January 18, 1936 – British novelist, short story writer and unofficial poet laureate, Rudyard Kipling dies at the age of 70. He was born in India where his father was an art teacher. At the age of six, he was taken to England where he was mistreated in foster homes for the next five years.
He entered United Services College in 1878, hoping for a military career. But his poor grades and poorer eyesight ended his dream of a life in the military. He returned to India and began writing, glorifying the British Empire and racial prejudices that were common at the time. He traveled to the US and to Africa and continued his writing.
He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, and was the first Englishman as well as the youngest person to do so. He was offered both a knighthood and the post of British poet laureate but turned down both offers. Some of his most famous works are The Jungle Book, a work of fiction containing the short stories such as Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The Man Who Would Be King is another of his famous short stories. He also wrote the famous poems Gunga Din and If -. He also wrote a series of children’s book. Just So Stories for Little Children was just the first.
Kipling’s association with the British Empire and expansive European colonialism led to his being adversely affected by World War I. His eldest son, John, was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos. Kipling joined Sir Farbian Ware’s Imperial War Graves Commission, the group founded in 1917 and responsible for the garden-like appearance of gravesites of fallen soldiers.
“He wrapped himself in quotations- as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
“The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.”
“All the people like us are we, And everyone else is They.” – all by Rudyard Kipling
Also on this day, in 1788 the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay.