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Rudyard Kipling – Biography

Born: December 30, 1865
Bombay, India
Died: January 18, 1936
Burwash, England

English writer and poet

The English poet and story writer Rudyard Kipling was one of the first masters of the short story in English, and he was the first to use Cockney dialect (the manner in which natives of London, England’s, East End speak) in serious poetry.

Early life

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India. His father was professor of architectural sculpture at the Bombay School of Art. In 1871 Kipling was sent to England for his education. In 1878 Rudyard entered the United Services College at Westward Ho!, a boarding school in Devon. There young “Gigger,” as he was called, endured bullying and harsh discipline, but he also enjoyed the close friendships, practical jokes, and merry pranks he later recorded in Stalky & Co. (1899).

Kipling’s closest friend at Westward Ho!, George Beresford, described him as a short, but “cheery, capering, podgy, little fellow” with a thick pair of spectacles over “a broad smile.” His eyes were brilliant blue, and over them his heavy black eyebrows moved up and down as he talked. Another close friend was the headmaster, (the principal of a private school) “Crom” Price, who encouraged Kipling’s literary ambitions by having him edit the school paper and praising the poems which he wrote for it. When Kipling sent some of these to India, his father had them privately printed as Schoolboy Lyrics (1881), Kipling’s first published work.

Young journalist

In 1882 Kipling rejoined his parents in Lahore, India, where he became a copy editor (one who edits newspaper articles) for the Civil and Military Gazette. In 1887 he moved to the Allahabad Pioneer, a better paper, which gave him greater liberty in his writing. He published satiric (sharply or bitterly witty) verses, Departmental Ditties in 1886, and over seventy short stories in 1888 in seven paperback volumes. In style, these stories showed the influence of the writers Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), Bret Harte (1836–1902), and Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893). The subjects, however, were Kipling’s own. He wrote about Anglo-Indian society, which he readily criticized with an acid pen, and the life of the common British soldier and the Indian native, which he portrayed accurately and sympathetically.

Fame in England

In 1889 Kipling took a long voyage through China, Japan, and the United States. When he reached London, he found that his stories had preceded him and established him as a brilliant new author. He was readily accepted into the circle of leading writers. While there he wrote a number of stories and some of his best-remembered poems: “A Ballad of East and West,” “Mandalay,” and “The English Flag.” He also introduced English readers to a “new genre [type]” of serious poems in Cockney dialect: “Danny Deever,” “Tommy,” “Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” and “Gunga Din.”

Kipling’s first novel, The Light That Failed (1891), was unsuccessful. But when his stories were collected as Life’s Handicap (1891) and poems as Barrackroom Ballads (1892), Kipling replaced Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) as the most popular English author.

The American years

In 1892 Kipling married Caroline Balestier. They settled on the Balestier estate near Brattleboro, Vermont, in the United States, and began four of the happiest years of Kipling’s life. During this time he wrote some of his best work— Many Inventions (1893), perhaps his best volume of short stories; The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895), two books of animal fables that attracted readers of all ages by illustrating the larger truths of life; The Seven Seas (1896), a collection of poems in experimental rhythms; and Captains Courageous (1897), a novel-length, sea story. These works not only assured Kipling’s lasting fame as a serious writer but also made him a rich man.

His imperialism

In 1897 the Kiplings settled in Rottingdean, a village on the British coast near Brighton. The outbreak of the Spanish-American War (1898; a short war between Spain and the United States over lands including Cuba and the Philippines) and the Boer War (1899–1902; a war between Great Britain and South Africa) turned Kipling’s attention to colonial affairs. He began to publish a number of solemn poems in standard English in the London Times. The most famous of these, “Recessional” (July 17, 1897), issued a warning to Englishmen to regard their accomplishments in the Diamond Jubilee (fiftieth) year of Queen Victoria’s (1819–1901) reign with humility and awe rather than pride and arrogance. The equally well-known “White Man’s Burden” (February 4, 1899) clearly expressed the attitudes toward the empire that are implied in the stories in The Day’s Work (1898) and A Fleet in Being (1898).

Kipling referred to less highly developed peoples as “lesser breeds” and considered order, discipline, sacrifice, and humility to be the essential qualities of colonial rulers. These views have been denounced as racist (believing that one race is better than others), elitist (believing oneself to be a part of a superior group), and jingoistic (pertaining to a patriot who speaks in favor of an aggressive and warlike foreign policy). But for Kipling, the term “white man” indicated citizens of the more highly developed nations. He felt it was their duty to spread law, literacy, and morality throughout the world.

During the Boer War, Kipling spent several months in South Africa, where he raised funds for soldiers’ relief and worked on an army newspaper, the Friend. In 1901 Kipling published Kim, the last and most charming of his portrayals of Indian life. But anti-imperialist reaction following the end of the Boer War caused a decline in Kipling’s popularity.

