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Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)

4.06.2010

From the 1980s to the 1920s the most popular writer in the English-speaking world was Rudyard Kipling. In 1907 he received the first Nobel Prize in literature given to an author writing in the English language. He published hundreds of short stories and poems, four novels, and volumes of pamphlets, speeches.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on the 30th of December 1865 in Bombay, India. His father was an educated man, who had come to India to teach arts in Bombay, where Kipling spent his early childhood. His first six years were idyllic and stimulating. He had two Indian servants of his own, and with them he spoke Hindustani. Then everything changed.

When Rudyard was three, Alice Kipling gave birth to a daughter, named after her mother but called Trix, and in 1870 she gave birth to a second son who died almost immediately. This event set the Kipling parents on a course of action quite common among colonial families though disastrous for their son and daughter. To remove Rudyard and Trix from the Indian heat and diseases, they took them back to England and placed them in the care of hired foster parents whom they had found through a newspaper advertisement. Their six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter did not see them again for over five years.

In 1878 Kipling entered the college, where his first works were printed in school papers. In 1882 Kipling started the working life. He arrived in Bombay on 18 October 1882 and began to work at the newspaper. Kipling’s literary career began in 1886 with the publication of “Departmental Ditties and Other Verses” a collection of light and satiric poems.

Soon Kipling got acquainted with Wolcott Balestier, an American publisher’s agent, who became Kipling’s closest friend. Kipling fell in love with Wolcott’s elder sister Caroline and he married her, then they went to the United States, where two daughters were born. Kipling enjoyed a richly productive literary period that saw the beginning of his career as a children’s author, producing “The Jungle Book” (1894). The best-known character in “The Jungle Book” is Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves. “The Second Jungle Book”; “Captain Courageous”; “Kim” and “Just So Stories For Little Children” were published. In the 1920s Kipling became a friend of King George V. He received honorary doctorates from McGill University in Canada; the Universities of Durham, Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh; and the Universities of Paris and Strasbourg. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1907, and in 1923 he became Lord Rector of Saint Andrew’s University.

He died on 18 January 1936 of the stroke. Kipling achieved great popularity among ordinary people as well as recognition by many of his contemporaries and  prominent writers.

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