Biography of Author Rudyard Kipling Part 1

About the famous writer Rudyard Kipling, biography and history of the author.

GALLERY OF PROMINENT PERFORMING AND CREATIVE ARTISTS

RUDYARD KIPLING (1865-1936)

The problem with being spokesman for a generation is that the next generation inevitably has its own spokesman, and then one is passvĀ©. Out of touch, the new generation says. An anachronism. Rudyard Kipling was the spokesman for the British Empire upon which the sun never set, but imperialism went out of fashion, and his world left him behind.

He was born in Bombay, India, Dec. 30, 1865, and named Joseph Rudyard, the latter after the lake in Staffordshire where his parents became engaged. His father, Lockwood Kipling, was a sculptor and architectural designer, head of the Bombay School of Art and later curator of the Lahore Museum.

Like most British children in 19th-century India, Rudyard had his ayah (nursemaid), who pampered and spoiled him, and with whom he spoke Hindustani, the language in which he thought and dreamed for the first three years of his life. At age six, because his parents feared the hazards of the Indian climate and the prevalence of disease more than they did the emotional effects of familial separation, Rudyard and his younger sister, Trix, were sent back to England and "placed" with a family for an undetermined period of time. No adequate explanation was given to the children, who felt abandoned, and no prior investigation was made of the foster family, which turned out to be fanatically religious, mean-spirited, and often brutal, especially to Rudyard. The children did not see their parents for the next six years.

At age 12 Rudyard was enrolled in a new and somewhat inferior boarding school with the unlikely name of United Services College of Westward Ho! in Devonshire. One of his classmates remembered him later as a "cheery, capering, podgy little fellow." He was teased about his thick-lensed glasses (without which he was nearly blind) and bullied in the usual British public-school fashion, but he adapted and eventually made friends with some of the boys. Later he used the experience as raw material for his exuberant Stalky and Co. (1899).

Rather than go to university, Rudyard rejoined his parents at Lahore and took a job with the local paper. For the next seven years he worked as a journalist and at the same time observed and wrote about both the Anglo-Indian society and the pageantry and color of the native Indian culture. He published Departmental Ditties (satiric verse), Plain Tales from the Hills, and six paperback volumes of short stories full of vivid and racy characters from both the civil and military life, which were sold in railroad stations across India and brought their author fame. Gradually the works made their way back to England, where he was hailed as "a rocket out of the magic East."

At 24 Kipling went to London via Japan, San Francisco, and New York, at which time he formed the first of his increasingly negative opinions of America when he discovered that a publishing company had pirated his books (international copyright protection had not yet been established in the U.S.). Although he began his London sojourn in a garret, he managed before the first year was out to publish (or republish) 80 short stories, a volume of verse, and a novel. The Light That Failed--all of which captivated the country. Kipling became the interpreter of the lives of the British ruling class in India. He vividly portrayed to those who stayed at home the heat, the disease, and the boredom, as well as the idle frivolity of the English matron and the tedium and brutality of life for the common barracks soldier, in the days before refrigeration and inoculation against tropical diseases.

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