Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), British novelist, short-story writer, and poet.

Born in India and educated by foster-parents and at boarding-school in England, he was later to return to India as a journalist (1882-9).

His collections of articles and poems reflected his experiences of India, such as Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) and Soldiers Three (1890), in which he observes the customs of both the Indians and the British Raj.

Rudyard Kipling is best known and loved for his poems 'The White Man's Burden', 'Mandalay', 'Gunga Din', 'If' and his short stories The Jungle Book (1894) and Just So Stories (1902).

Much of his best verse was collected in Barrack-Room Ballads (1892).

One of his poems, the little known 'The Last of the Light Brigade', highlighted the plight of the survivors of the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.

In 1907, Rudyard Kipling was the first British writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1934, he shared the Gothenburg Prize for Poetry with William Butler Yeats. In his own lifetime he was primarily considered a poet, and was even offered a knighthood and the post of British Poet Laureate, both of which he turned down.

Kipling's autobiography was entitled Something Of Myself.

In 1995, a BBC poll placed 'If' as Britain's favourite poem. This exhortation to self-control and stoicism is arguably Kipling's single, most-famous poem.

Today, it is fashionable to view Kipling as a reactionary, an Imperialist, even a racist, but before we rush to judgment, we have to see him in the light of the times in which he lived.

(c) Keith Parkins 2005 -- October 2005 rev 0