Rudyard Kipling Additional Biography


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

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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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on December 30, 1865. His father, John Lockwood Kipling of Yorkshire, England, was a scholar and an artist. The elder Kipling went to India as a professor of architectural sculpture in the Bombay School of Fine Arts and later became curator of the Lahore Museum, which Kipling was to describe meticulously in Kim. He also served as the Bombay correspondent of The Pioneer of Allahabad. In 1891, he published Beast and Man in India with the help of A. P. Watt, his son’s literary agent. The book contains excerpts from Rudyard Kipling’s newspaper reports to the Civil and Military Gazette. The book provided inspiration for Kipling’s Jungle Book stories and several others: “The Mark of the Beast,” “The Finances of the Gods,” and “Moti Guj, Mutineer” are some examples.

Kipling’s mother, Alice Macdonald, was one of five Macdonald sisters, three of whom married into prominent families. Georgina Macdonald married the distinguished Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones; Agnes Macdonald married another painter, Sir Edward Poynter, who was influential in helping John Kipling obtain a position in India; and a third sister married Alfred Baldwin, the railroad owner, whose son Stanley Baldwin became prime minister of England. Kipling was therefore connected with creative and intellectually stimulating families through his mother, while from his father he inherited a strong Wesleyan tradition.

Rudyard and his sister, Trix, spent the first six years of their lives in India. Surrounded by Indian servants who told them Indian folktales, Kipling absorbed the Indian vocabulary and unconsciously cultivated the habit of thinking in that vocabulary, as illustrated in his short story “Tod’s Amendment.” Kipling recalls these early years in his posthumously published autobiography, Something of Myself, noting how he and his sister had to be reminded constantly to speak English to their parents and that he spoke English “haltingly translated out of the vernacular idiom that one thought and dreamed in.” This contributed to the great facility with which he uses Indian words as part of his writing style. Edmund Wilson, in his essay “The Kipling That Nobody Read,” writes that Kipling even looked like an Indian as a young boy.

Like other Anglo-Indian children who were sent home to England for their education, Kipling and his sister were shipped to London to live with a relative of their father in Southsea. The pain and agony of those six years under the supervision of this sadistic woman in what Kipling calls “the house of desolation” is unflinchingly re-created in the early part of The Light That Failed and in the short story “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” According to Wilson, the traumatic experiences of those six years filled Kipling with hatred for the rest of his life.

Kipling studied at the United Services College, a public school for children from families with a military background or with the government civil service. Kipling served as...

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(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on December 30, 1865. His parents were John Lockwood Kipling and Alice (née Macdonald) Kipling. His father was then a sculptor and designer and was principal and professor of architectural sculpture of the School of Art at Bombay, and he later became curator of the museum at Lahore. His mother came from a family of accomplished women. John Lockwood Kipling set many of the high standards for literary skill that Rudyard endeavored to match in both fiction and poetry. Both parents encouraged their son’s literary efforts and took pride in his achievements.

Except for a brief visit to England, Rudyard Kipling spent his first five years in India. In 1871, he was taken with his sister Alice to England and left with Captain and Mrs. Holloway of Lorne Lodge in Southsea. After several unhappy years in the ungentle care of Mrs. Holloway, he left Lorne Lodge in 1877. In 1878, he was sent to United Services College in Devon. In 1882, he traveled to Lahore, where his father had found him a job as a reporter for the Civil and Military Gazette. He had seen little of his parents since 1871. Somewhat to his annoyance, he discovered that his parents had gathered the verses from his letters to them and had them published as Schoolboy Lyrics in 1881. In 1887, he joined the staff of the Pioneer of Allahabad, which he left in 1889. His experiences in England figure in many of his stories; his experiences as a journalist in India are reflected not only in his fiction but also in much of his best verse.

In 1888, Émile Édouard Moreau began the Indian Library, primarily to help...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865. His father, John Kipling, was a middle-class craftsman and designer who had received a post at a school of art in Bombay, probably with the help of his wife’s brother-in-law, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Kipling’s mother’s name was Alice Macdonald. By all reports, the young Kipling was spoiled by his parents and their Indian servants. When he was five years old, however, his parents began to fear that he was growing more Indian than English, so they brought him and his younger sister back to England, where they were boarded with a Captain Holloway and his wife, who were strangers to the Kiplings.

According to Kipling’s own account, in his autobiography as well as in fictional accounts in his works, he was not happy during this period, particularly after the death of Captain Holloway. For whatever reason, Mrs. Holloway did not like him and frequently punished him for what she saw as his headstrong and spoiled behavior. Because of her Calvinist threats of hellfire and damnation, Kipling called the house in the little seaside town the House of Desolation. His life was made even more miserable by his worsening eyesight, which caused his schoolwork to suffer.

In 1878, his mother returned to England to spend some time with her children, but once again she left for India, this time leaving Kipling in the United Services College boarding school in North Devon, where he stayed until 1882. Because the school had been recently founded primarily for the sons of military officers who could not afford to send them anywhere else, however, it quickly developed a reputation for being a place for bullies and toughs, as Kipling’s fictional Stalky and Co. (1899) makes abundantly, sometimes obnoxiously, clear.

Since the school was primarily established to get boys past the military examinations rather than into Oxford or Cambridge, Kipling, an omnivorous reader but not the best of students, did not continue his education...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay on December 30, 1865. Born far from what he once termed “the provincialism of London,” he became a major voice for a multicultural empire—or, in later years, an Anglo-French federation of homelands and former colonies. Sometimes he sought to win followers for these visions by compromising with the ethnocentrism of his age, as in his notorious poem “The White Man’s Burden.”

Kipling was the first child of John Lockwood Kipling, architectural sculptor at the Bombay School of Arts, and Alice Macdonald Kipling. Both parents were children of Methodist ministers and contributed to the biblical accent in many of Kipling’s works. Like many other Anglo-Indian children,...

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(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

The writings of Rudyard Kipling have long been controversial. As an author unafraid to expose his personal political and social beliefs to his readers, Kipling voiced his views not only through the actions of his characters, but also through public meetings, the courts, and the press. Censorship of his work goes back to 1898, when his new book A Fleet in Being: Notes of Two Trips with the Channel Squadron was suppressed by the British Government because it allegedly revealed Royal Navy secrets. (Copies of the book are now rare.)

Kipling’s Just So Stories for Little Children (1902) have been attacked as part of Canada’s Impressions reading series. One story, for example, has been singled out for its use of the word “nigger.” Even Kipling’s widely known poem “Gunga Din” has been removed from some Canadian libraries as a result of pressure from groups claiming that the poem is “violent and racist and unsuitable for a multicultural society.”


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, had gone to India to teach at the Bombay...

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(Short Stories for Students)

The son of English parents, Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, on December 30, 1865. He and his sister Alice (‘‘Trix’’) were...

(The entire section is 403 words.)