Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on the 30 December 1865 and was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist.
Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888)] His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature; and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".
Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, at the age of 42, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.
Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell called him a "prophet of British imperialism". Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with."
At the beginning of World War I, like many other writers, Kipling wrote pamphlets and poems which enthusiastically supported the UK's war aims of restoring Belgium after that kingdom had been occupied by Germany together with more generalised statements that Britain was standing up for the cause of good. In September 1914, Kipling was asked by the British government to write propaganda, an offer that he immediately accepted. Kipling's pamphlets and stories were very popular with the British people during the war with his major themes being glorifying the British military as the place for heroic men to be, German atrocities against Belgian civilians and the stories of women being brutalized by a horrific war unleashed by Germany, yet surviving and triumphing in spite of their suffering.
Kipling was enraged by reports of the Rape of Belgium together with the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, which he saw as a deeply inhumane act, which led him to see the war as a crusade for civilization against barbarism. In a 1915 speech Kipling declared that "There was no crime, no cruelty, no abomination that the mind of men can conceive of which the German has not perpetrated, is not perpetrating, and will not perpetrate if he is allowed to go on...Today, there are only two divisions in the world...human beings and Germans."
Alongside his passionate antipathy towards Germany, Kipling was privately deeply critical of how the war was fought by the British Army as opposed to the war itself, which he ardently supported, complaining as early as October 1914 that Germany should have been defeated by now, and something must be wrong with the British Army. Kipling, who was shocked by the heavy losses that the British Expeditionary Force had taken by the autumn of 1914 blamed the entire pre-war generation of British politicians, who he argued had failed to learn the lessons of the Boer War and as a result, thousands of British soldiers were now paying with their lives for their failure in the fields of France and Belgium.
Kipling had scorn for those men who shirked duty in the First World War. In "The New Army in Training" (1915), Kipling concluded the piece by saying:
"This much we can realise, even though we are so close to it, the old safe instinct saves us from triumph and exultation. But what will be the position in years to come of the young man who has deliberately elected to outcaste himself from this all-embracing brotherhood? What of his family, and, above all, what of his descendants, when the books have been closed and the last balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, province, and Dominion throughout the Empire?"
Kipling's son John was killed in action in the First World War, at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, at age 18. John had initially wanted to join the Royal Navy, but having had his application turned down after a failed medical examination due to poor eyesight, he opted to apply for military service as an Army officer. But again, his eyesight was an issue during the medical examination. In fact, he tried twice to enlist, but was rejected. His father had been lifelong friends with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army, and colonel of the Irish Guards, and at Rudyard's request, John was accepted into the Irish Guards.
John Kipling was sent to Loos two days into the battle in a reinforcement contingent. He was last seen stumbling through the mud blindly, with a possible facial injury. A body identified as his was not found until 1992, although that identification has been challenged.
After his son's death, Kipling wrote, "If any question why we died / Tell them, because our fathers lied." It is speculated that these words may reveal his feelings of guilt at his role in getting John a commission in the Irish Guards. Others, such as English professor Tracy Bilsing, contend that the line is referring to Kipling's disgust that British leaders failed to learn the lessons of the Boer War, and were not prepared for the struggle with Germany in 1914 with the "lie" of the "fathers" being that the British Army was prepared for any war before 1914 when it was not.
John's death has been linked to Kipling's 1916 poem "My Boy Jack", notably in the play My Boy Jack and its subsequent television adaptation, along with the documentary Rudyard Kipling: A Remembrance Tale. However, the poem was originally published at the head of a story about the Battle of Jutland and appears to refer to a death at sea; the 'Jack' referred to is probably a generic 'Jack Tar'. In the Kipling family, Jack was the name of the family dog while John Kipling was always John, making the identification of the protagonist of "My Boy Jack" with John Kipling somewhat questionable. However, it is true that Kipling was emotionally devastated by the death of his son. Kipling was said to help assuage his grief over the death of his son through reading the novels of Jane Austen aloud to his wife and daughter. During the war, he wrote a booklet The Fringes of the Fleet containing essays and poems on various nautical subjects of the war. Some of the poems were set to music by English composer Edward Elgar.
Kipling became friends with a French soldier named Maurice Hammoneau whose life had been saved in the First World War when his copy of Kim, which he had in his left breast pocket, stopped a bullet. Hammoneau presented Kipling with the book (with bullet still embedded) and his Croix de Guerre as a token of gratitude. They continued to correspond, and when Hammoneau had a son, Kipling insisted on returning the book and medal.
On 1 August 1918, a poem—"The Old Volunteer"—appeared under his name in The Times. The next day he wrote to the newspaper to disclaim authorship, and a correction appeared. Although The Times employed a private detective to investigate (and the detective appears to have suspected Kipling himself of being the author), the identity of the hoaxer was never established.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Writing) d10, Notice d8, Shooting d6
Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5 Sanity: 6
Edges & Hindrances: Fanatic, Linguist, Connections, Scholar
Gear: Notepad, writing materials