Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay. His father was a professor at the Bombay school of Art and curator of the Government Museum. The boy inherited some of his father's artistic talent and showed a literary interest. He produced his first book Schoolboy Lyrics at the age of sixteen. R. Kipling was educated in an English school but his first working home was India, where from 1882 till 1889 he was engaged in journalistic work for various periodicals.
Kipling came into English verse with Departmental Ditties and Other Verses (1886). This book of verse was followed by Barrack Room Ballads (1892), The Seven Seas (1896) and The Five Nations (1903). All of them deal with the British in India and glorify the English nation.
Unfortunately, Kipling propagated reactionary ideas in a great number of his works. During the South-African war (Boer war) of 1899-1902 Kipling supported the policy of British expansion. He was a universally recognized "bard" of the British Empire, the voice of imperialism. He supported England's colonial policy and the English rule in the conquered lands. He called upon the white man to do his bit for these countries. At the same time he also described the hardships which the devoted servants of the Empire had to endure for the growth and prosperity of British crown. He showed the feelings of the common man - the man who worked, a soldier and a sailor, an engineer and an administrator. He wrote of the courage, patriotism and honour of these brave people. British imperialism delighted in his philosophy "the right of the strong". His art expressed what the ruling classes wished to hear. In these works Kipling is not at his best, although some of them contain criticism of the English in the colonies and deep respect for the Indian people. The Indian scene was the source of his first popularity. Born in India and working there for a time he was able to convey the colour and strangeness of the great country.
Yet Kipling has also poems in which the imperialist tendency does not exist. They are devoted to universal human values - man's courage, energy, patience and self-possession, e. g., the poem If.
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about don't deal in lies, Or being hated don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; ...If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much, If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more, - you'll be a Man, my son!
Between 1887 and 1899 Kipling travelled around the world, visiting China, Japan, and living in America, where he married an American, Caroline Starr Belestier.
He was a born storyteller, and knew how to keep the story moving, how to bring it to its culmination and give it point. Beginning with Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) Kipling produced volumes of short stories and novels that included The Light that Failed (1891) and Kim (1901). He also wrote an original story of school life Stalky and Co (1899).
His other works include The Story of the Gadsbys (1888), Soldiers Three (1888), Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories (1888), Many Inventions, Captains Courageous (1897).
In his well-known animal stories The Jungle Book (1894) he described how the child Mowgli was brought up by wolves and taught by them and the Black Panther the law of the jungle, and how Mowgli became the master of the beasts. Kipling had seen India as a child, and it was this child's vision that gave his descriptions a unique quality. He knew how to talk to children. His two Jungle Books and Just So Stories (1902) have been translated into dozens of languages and are still read all over the world.
R. Kipling was a poet, a novelist and a short-story writer, exceedingly popular in the late XIX century. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the first writer and the first Englishman to whom this prize was awarded.
In 1936 Kipling was at work on a collection of autobiographical notes which remained unfinished due to his death on January 17. A year after his death these appeared under the title Something of Myself.
Despite his support of the colonial policy of Britain Kipling was a man who was aware of the real world he lived in and at the end of his life he came to hate war.
Rudyard Kipling was one of those writers who are equally at home in prose and in verse. His most attractive qualities as a poet are his excellent rhymes and rhythms, and the music of his verse. He revived the ballad and the folk tale. As Somerset Maugham wrote: "He not only created characters, he created men... Rudyard Kipling was the first to blaze the trail through new-found country, and no one has made it more exciting, and no one has presented it so vividly and with such a wealth of colour. He had, like every writer, his shortcomings, but he remains, notwithstanding, the best short-story writer that England can boast of