Considered one of the greatest English writers, Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on 30 December 1865 in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, to parents John and Alice. The name Rudyard celebrated the picnic on Lake Rudyard in Staffordshire where his parents had met.
Kipling fell in love with India and its culture, but at aged six was sent to England, to attend school in Southsea and live with a foster family named the Holloways. Struggling to fit in at school and living with a bullying foster mother, Kipling was then moved to a school in Devon where he discovered his talent for writing.
In 1882, Kipling returned to India, found a job with the Civil and Military Gazette and began to write and publish short stories, 40 of which were published in a collection called Plain Tales from the Hills, which gained wide popularity in England.
Back in England in 1889, Kipling became close friends with American agent and publisher Wolcott Balestier. In 1891, not long after Balestier’s premature death from typhoid fever, Kipling married Balestier’s sister Carrie and they moved near to Carrie’s family in Brattleboro, Vermont, and built the home they called ‘The Naulahka’. The Kiplings had two daughters: Josephine (1893–1899) and Elsie (1896–1976); and a son, John (1897–1915).
Kipling’s writing flourished during the time in Brattleboro, producing The Jungle Book (1894), The Naulahka: A Story of the West and East (1892) and The Second Jungle Book (1895), among others. However, in 1902 they moved back to England and bought a large 17th century estate in Sussex known as Bateman’s, where he wrote his widely acclaimed Just So Stories (1902) and Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906).
As well as becoming one of the highest paid writers in the world at the age of only 32, in 1907, Kipling received the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration, which characterise the creations of this world-famous author’.
Kipling died in London’s Middlesex Hospital on 18 January 1936 from a perforated duodenal ulcer. His ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey in Poets’ Corner next to the graves of Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.
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