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Biography of Rudyard Kipling

English Poet (1865—1936)

Photo of Rudyard Kipling

English short-story writer, novelist and poet, remembered for his celebration of British imperialism and heroism in India and Burma. Kipling's glorification of the British Empire and racial prejudices, stated in his poem "The White Man's Burden" (1899), has repelled many readers. However he sounded a note of uncharacteristic humility and caution in "The Recessional" (1897).

Kipling was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1907). His most popular works include The Jungle Book (1894) and the Just So Stories (1902), both children's classics though they have attracted adult audiences also.

Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India, where his father was an arts and crafts teacher at the Jeejeebhoy School of Art. His mother was a sister-in-law of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. At the age of six he was taken to England by his parents and left for five years at a foster home at Southsea. His unhappiness at the unkind treatment he received was later expressed in the short story "Baa Baa, Black Sheep", in the novel The Light That Failed (1890), and in his autobiography (1937).

In 1878 Kipling entered United Services College, a boarding school in North Devon. It was an expensive institution that specialized in training for entry into military academies. His poor eyesight and mediocre results as a student ended his hopes for a military career. However, Kipling recalled these years in a lighter tone in one of his most popular books, Stalky & Co (1899). Kipling returned to India in 1882, where he worked as a journalist in Lahore for the Civil and Military Gazette (1882-87) and as an assistant editor and overseas correspondent in Allahabad for the Pioneer (1887-89). The stories written during his last two years in India were collected in The Phantom Rickshaw. (1888)

Kipling's short stories and verses gained success in the late 1880s in England, to which he returned in 1889, and was hailed as a literary heir to Charles Dickens. Between the years 1889 and 1892, Kipling lived in London and published Life's Handicap (1891), a collection of Indian stories and Barrack-Room Ballads, a collection of poems that included "Gunga Din". 1892 Kipling married Caroline Starr Balestier, with whom he collaborated on a novel, The Naulakha(1892). The young couple moved to the United States. Kipling was dissatisfied with the life in Vermont, and after the death of his daughter, he took his family back to England and settled in Burwash, Sussex. Kipling's marriage was not in all respects happy. During these restless years Kipling produced Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894), The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896) and Captains Courageous(1897)

Widely regarded as unofficial poet laureate, Kipling refused this and many honors, among them the Order of Merit. During the Boer War in 1899 Kipling spent several months in South Africa. In 1902 he moved to Sussex, also spending time in South Africa. Kim, widely considered Kipling's best novel appeared in 1901. The story, set in India, depicted the adventures of an orphaned son of a sergeant in an Irish regiment. The children's historical work Puck of Pook's Hill appeared in 1906 and its sequel Rewards and Fairies in 1910.

Soon after Kipling had received the Nobel Prize, his output of fiction and poems began to decline. His son was killed in the World War I, and in 1923 Kipling published The Irish Guards In The Great War , a history of his son's regiment. Kipling died on January 18, 1936 in London, and was buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey. His autobiography, Something Of Myself, appeared posthumously in 1937.

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