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Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865 in Bombay.
His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was a professor of architectural
sculpture, curator of the Lahore Museum, a painter and an illustrator of
some note. Rudyard’s parents were English.
As a child Rudyard was quick to learn, alert in games and in solving
puzzles. He spent his childhood in Lahore. The boy was the idol of the
Hindoo servants. Hindoo was the first language he spoke.
At 6 young Kipling was taken to England and educated at an English
College in North Devon. From March 1882 until June 1883 he was
editor-in-chief of the school paper “The Chronicle”. This training was
the natural step to the editorial position, which he later occupied.
As far as his studies were concerned, he was not brilliant in
mathematics, but in history he was very well. When he went back to India
in 1883, he took with him the gold medal of the college for a prize
essay on history.
Returning to India, Kipling engaged in journalism. At 17 he became
sub-editor of the Lahore “Civil and Military Gazette”. At 21 he
published his first volume. Departmental Ditties, a small book of verse.
A year later he attracted public attention as a story-teller with Plain
Tales from the Hills. Before he was 24he had brought out six small
collections of stories, which showed his mastery in the form. Among
these early narratives some of the best are :”Soldiers Three”, “The
Phantom Rickshaw” and “Wee Willie Winkie”. These and the stories, which
followed, were astonishing in their vigour, brilliant colour, accurate
observation and , above all, their remarkable inventiveness. Here was a
new master of fiction.
All his life Kipling was admired by the people he came in touch with. He
was respected for his generosity, sense of humor and pleasant ways. He
was said to be extremely modest.
Rudyard loved India and its inhabitants. His respect for the country
and for the peoples of Asia remained with him throughout his life and
coloured much of his writing. But still he never forgot that he was a
white man and an Englishman.
Kipling’s talent was quickly recognized in India, but it was not till
his books reached England that give true rank was appreciated and
Between 1887 and 1899 Kipling traveled around the world. He visited
China, Japan and lived for a few years in America, where he married an
American-Caroline Starr Balestier.
During this period he wrote several of his most popular works, which
took the reading public by storm. These were his stories for children,
which became classics: The Jungle Books (1894-1895), Captains Courageous
(1897) and Just So Stories (1902). He appealed equally, to youth and age
with Kim (1901), Puck Of Pook’s Hill (1906) and Rewards And Fairies
(1910).These works are fine examples of the modern treatment of history.
Kipling had a profound sense oh history and his history was always
human, and human of the common people, never of kings and aristocrats.
During the South African war (1899-1902) Kipling supported the policy of
British expansion that reacted on his literature not to its advantage.
However, he saw the dangers of imperialism, he was a champion of the
soldier and the seaman, and many times took the side of the natives of
India, fully aware of their suffering under imperialism.
At the end of his life Kipling came to hate war, which formerly he had
thought to be inevitable. His hatred of war is evident in such works as
“Mary Postgate” (1915) and “”The Gardener” (1926).
The last decade of the 19th century was Rudyard Kipling’s most mature
period, while the beginning of the 20th century saw the decline of his
talent. The works of the later period are inferior, as a whole, to those
written at the end of the 19th century.
In 1936 Kipling was at work on a collection of autobiographical notes
when he died on January 17, a few weeks after his 70th birthday. A year
after his death there appeared Something of Myself , a collection of
autobiographical notes containing memoirs, and that “something “ about
himself, which Kipling was willing to disclose.
Rudyard Kipling achieved great popularity among ordinary people as well
as recognition by prominent writers, such as Oscar Wilde, Somerset
Maugham, Bertolt Brecht and many others. His works are highly estimated
by many readers, both children and adults.
A talented story-teller, deeply concerned in the burning problems of his
time, Kipling towered above many of his contemporaries. In 1907 he
received the Nobel Prize for literature; he was the first writer and the
first Englishman to whom this prize was awarded.
The charm of his stories lies in exciting plots, the variety of
characters, and the vigour of narration. He not only discovered fresh
scenes and fresh subject matter, he explored new territories and
established the “true romance” of bridge-builders, wireless operators,
engineers, people familiar and un familiar up and down the world.
Rudyard Kipling was one of those rare writers, who are equally at home
in prose and in verse. His most attractive qualities as a poet are his
excellent rhymes, the swinging rhythms and the music of his verse. He
revived the ballad and the folk-tale. The lines of his verse can
communicate the rapid beating of the heart, the sound of galloping
horses’ hoofs, the tramp of marching soldiers.