]. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an artist and scholar who had considerable influence on his son’s work[1†]. His mother was Alice Macdonald[1†]. Two of Alice’s sisters married the highly successful 19th-century painters Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter, while a third married Alfred Baldwin and became the mother of Stanley Baldwin, later prime minister[1†]. These connections were of lifelong importance to Kipling[1†].

Much of Kipling’s childhood was unhappy[1†]. At the age of six, Kipling was taken to England by his parents and was left for five years at a foster home at Southsea, the horrors of which he described in the story “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” (1888)[1†]. He then went on to the United Services College at Westward Ho, north Devon, a new, inexpensive, and inferior boarding school[1†]. It haunted Kipling for the rest of his life—but always as the glorious place celebrated in Stalky & Co. (1899) and related stories: an unruly paradise in which the highest goals of English education are met amid a tumult of teasing, bullying, and beating[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Rudyard Kipling’s literary career began in earnest when he returned to India in 1882[3†]. He worked for Anglo-Indian newspapers, writing poetry and fiction in his spare time[3†][4†]. His first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties, was published in 1886[3†]. However, it was his short stories that brought him early fame[3†]. His first anthology of short stories, Plain Tales from the Hills, was published in 1888 and included the story "The Man Who Would Be King"[3†][5†].

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kipling was among the United Kingdom’s most popular writers[3†][2†]. His works of fiction include the Jungle Book duology (The Jungle Book, 1894; The Second Jungle Book, 1895), Kim (1901), the Just So Stories (1902) and many short stories[3†][2†]. His poems include “Mandalay” (1890), “Gunga Din” (1890), “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (1919), “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), and “If—” (1910)[3†][2†]. He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story[3†][2†].

Kipling’s narrative gift was versatile and luminous, leading one critic to note a "versatile and luminous narrative gift"[3†][2†]. His children’s books are considered classics[3†][2†]. Henry James, a contemporary of Kipling, said, "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known"[3†][2†].

In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date[3†][2†][1†][3†]. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood, but declined both[3†][2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Rudyard Kipling’s literary career was prolific, encompassing a variety of genres including short stories, novels, and poems. His works are celebrated for their innovative style and storytelling techniques[6†][7†].

Kipling’s works are characterized by their unique narrative style and innovative storytelling techniques[6†][7†]. His ability to weave complex narratives and create memorable characters has cemented his place as one of the most influential writers of his time[6†][7†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Rudyard Kipling’s literary career began in journalism, but his prose sketches and verse brought him early fame[8†]. He wrote several novels, most lastingly Kim (1901), and he also wrote works of history, including a study of his son’s military regiment from World War I[8†]. In his lifetime as well as posthumously, however, his fame depended upon his poetry and short stories, both of which he wrote for adult audiences and for children[8†].

By his early twenties, Rudyard Kipling had become one of the best-known writers in the English language[8†]. His first poems and stories were written and published in India, but his popularity quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world and beyond[8†]. Although he published several novels, the short-story form proved to be his most successful métier[8†]. Drawing upon his experiences in India, many of his early stories featured the adventures of ordinary soldiers, junior officers, and civil officials, and his use of dialect was a recognized feature of his literary technique[8†].

Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, he also received honorary degrees from many universities[8†]. Kipling wrote extensively about the benefits of the United Kingdom’s paramount position in the world, and over time his public persona was perceived to be that of a political reactionary[8†]. Although some of his finest short stories were written in the last two decades of his life, by that time, to many of his contemporaries, he had become yesterday’s man, irrevocably associated with political imperialism, a dying creed even before his death in 1936[8†]. After his death, however, his stories received much critical study and acclaim, and Kipling is considered to be one of the major practitioners of the short-story art ever to write in English[8†].

Kipling’s early stories both satisfied and glorified the Englishman in India[8†]. The empire builder, the man who devotes his life to “civilize the sullen race,” comes off in glowing colors, as in the story “The Bridge Builders”[8†]. Some of his best stories skillfully blend the exotic and the bizarre; the early “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888), which is about two drifters and their fantastic dream to carve out a kingdom for themselves in Central Asia, is an excellent example of such a story[8†]. Some stories reflect the pain, suffering, and dark melancholy of Kipling’s later life[8†].

Personal Life

Rudyard Kipling married Caroline Balestier, the sister of an American friend, in 1892[4†]. After their marriage, they moved to the United States, where her family lived[4†]. They had three children, one of whom, Josephine, tragically passed away at a young age[4†][9†]. This loss deeply affected Kipling and his family, and they subsequently returned to England, settling in Burwash, Sussex[4†][9†].

Kipling’s personal life was marked by both joy and tragedy. The death of his son John during World War I was another significant personal loss[4†][10†]. These personal experiences not only hardened Kipling but also influenced his political beliefs[4†][9†].

Despite these personal tragedies, Kipling continued to write until the early 1930s[4†][10†]. His personal experiences and the world around him greatly influenced his work, making it a reflection of his life and times[4†][10†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Rudyard Kipling’s legacy is complex and multifaceted. As an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist, he is chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children[1†]. His works, such as the Jungle Book and “If—”, have become classics and continue to be widely read and appreciated[1†][11†].

Kipling’s influence extends beyond literature. His portrayal of the British Empire and colonialism has shaped perceptions and understanding of these historical periods[1†][12†]. His work has been reassessed over time, with changing views on imperialism and colonialism influencing how his work is interpreted[1†][12†].

Despite the controversies surrounding his political views, Kipling’s impact on literature is undeniable. He was a pioneer in the art of the short story, and his narrative gift has been described as "a versatile and luminous narrative gift"[1†]. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, becoming the first English-language writer to receive the prize[1†].

However, Kipling’s legacy is not without its controversies. His portrayal of British imperialism has been criticized, and his work has been reassessed in the light of post-colonial studies[1†][12†]. Despite these controversies, Kipling remains a significant cultural icon[1†][13†].

In conclusion, Rudyard Kipling’s legacy is a testament to his literary genius, even as it continues to evoke debate and discussion[1†][14†]. His work, marked by its vivid storytelling and complex exploration of British imperialism, continues to influence writers and readers alike[1†][12†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Rudyard Kipling: British writer [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Rudyard Kipling [website] - link
  3. The Nobel Prize - Rudyard Kipling – Biographical [website] - link
  4. BBC History - Historic Figures - Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) [website] - link
  5. Britannica - Rudyard Kipling summary [website] - link
  6. Wikipedia (English) - Rudyard Kipling bibliography [website] - link
  7. Encyclopedia.com - Kipling, Rudyard [website] - link
  8. eNotes - Rudyard Kipling Analysis [website] - link
  9. KidsWorldFun - Rudyard Kipling, Facts On Great Personalities [website] - link
  10. GradeSaver - Rudyard Kipling Biography [website] - link
  11. The Nobel Prize - Rudyard Kipling – Facts [website] - link
  12. Inquiries Journal - Rudyard Kipling's Literary and Historical Legacy [website] - link
  13. Springer Link - Kipling and Beyond: Patriotism, Globalisation and Postcolonialism [website] - link
  14. BookPage - The complicated legacy of Rudyard Kipling [website] - link
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0; additional terms may apply.
Ondertexts® is a registered trademark of Ondertexts Foundation, a non-profit organization.