Who is Rudyard Kipling?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Rudyard Kipling was a famous English author and traveler, who lived in India, Africa, England, and the United States during his colorful lifetime. He is well remembered for his remarkable short stories and prolific poetry, which were widely published in both England and the United States. Like many of his contemporaries, Kipling struggled with the transitional period in which he lived, in which many English colonies were beginning to protest their subordinate status. Much of Kipling's later work reflected this, along with the general feeling of disillusionment created by the First World War.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, India, and lived there for several years before being sent to England by his parents to further his education. His account of his childhood in England suggests that Kipling was not very happy there, and was often tormented by his classmates. This behavior was common in England during that period, as children born in the colonies were viewed as lesser than their fully English classmates. Kipling returned to India after graduation and worked as a reporter there until 1889, when he left on a grand tour which included the United States and Asia.


As he traveled, his work was published at home and abroad, and in 1889 Kipling went to London to work as a writer. During his time in London, Kipling wrote numerous stories, poems, and books, and met Caroline Balestier, the sister of his American publisher, whom he married in 1892. The next four years of Kipling's life were spent in Brattleboro, Vermont, where the couple had two children and Kipling wrote The Jungle Book. The family moved back to England, where a third child was born, and spent time in Africa, where Kipling wrote Just So Stories.

Kipling made an immense contribution to the field of English literature, which was recognized with a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. In addition to his children's books, Kipling wrote numerous collections of essays, stories, and poetry, including the famous “Gunga Din.” Kipling enjoyed corresponding with children in his role as a children's author, but was also respected as a commentator on adult issues, and much of his serious work was highly regarded, especially during the First World War. Kipling was also the first author to introduce the cockney dialect to serious poetry, which contributed to a wider awareness of cockney rhyming slang and cockney words.

Later in the twentieth century, Kipling became a controversial figure, because some of his work contains imperialist and racist references which some readers find distasteful. However, his work is a valuable reflection of the time in which he lived, and the mocking nature of some of his work also suggests that Kipling may not have thought highly of people who believed themselves to be superior because of their nation of origin or skin color. His books on India and Africa are especially interesting for many readers, as they provide glimpses into a bygone era written by a witty and talented author.


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