(Joseph) Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), author, was born on 30 December 1865 at Bombay, India, where his father, John Lockwood Kipling (1865-1911), taught architectural sculpture at the Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry. His mother, born Alice Macdonald (1837-1910), had three sisters who married Edward Burne-Jones, the eminent pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Poynter, a President of the Royal Academy of Arts, and Alfred Baldwin, businessman father of Stanley Baldwin, later a Conservative Prime Minister - family connections which were to be of great importance to Kipling. In 1871 the Kipling family visited England on leave, and placed Rudyard and his younger sister as boarders with a family in Southsea. During his five years in this foster home he was bullied and physically mistreated. Between 1878 and 1882 he attended the United Services College at Westward Ho! in north Devon, a new and tough boarding school where he was again teased and bullied.
In 1882 Kipling returned to India, where he spent the next seven years working as a journalist and newspaper editor and where he began to write about India and Anglo-Indian society. His first volume of poetry, Departmental Ditties, was published in 1886, and between 1887 and 1889 he published six volumes of short stories. When he returned to England in 1889 via the United States he found himself already acclaimed as a brilliant young writer. By the time Barrack-Room Ballads had appeared in 1892, Kipling was an enormous popular and critical success.
In 1891 he travelled to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India, which he would never visit again. In the following year Kipling married Caroline Starr Balestier (1862-1939), an American. Their honeymoon took them as far as Japan, but they returned, not altogether to Kipling's satisfaction, to live at his wife's home in Vermont, where they remained until 1896. They then returned to England, living first at Rottingdean, East Sussex. During the American years, however, Kipling wrote Captains Courageous, Many Inventions, the famous poem Recessional , and most of Kim, as well as the greater portion of the two Jungle Books, all of which were very successful.
Stalky & Co., which drew heavily upon his experiences at the United Services College, was published as a collection in 1899. That year Kipling made his last visit to the United States, and was deeply affected by the death there of his eldest child, Josephine (1892-1899). Frequently in poor health himself, Kipling wintered in South Africa every year between 1900 and 1908. In 1902 he bought the house, Bateman s, in Burwash, East Sussex which remained his home in England until his death: Sussex itself lies at the centre of his books for children Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies. In 1907 Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He declined honours from the (British) Crown.
Kipling's verse and fiction revealed values that were intensely patriotic, paternalistic, and imperialist. By 1910, his popularity had already passed its zenith, for there was already growing a reaction against high Victorian imperialism. The catastrophe of World War I shocked and altered the national consciousness in a way to which Kipling never seemed to adapt - even though his only son, John (1897-1915), had died in action and Kipling became very active on the Imperial War Graves Commission. After the war Kipling became an increasingly isolated and politically marginal figure; he was angrily anti-democratic, energetically opposing women's suffrage, for example. He was also in ill-health, inducing constant and often acute pain. Between 1919 and 1932 he travelled intermittently, and continued to publish stories, poems, sketches and historical works. He died in London on 18 January 1936, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His widow survived until 1939 and bequeathed Bateman's to the National Trust. With the wealth inherited from her parents their one surviving child, Elsie (1896-1976), bought Wimpole Hall, a large estate near Cambridge which her husband George Bambridge (1892-1943) had known in childhood and which they had briefly rented in 1933. This too passed, with the Kiplings papers, by bequest to the National Trust, on Elsie's death in 1976.
The most recent biography, making much use of this collection, is by Andrew Lycett, Rudyard Kipling (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999).