Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, in 1865. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an artist and teacher. His mother, Alice Macdonald Kipling, was from a family of exceptional sisters. One married the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, and another was the mother of Stanley Baldwin, the British prime minister in the years between the two world wars.
As was customary at the time, Rudyard and his younger sister remained in England when their parents returned to India, and Kipling dramatized his misery at being left behind in his later writings. He attended a second-rank private school that prepared middle-class boys for careers in the military; small, not athletic, and forced to wear glasses, Kipling was not an outstanding or popular student, but his literary interests proved a defense and a consolation. The university was not an option for him, primarily for financial reasons, and he returned to India, where his parents had found a position for him on an English-language newspaper.
Kipling was fascinated by India. Often unable to sleep, he spent his nights wandering the streets. He had written some poetry as a schoolboy and continued to do so, while also composing newspaper sketches featuring his Anglo-Indian environment. By the end of the 1880’s, he had already published several volumes of short stories and poems. No British writer since Charles Dickens had become so well known, and Kipling was only in his...
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