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Rudyard Kipling Biography and Poems

Rudyard Kipling Biography and Poems. This is biographical information on Rudyard Kipling, one of the best poets of all time. This biography page also provides a link to poems written by Kipling, as well as, a video biography...if available.

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Kipling, Rudyard

Biography | Poems (339)
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A British author and poet, born in India.. English short-story writer poet and novelist


Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936) was a British author and poet, born in India. He is best known for the book of children's tales The Jungle Book (1894), the Indian spy novel Kim (1901), the poems "Gunga Din" (1892), and "If—" (1895), as well as many of his short stories.

The height of Kipling's popularity was the first decade of the 20th century: in 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and still remains its youngest-ever recipient, as well as the first English language writer to receive the prize.

In his own lifetime he was primarily regarded as a poet, and was offered a knighthood and the post of British poet laureate, though he turned them both down.

Career as a writer

In 1892 Kipling married Caroline (Carrie) Balestier; he was 26, she was 30. Her brother Wolcott had been Kipling's friend, but had died of typhoid fever the previous year. They had initially met when Wolcott, a publisher, solicited Kipling for the American rights to his books. While the couple was on their honeymoon, Kipling's bank failed. Cashing in their travel tickets only allowed the couple to return as far as Vermont (where most of the Balestier family lived). Rudyard and his new bride lived in the United States for the next four years. In Brattleboro, Vermont, they built themselves a house called "Naulakha." (Naulakha means "nine lakhs of rupees" [colloquially, a fortune], the value of Sitabai's necklace in the novel Kipling wrote with Wolcott Balestier). The house still stands on Kipling Road: a big, dark-green, shingled house that Kipling himself called his "ship." It was during this time that Kipling turned his hand to writing for children, and he published the works for which he is most remembered today — The Jungle Book and its sequel The Second Jungle Book — in 1894 and 1895. Strong evidence suggests that Kipling's marriage was loveless and 'of convenience'; both partners stoically toughed it out for the sake of the children. Kipling's parents never saw eye to eye with Carrie, and the couple also grew further apart after the death of their son. [1]

A golf enthusiast, Kipling is said to have "invented" the game of "snow golf" while playing in Vermont during the winter months; this story has become an urban legend among golfers, but is a myth since there are numerous records of diehard golfers having played in the snow on various links courses around Scotland and England in the two centuries prior to Kipling's birth. He had learned the basics of golf in boarding school, and later played it - though he was not a golf 'addict' - in India too. In fact, in many of his short stories about colonial life in India (e.g. Plain Tales from the Hills) he mocked the 'golfing set', implying that golf was the archetypal hobby of the idle.

At the end of this period he had a quarrel with his brother-in-law, a quarrel that ended up in court. This case darkened his mind and he felt he had to leave Vermont. He and his wife returned to England, and in 1897, he published Captains Courageous. In 1899, Kipling published his novel Stalky & Co. These affecting school stories suggest something about Kipling's equivocal views of easy patriotism, and also include one of the best accounts in literature of a Latin lesson. The book also gave currency to the once popular expression, "Your uncle Stalky is a great man." The character Beetle is based on Kipling's own school days as a short-sighted intellectual boy.

In 1898 Kipling began travelling to Africa for winter vacations almost every year. In Africa Kipling met and befriended Cecil Rhodes and began collecting material for another of his children's classics, Just So Stories for Little Children. That work was published in 1902, and another of his enduring works, Kim, first saw the light of day the previous year.

On a visit to America in 1899, Kipling and his eldest daughter Josephine developed pneumonia, from which Josephine eventually died.

Kipling's poetry of the time included "Gunga Din" (1892) and "The White Man's Burden" (1899); in the non-fiction realm he also became involved in the debate over the British response to the rise in German naval power, publishing a series of articles collectively-entitled A Fleet in Being.

The first decade of the 20th century saw Kipling at the height of his popularity. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; "book-ending" this achievement was the publication of two connected poetry and story collections: 1906's Puck of Pook's Hill and 1910's Rewards and Fairies. The latter contained the poem "If— ". In a 1995 BBC opinion poll, it was voted Britain's favourite poem. This exhortation to self-control and stoicism is arguably Kipling's most famous poem.

Kipling sympathised with the anti-Home Rule stance of Irish Unionists. He was friends with Edward Carson, the Dublin-born leader of Ulster Unionism, who raised the Ulster Volunteers to oppose "Rome Rule" in Ireland. Kipling wrote the poem "Ulster" in 1912(?) reflecting this. The poem reflects on Ulster Day, 28th September, 1912 when half a million people signed the Ulster Covenant.

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