Rudyard Kipling was born on 30th December 1865, in Bombay, India. He was a bright son of John Lockwood Kipling, an English art teacher, while his mother, Alice Kipling, was a Scottish woman. Kipling spent his early six years in India, which he later termed as the best years of his life. In 1871, at the age of six, his life was torn apart when his mother decided to send him to England where he stayed with a foster family. This separation from his birthplace impacted him the most. His father left them in 1911 after the sad demise of his partner in 1910.
Rudyard Kipling was sent with his sister to get the best education in England. He stayed with the foster home where he attended a boarding school in Devon. For Kipling, these six years were horrific. He experienced brutality, negligence, and torture at the hands of Mrs. Holloway. He was inspired by the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Daniel Defoe and turned toward books to seek refuge. However, that cruel lady never allowed him to read in peace. At the age of eleven, he nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.
Fortunately, a visitor who came to see his foster mother saw his condition and informed his mother about his traumatic life. On hearing this, his mother came to rescue him and helped him recover from the tragedy he went through. Also, he attended a school in Devon. However, during his stay in schools not only he polished his writing ability but also became the editor of the school newspaper.
During his visit to London in 1890, Rudyard met and fell in love with Carrie Balestier, sister of Wolcott Balestier, an American editor, and writer. The couple tied the knot on the 18th of January in 1892. Soon after marriage, they went to Japan and the United States for their honeymoon. Eventually, they returned and settled in Vermont permanently. The couple had three children, John, Josephine, and Elsie. Unfortunately, only Elsie survived. Josephine died of influenza and John was killed in a battle in September 1915. The early demise of his sons devastated. He expressed his acute pain in his poem, ‘My Boy Jack’.
After winning a great repute among literary personas, Rudyard Kipling breathed his last on 18th January 1936. He was seventy when he died. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London. However, his ashes were buried at the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- His parents were inspired by the beauty of the Rudyard Lake area. Hence, they named him after it.
- In 1907, Rudyard Kipling became the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.
- He also won the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1926.
Rudyard Kipling, a great English poet and writer, led a traumatic life, but all those challenges could not hinder his abilities. His return to India in 1892 brought fortune to him. He worked for Anglo-Indian newspapers and published his thirty-nine short stories in a local newspaper, Gazette, in November 1886 and June 1887 followed by his six collections of short stories in 1888.
He was a great admirer of British soldiers whom he glorified in his works: Soldiers Three, Barrack-Room Ballad and Plain Tales from the Hills and collection of short stories that reflect his affection for the common soldiers. In 1894, his children’s classic work, The Jungle Book was released, which became much-loved children’s literature to this day. His other notable works include Captain Courageous, The Seven Seas, Puck of Pock’s Hill, The Day’s Work and Actions and Reactions. He also wrote some propaganda books during the First World War.
After establishing his career first as an editor and then as a writer, his imaginative ideas brought variety to the world of literature. Marked by allusive imagery, symbolic structures, hyperbole, metaphors, sound devices and irony, his works won global recognition. In his work, The Jungle Book, he artistically portrayed the magical aspects of nature with the blend of peculiar concepts of characters. Among his other works – “If”, “Gunga Din” and “My Boy Jack” emphasize ethics, human spirit, positivity and creative power of mankind. In fact, imaginative and humanistic ideas allowed him to document his unique thoughts in his works. The recurring themes in most of his poems are masculinity and manhood, life, courage and perseverance, death and poor treatment of the soldiers.
Rudyard Kipling’s Famous Works
- Best Poems: Some of his famous poems include: “If: A Father’s Advice to His Son”, “Gunga Din”, “The White Men’s Burden”, “Epitaphs of War” and “The Female of the Species.”
- Other Works: Besides poetry, he tried his hands on novels, some of his famous novels include Kim, Captains Courageous, The Light that Failed and Stalky and Co.
Rudyard Kipling’s Impact on Future Literature
Rudyard Kipling’s critical opinions, his imperialism and his compositions have left deep imprints on American as well as international literature. His distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression made him stand among the best poets and writers. His thoughtful ideas influenced many great poets and writers including Robert Huntington Fletcher and George Orwell. He successfully documented his ideas and feelings in his writings that even today writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing prose and poetry.
- “Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” (The Jungle Book)
- If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.” (If: A Father’s Advice to His Son)
- You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.” (Gunga Din)
- “You must learn to forgive a man when he’s in love. He’s always a nuisance.” (The Light That Failed)