Baldwin Papers

Scope and Content

The Baldwin Papers consist of papers concerning the Kipling family, and include original documents (mostly correspondence), copies and transcripts, printed pieces, and a few photographs. Edith Plowden's papers comprise manuscript and printed recollections of India and 34 letters (1881-1933) to her from Rudyard Kipling and his parents John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Kipling (ne Macdonald). Addressees of other letters from Rudyard Kipling include his Macdonald aunts and members of the Baldwin family (including Stanley Baldwin). The copies of Kipling's literary works are mostly facsimiles or photocopies but include original impressions of his rare early volumes of Schoolboy Lyrics (1881) and Echoes (1884).

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection comprises papers assembled by Arthur Windham Baldwin, 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1907-1976) for the biography of his mother and aunts, The Macdonald sisters (London: Peter Davies, 1960). Four of them married Alfred Baldwin, father of Stanley Baldwin, later a Conservative Prime Minister and 1st Earl Baldwin; Edward Burne-Jones, the eminent pre-Raphaelite painter; Edward Poynter, a President of the Royal Academy of Arts; and John Lockwood Kipling, the father of the author Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

One of Lord Baldwin's principal informants was, in her old age, Miss Edith Ramsay Plowden (1854-after 1938), daughter of George Augustus Plowden who had entered the Bengal Civil Service in 1828. Unmarried, she had lived in Lahore with her brother (Sir) Henry Meredyth Plowden (1840-1920) who rose to be Chief Judge of the Chief Court of the Punjab, 1880-1894. She studied art and published designs for wood-carvers in 1895 and 1907, as well as some stories. A friend of five of the Macdonald sisters, she also knew the young Rudyard Kipling. Encouraged by Lord Baldwin in the later 1930s she set down her recollections and delivered a talk to the Kipling Society in July 1938 on 'Rudyard Kipling's parents in India' (partly published in Kipling Journal, 46 (July 1938), 42-5. She gave Baldwin an incomplete manuscript of the recollections (a later typescript apparently having been lost), along with letters from John Lockwood and Alice Kipling and from Rudyard. It is likely that she returned to Rudyard other letters from him and his family, and that he (or his wife) destroyed most of them; she certainly returned a volume of verses he had given her in November 1882, and he destroyed it (Thomas Pinney (ed.), The letters of Rudyard Kipling, 4: 1911-19 (London: Macmillan, 1999), 282). What survive in Kipling's papers are only another 44 letters to her from his parents (SxMs 38/1/10).

Access Information

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of The Keep's Reading Rooms.

Acquisition Information

The Baldwin Papers were deposited in the University Library as a loan in December 1978 by Elspeth, Countess Baldwin of Bewdley.


Prepared by John Farrant, July 2002.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available on The Keep's website.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, digital copies can be made.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Custodial History

The letters addressed to E. R. Plowden, and her own writings, were given in the late 1930s by her to Lord Baldwin. The other letters presumably passed to Lord Baldwin through his own family.

Related Material

This collection supplements the main collection of the papers of Rudyard Kipling, his parents, his wife and his daughter, which accumulated at Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge and which are deposited at the University of Sussex as SxMs 38, Kipling Papers - Wimpole Archive. The record for that collection includes a list of all the supplementary collections.