Biography of Author Rudyard Kipling Part 2

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



By 25 Kipling was famous. He was not handsome (short, dark, with a thick mustache and heavy glasses), not the proper gentleman (no Oxford or Cambridge degree), and he had been jilted in love by Florence Garrard, a painter he had first met at the age of 14. It was a one-sided romance; Flo preferred her canvases to the young author's company. He felt himself an outsider in London. Immediately after publication of Barrack-Room Ballads in 1892, he set off for a trip around the world. But when news of the death of a close American friend reached him, he changed his mind, and within 10 days of his return to London he had proposed to, been accepted by, and married this friend's sister. From that point on Caroline Balestier managed his life, mothering and protecting him. Some of his best work--The Jungle Book, The Seven Seas, Captains Courageous--came out of the early years of their marriage, spent in Brattleboro, Vt., where the Kiplings lived with Caroline's family after Rudyard lost his savings because of a bank failure. The residents of Brattleboro seemed provincial to Kipling, and they viewed his quiet life-style as "secretive and unneighborly." Kipling soon had a quarrel over money with his brother-in-law that culminated in a lawsuit, which was given undue coverage in the American newspapers. Kipling was relieved to leave the U.S. for England in 1896. During another visit three years later, he and his six-year-old daughter, Josephine, were stricken with pneumonia in New York City. People knelt in the street outside his hotel to pray for him. Josephine died and Kipling's recovery took a year. With so many painful memories of America, the Kiplings never returned.

For the rest of their lives they lived in Sussex, England, but they made frequent trips to South Africa. There, as in India, Kipling encountered the white Britishers dutifully spreading enlightenment among the native throngs, unappreciated by either the recipients of their endeavors or their countrymen back home. Again his poems glorified the unsung English hero in far-flung lands. Kipling never doubted the desirability of developing the backward countries; it was, he said, the "white man's burden." But Kim, published in 1900, was to be his last work from his east-of-Suez past. The Boer War and American intervention in the Philippines brought a sharp reversal in the public's attitude toward imperialism, and with it a repudiation of one of the British Empire's most admired spokesmen. Suddenly the fickle public found Kipling's philosophy militant, which of course it was, and his poetry jingoistic, which it always had been.

Although Kipling wrote some of his finest stories in the latter half of his life, and although he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907, critics who had once praised his work now ridiculed it. He still had his popular following, much of it in America. In Britain schoolboys continued to recite "Gunga Din," "Mandalay," and "If" on prize days. But the poet laureateship went, somewhat inexplicably, to someone else three times, in spite of the fact that in his traits of self-sufficiency, doggedness, and courage no one was more British than Joseph Rudyard Kipling.

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