Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865 in Bombay.
His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was a professor of architectural sculpture, curator of the Lahore Museum, a painter and an illustrator of some note. Rudyard’s parents were English.
As a child Rudyard was quick to learn, alert in games and in solving puzzles. He spent his childhood in Lahore. The boy was the idol of the Hindoo servants. Hindoo was the first language he spoke.
At 6 young Kipling was taken to England and educated at an English College in North Devon. From March 1882 until June 1883 he was editor-in-chief of the school paper “The Chronicle”. This training was the natural step to the editorial position, which he later occupied.
As far as his studies were concerned, he was not brilliant in mathematics, but in history he was very well. When he went back to India in 1883, he took with him the gold medal of the college for a prize essay on history.
Returning to India, Kipling engaged in journalism. At 17 he became sub-editor of the Lahore “Civil and Military Gazette”. At 21 he published his first volume. Departmental Ditties, a small book of verse. A year later he attracted public attention as a story-teller with Plain Tales from the Hills. Before he was 24he had brought out six small collections of stories, which showed his mastery in the form. Among these early narratives some of the best are :”Soldiers Three”, “The Phantom Rickshaw” and “Wee Willie Winkie”. These and the stories, which followed, were astonishing in their vigour, brilliant colour, accurate observation and , above all, their remarkable inventiveness. Here was a new master of fiction.
All his life Kipling was admired by the people he came in touch with. He was respected for his generosity, sense of humor and pleasant ways. He was said to be extremely modest.
Rudyard loved India and its inhabitants. His respect for the country and for the peoples of Asia remained with him throughout his life and coloured much of his writing. But still he never forgot that he was a white man and an Englishman.
Kipling’s talent was quickly recognized in India, but it was not till his books reached England that give true rank was appreciated and proclaimed.
Between 1887 and 1899 Kipling traveled around the world. He visited China, Japan and lived for a few years in America, where he married an American-Caroline Starr Balestier.
During this period he wrote several of his most popular works, which took the reading public by storm. These were his stories for children, which became classics: The Jungle Books (1894-1895), Captains Courageous (1897) and Just So Stories (1902). He appealed equally, to youth and age with Kim (1901), Puck Of Pook’s Hill (1906) and Rewards And Fairies (1910).These works are fine examples of the modern treatment of history. Kipling had a profound sense oh history and his history was always human, and human of the common people, never of kings and aristocrats.
During the South African war (1899-1902) Kipling supported the policy of British expansion that reacted on his literature not to its advantage. However, he saw the dangers of imperialism, he was a champion of the soldier and the seaman, and many times took the side of the natives of India, fully aware of their suffering under imperialism.
At the end of his life Kipling came to hate war, which formerly he had thought to be inevitable. His hatred of war is evident in such works as “Mary Postgate” (1915) and “”The Gardener” (1926).
The last decade of the 19th century was Rudyard Kipling’s most mature period, while the beginning of the 20th century saw the decline of his talent. The works of the later period are inferior, as a whole, to those written at the end of the 19th century.
In 1936 Kipling was at work on a collection of autobiographical notes when he died on January 17, a few weeks after his 70th birthday. A year after his death there appeared Something of Myself , a collection of autobiographical notes containing memoirs, and that “something “ about himself, which Kipling was willing to disclose.