Author Spotlight: Rudyard Kipling
Born in the British Colony in India, Joseph Rudyard Kipling is one of the most prolific British writers. His parents were both born in the UK and moved to India where they started a family. As was tradition back then, Rudyard and his sister were taken back to Britain to study. He lived with a family that boarded children whose parents were stationed in India. Rudyard later recalled the stay in Britain to be a horrible experience and wondered if it had been the reason for the early onset of his literary life.
In 1878, Rudyard was admitted to the United Services College, a school that aimed to prepare boys to serve for the British Army. He found it difficult to adjust, but later on the school inspired his schoolboy stories, Stalky & Co. (1899).
Before he finished school, his parents decided that he wouldn’t be able to get into Oxford on a scholarship, so they made him return to India where his father found him a job. He was to be assistant editor of a local newspaper, the Civil and Military Gazette. Rudyard loved working for the paper, and it helped him further improve his writing skills. In 1886, he published his first collection of prose, Departmental Ditties.
After a management change in the Gazette, Rudyard was allowed more creative freedom. He published 39 stories between November 1886 and June 1887. Most of these were published in his prose collection Plain Tales from the Hills.
He saved up his salary and sailed back to London, the literary capital of the British Empire. Here he managed to pen several stories that were published in various magazines. In 1892, Rudyard married Carrie Balestier, and the two took on a honeymoon that took them to the United States and then Japan and back to the States. Upon discovering that Carrie was pregnant with their first child, they rented a house in Vermont which they called Bliss Cottage. The first daughter, Josephine, was born here, as was Rudyard’s most popular story—The Jungle Book. The Jungle Book is a collection of fables in which the animals delivered stories with moral lessons. The book featured characters such as Baloo the Bear, Shere Khan the Tiger, and Mowgli, a “man-cub” who was raised in the jungle by wolves.
In a span of four years, Rudyard created more Jungle Books, as well as a novel, a collection of short stories, and a lot of poetry.
In 1907, Rudyard was awarded one of the highest honors in literature—the Nobel Prize. The citation read: “In consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.” He was the first writer to receive the Nobel for writing in the English language.
He kept writing until the early 1930s, his popularity slowly dwindling with his age. In 1936, he suffered a hemorrhage and died a week later.
In 2010, a crater on the planet Mercury was named Kipling after the author. A crocodile species was named after him as well to acknowledge his interest in the natural sciences. Through the years, The Jungle Book remained popular, even earning an animated adaptation by Disney.
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