When Kipling published The Five Nations, a book of South African verse, in 1903, he was attacked in parodies (satirical imitations), caricatures (exaggerations for comic effect), and serious protests as the opponent of a growing spirit of peace and democratic equality. Kipling retired to “Bateman’s,” a house near Burwash, a secluded village in Essex.

Later works

Kipling now turned from the wide empire as his subject to simply England itself. In 1902 he published Just So Stories for Little Children. He also issued two books of stories of England’s past— Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) and Rewards and Fairies (1910). Like the Jungle Books they were intended for young readers but were suitable for adults as well. His most significant work at this time was a number of volumes of short stories written in a different style—”Traffics and Discoveries” (1904), “Actions and Reactions” (1904), “A Diversity of Creatures” (1917), “Debits and Credits” (1926), and “Limits and Renewals” (1932).

Kipling’s later stories treat more complex, subtle, and somber (serious) subjects. They reflect Kipling’s darkened worldview following the death of his daughter, Josephine, in 1899, and the death of his son, John, in 1915. Consequently, these stories have never been as popular as his earlier works. But modern critics, in reevaluating Kipling, have found a greater power and depth that make them among his best work.

In 1907 Kipling became the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died on January 18, 1936, and is buried in Westminster Abbey in London, England. His autobiography, Something of Myself, was published in 1937.

Rudyard Kipling’s early stories and poems about life in colonial India made him a great favorite with English readers. His support of English imperialism (the policy of extending the rule of a nation over foreign countries) at first contributed to this popularity but caused a reaction against him in the twentieth century. Today he is best known for his Junglշe Books and Kim, a Story of India.

Analysis of “If” by Rudyard Kipling

I really liked the poem because of its meaning. That teaches us a lot of wise things, about which we must know and remember. I’m too happy that we read it on our lecture, so I’m gonna read it one more time.

I want to speak about what it teaches us. So we must believe in ourselves, while we making an alowance to the others doubting us. We must trust ourselves, we must be the ones who we are. We can be lied, but don’t deal in lie, we can be hated, but don’t hate others. We must wait, but don’t be tired by waithing. So you can find such things and meanings in the poem…

But the mains are our Will, which holds on our feelings and mind, and the virtue, about which we must always remember.

This was the only and first poem, which I liked as much, so I was surprised that Rudyard Kipling had written such books and stories.

Modal verbs: can, may, must

Can, could, and be able to

  • We use can to say that something is possible or that somebody has the ability to do something.

e.g. He can speak many foreign languages.

  • The negative is can’t.
  • But can has only two forms can (present) and could (past).
  • Can has no future and present perfect that is why in those cases we use be able to.

e.g. I will be able to meet you tomorrow.

They haven’t been able to sleep recently.

May and Might

  • We use may or might to say that something is a possibility.

It may be true.(present)

It might be true.(past)

It might rain.(future- perhaps it will rain)

  • The negative forms are may not and might not (mightn’t)


I, you, he… etc may (might) not be (true, at home, in the office)

not be (doing, working,having)

not do, know, have , want

Must and have to

  • We use must and have to to say that it is necessary to do something.

E/g I must go or I have to go

  • The negative forms are mustn’t and don’t have to(doesn’t have to)
  • The difference between must and have to:

You must do something.

You must meet her.

In both cases the speaker says that it is necessary.

You can’t turn right here, you have to turn left.(because of the traffic system)

I have to get up early tomorrow.My train leaves at 7:30


1. Complete the sentences using can, could, be able to

1.John has traveled a lot. He can speak four languages.

2.I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately.

3. She can drive, but she hasn’t got a car.

4. I can’t see you on Friday, but I will be able to meet you on Saturday.

5. You look tired. – Yes, I couldn’t sleep last night.

6.I was feeling sick yesterday. I couldn’t eat anything.

7.They didn’t want to come with us, but we can persuade them.

2. Use may or might

1.I was surprised, that Sarah wasn’t at the meeting.- She might not have known about it.

2. He may be in the office.

3. Ask Ann, she may know.

4.I haven’t decided where I am going for holidays. I may go to England.

5.Take the umbrella. It may rain later.

3.Use must, mustn’t , have to , don’t/doesn’t have to

  1. I promised I would be on time. I mustn’t be late.
  2. I’m not working tomorrow, so I don’t have to get up early.
  3. What do I have to do to get a driving license?
  4. I haven’t phoned Ann for ages, I must phone her tonight.
  5. I don’t want anyone to know. You mustn’t tell anyone.
  6. He doesn’t have to wear a suit to work, but he usually does.
  7. We haven’t got much time. We must hurry.

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