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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was an English writer. He is best known for his poems and stories set in India during the period of British imperial rule. Kipling was born in Bombay, India, in 1865. His father was an artist and teacher. In 1870, Kipling was taken back to England to stay with a foster family and then to go to boarding school in Devon. In 1882, he returned to India and worked as a journalist, writing poetry and fiction in his spare time. His books gained success in England, and in 1889 Kipling went to live in London. He became chiefly known as a writer of short stories. In many of his works he glorified the common soldier, in particular ‘Plain Tales from the Hills’ and ‘Soldiers Three’ (1888), collections of short stories with roughly and affectionately drawn soldier portraits. Kipling was hailed for his narrative brilliance, spitfire sentences and the colorful opening up of the hitherto unknown worlds of military and civilian life in British India. For his middle-class English public, Kipling maneuvered the distant Empire into semidetached coziness: gorgeously dangerous and entirely manageable. His cautionary lines about the white man’s burden – his famous poem from 1899, justifying British colonialism as the white men’s responsibility towards the natives – were no burden at all. At most, they were grace before a lavish meal. They allowed readers to feel good about feeling bad about feeling good.

In 1892, Kipling married Caroline Balestier, the sister of an American friend, and the couple moved to Vermont in the United States, where her family lived. Their two daughters were born there and Kipling wrote ‘The Jungle Book’ (1894). In 1896, a quarrel with his wife’s family prompted Kipling to move back to England and he settled with his own family in Sussex. His son John was born in 1897. By now Kipling had become an immensely popular writer and poet for children and adults. His books included ‘Stalky and Co.’ (1899), ‘Kim’ (1901) and ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’ (1906). The ‘Just So Stories’ (1902) were originally written for his daughter Josephine, who died of pneumonia aged six. Kipling turned down many honours in his lifetime, including a knighthood and the poet laureateship, but in 1907, he accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first English author to be so honoured. Kipling died in 1936 and is buried at Westminster Abbey.

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