Early Life in India
Rudyard Kipling came into the world on December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an English art teacher, while his mother, Alice Kipling, hailed from Scotland. The first six years of Rudyard's life were spent in India, which he fondly remembered as the best years of his life. However, in 1871, when he was just six years old, his life took a dramatic turn. His mother made the heart-wrenching decision to send him to England, where he lived with a foster family. This separation from his birthplace deeply affected him. Tragically, in 1910, his father passed away.
England offered education but also brought severe trials for young Rudyard. He resided with a foster family and attended a boarding school in Devon. These six years were marked by brutality, neglect, and even torture at the hands of Mrs. Holloway, his foster mother. In spite of these hardships, Rudyard sought solace in books, drawing inspiration from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Daniel Defoe. Unfortunately, the cruel lady did not allow him to read in peace, and by the age of eleven, he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Thankfully, a visitor noticed Rudyard's suffering and informed his mother, who immediately came to his rescue. She helped him recover from the trauma he had endured. Rudyard continued his education in Devon and not only honed his writing skills but also became the editor of the school newspaper.
Marriage and Family
In 1890, during a visit to London, Rudyard Kipling met Carrie Balestier, the sister of Wolcott Balestier, an American editor and writer. The two fell in love and were married on January 18, 1892. They embarked on a honeymoon journey to Japan and the United States before settling permanently in Vermont. The couple welcomed three children: John, Josephine, and Elsie. Tragically, only Elsie survived, as Josephine succumbed to influenza and John lost his life in battle in September 1915. The loss of his sons deeply affected Kipling, and he expressed his profound grief in his poem, 'My Boy Jack.'
Passing Away and Legacy
Despite the trials he faced in life, Rudyard Kipling went on to achieve great renown among literary circles. He passed away on January 18, 1936, at the age of seventy. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in London, and his ashes were interred in the Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey.
Key Life Facts
- He was named after the Rudyard Lake area, which his parents found beautiful.
- In 1907, Rudyard Kipling became the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- He also received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1926.
Rudyard Kipling's Remarkable Literary Career
Early Writing and Career
Rudyard Kipling, a distinguished English poet and writer, faced adversity in his life, but his challenges did not deter his literary pursuits. His return to India in 1892 marked a turning point in his career. He contributed to Anglo-Indian newspapers and published thirty-nine short stories in the local newspaper, Gazette, between November 1886 and June 1887. This was followed by six collections of short stories in 1888.
Kipling had a profound admiration for British soldiers, whom he celebrated in works like "Soldiers Three," "Barrack-Room Ballads," and "Plain Tales from the Hills." In 1894, he penned his classic children's work, "The Jungle Book," which remains beloved in children's literature. His other notable works include "Captain Courageous," "The Seven Seas," "Puck of Pook's Hill," "The Day's Work," and "Actions and Reactions." During World War I, he also wrote propaganda books.
Rudyard Kipling's writing style was characterized by allusive imagery, symbolic structures, hyperbole, metaphors, sound devices, and irony. His works garnered global recognition for their imaginative ideas and artistic expression. In "The Jungle Book," he masterfully portrayed the magical aspects of nature intertwined with unique character concepts. His poems like "If," "Gunga Din," and "My Boy Jack" explore themes of ethics, human spirit, positivity, and the creative power of humanity. His recurring themes encompassed masculinity, manhood, life, courage, perseverance, death, and the mistreatment of soldiers.
Rudyard Kipling's Enduring Literary Works
Rudyard Kipling's poetry left a lasting impact, and some of his most famous poems include:
- "If: A Father's Advice to His Son"
- "Gunga Din"
- "The White Men's Burden"
- "Epitaphs of War"
- "The Female of the Species"
Other Notable Works
Beyond poetry, Kipling ventured into novels, contributing to the world of literature with famous works like:
- "Captains Courageous"
- "The Light that Failed"
- "Stalky and Co."
Rudyard Kipling's Literary Influence
Rudyard Kipling's critical insights, his views on imperialism, and his distinctive compositions have left a profound impact on American and international literature. His unique writing approach and expressive style earned him a place among the greatest poets and writers. His ideas continue to inspire writers, with many considering him a guiding light in both prose and poetry.
Here are some of Rudyard Kipling's memorable quotes:
"Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." (From "The Jungle Book")
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too." (From "If: A Father’s Advice to His Son")
"You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din." (From "Gunga Din")
"You must learn to forgive a man when he’s in love. He’s always a nuisance." (From "The Light That Failed")
Let's Talk About It
Now that we've delved into the life and literary contributions of Rudyard Kipling, which of his poems or stories do you find most captivating, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.