Friendship Poems

Rudyard Kipling Biography

Kipling enjoyed some early success with his poems but soon became known as a masterful short story writer for his portrayals of the people, history and culture of his times. Through his works Kipling would often focus on the British Empire and her soldiers though that perspective of imperialism and ‘taming the natives’ has limited his current popularity. Today he is best known for The Jungle Book, which has inspired numerous other literary works and several adaptations to television and film.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born to Alice MacDonald (1837-1910) and John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911) on December 30, 1865 in Bombay, now Mumbai, India. His father was head of the Department of Architectural Sculpture at the Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry in Bombay. Some of Kipling’s earliest and fondest memories were of his and sister Alice’s trips to the bustling fruit market with their ayah, or nanny, or her telling them Indian nursery rhymes and stories before their nap in the tropical afternoon heat. His father’s art studio also provided many creative opportunities using clay and paints.

Those idyllic days were to end when in 1871 Rudyard and Alice were sent to Southsea, England, to live with Captain Holloway and his wife, while attending school. She ruled the boarding house with a heavy hand and Kipling was often beaten by her and her son. Kipling soon learned to read and was able to find solace in literature and poetry, voraciously turning to the magazines and books his parents sent him.

Kipling got a brief respite from the Holloway household each December when he visited with his mother’s kind sister Aunt Georgie and her husband, pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones, and their children, in London. Those Decembers were paradise to Kipling as North End House was constantly brimming with visiting friends and relatives, and the homey and artistic effects of the affectionate couple were everywhere.

In 1877, Kipling’s mother returned to England and immediately collected him from ‘The House of Desolation’ as he grimly refers to the Holloway’s over sixty years later in his autobiography, so that he could attend the United Services College in Westward Ho!, Devon. Now armed with spectacles, because Kipling was nearly blind without them, Mrs. Holloway and his schoolteachers gave him grief about his undiagnosed vision problems. He learned to defend himself from bullies and settled into the life of a student, became the editor of the school paper and, in his second year, started writing his own Schoolboy Lyrics , published in 1881, that was printed by his parents.

In 1881, Kipling moved back to Lahore, India to live with his parents. It was a happy homecoming. He had his own office because he became the assistant editor for the Anglo-Indian Civil and Military Gazette and later The Pioneer. He had suffered frail health as a child and his penchant for working ten or more hours a day may have led to a nervous breakdown later on in life.

Thus began Kipling’s career as a roving reporter. He wrote dozens of essays, reviews and short stories including The Man Who Would Be King in 1888 and Gunga Din in 1890. These works would later be collected in such volumes as the poetry volume, Departmental Ditties, published in 1886, and the volumes of short stories titled, Plain Tales From the Hills , published in 1888, and Wee Willie Winkie, published in 1888. Other volumes written by Rudyard Kipling include the 1891 non-fiction volume, American Notes and his first major success, the 1892 poetry volume, Barrack-Room Ballads.

On January 18, 1892, during the influenza epidemic, Kipling married Caroline ‘Carrie’ Balestier, the sister of his American publisher. Their first child, daughter Josephine, was born in 1892, daughter Elsie in 1896 and son John was born “on a warm August night of ’97′”.

In 1902, he and Carrie purchased Bateman’s House in Burwash, which he purchased and lived in for the rest of his life. Rudyard Kipling hemorrhaged and died on January 18, 1936 in London; his ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, London, England near to T. S. Eliot.


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