Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, during the ‘British Raj’, the era when the subcontinent of India was part of the British Empire. His father was an artist, who also taught at the city’s School of Art. When he was only five, Kipling and his sister, Alice, were taken back to England and left with foster parents in Southsea, where he attended a small private school. The colourful sights and sounds – and freedoms- of India were sorely missed. Kipling hated his foster home, which he later referred to as the “House of Desolation”.
At 12 he was sent to boarding school in Devon. The headmaster there was a friend of the family and encouraged Kipling’s interest in writing. Four years later he was back in India and working in Lahore as a journalist on two newspapers. In his spare time he penned poems and short stories. These were first printed in the newspapers, and then published as books. Through his travels all over in India, he absorbed knowledge of Hindu customs and ways of thinking, though his experience of British colonial life remained central to his disposition.
By the time Kipling returned to England in 1889, he was already a successful author, specialising in stories of heroism and masculine fellowship. Three years later he married the sister of an American friend and moved to Vermont, where his two daughters were born. There he wrote his first books for children: the two Jungle Books.
After a few happy years in America, a legal dispute with his wife’s brother led Kipling to bring his family back to England. Tragedy struck early in 1899 when his beloved first daughter, Josephine died of fever. At the same time Kipling moved to a secluded 17th-century house called Batemans in the Sussex village of Burwash, where he lived until his death in 1936.
Please click the following to read Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories:
Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas!