Stories and poems | Origins | The Society today | Some people | Joining

The Kipling Society exists to celebrate and share the works of Rudyard Kipling, one of the great writers in English. We offer a meeting place for people around the world who enjoy his writings, in Europe, in America, in India and beyond.

We hold five evening meetings a year in London with speakers covering topics as varied as "Kipling and the Mind" and "Kipling and early Hollywood". We have started streaming meetings and poetry readings on zoom. We have a quarterly Journal and a Library that members can consult. We run a writing competition for primary school children. On line we are to be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We offer a friendly welcome to new members, from anywhere, of any age. You can join us from here.

Some lines that may ring a bell

Then the Elephant’s Child grew all breathless, and panted, and kneeled down on the bank and said, ‘You are the very person I have been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you have for dinner?’

‘Come hither, Little One,’ said the Crocodile, ‘and I’ll whisper.’

Then the Elephant’s Child put his head down close to the Crocodile’s musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.

‘I think, said the Crocodile—and he said it between his teeth, like this—‘I think to-day I will begin with Elephant’s Child!’ [Just So Stories]

... silence follows—the silence that is full of the night noises of a great city. A stringed instrument of some kind is just, and only just audible. High over head some one throws open a window, and the rattle of the woodwork echoes down the empty street. On one of the roofs a hookah is in full blast; and the men are talking softly as the pipe gutters.

A little farther on the noise of conversation is more distinct. A slit of light shows itself between the sliding shutters of a shop. Inside, a stubble-bearded, weary-eyed trader is balancing his account-books among the bales of cotton prints that surround him. Three sheeted figures bear him company, and throw in a remark from time to time. First he makes an entry, then a remark; then passes the back of his hand across his streaming forehead ... The heat in the built-in street is fearful.

A policeman—turbanless and fast asleep—lies across the road on the way to the Mosque of Wazir Khan. A bar of moonlight falls across the forehead and eyes of the sleeper, but he never stirs. It is close upon midnight, and the heat seems to be increasing ... The moonlight stripes the Mosque’s high front of coloured enamel work in broad diagonal bands; and each separate dreaming pigeon in the niches and corners of the masonry throws a squab little shadow. Sheeted ghosts rise up wearily from their pallets, and flit into the dark depths of the building ... ["The City of Dreadful Night"]

Here and there they met or were overtaken by the gaily dressed crowds of whole villages turning out to some local fair; the women, with their babes on their hips, walking behind the men, the older boys prancing on sticks of sugar-cane, dragging rude brass models of locomotives such as they sell for a halfpenny, or flashing the sun into the eyes of their betters from cheap toy mirrors. One could see at a glance what each had bought; and if there were any doubt it needed only to watch the wives comparing, brown arm against brown arm, the newly purchased dull glass bracelets that come from the North-West ...

A solid line of blue, rising and falling like the back of a caterpillar in haste, would swing up through the quivering dust and trot past to a chorus of quick cackling. That was a gang of changars— the women who have taken all the embankments of all the Northern railways under their charge— a flat-footed, big-bosomed, strong-limbed, blue-petticoated clan of earth-carriers, hurrying north on news of a job, and wasting no time by the road. They belong to the caste whose men do not count, and they walked with squared elbows, swinging hips, and heads on high, as suits women who carry heavy weights. A little later a marriage procession would strike into the Grand Trunk with music and shoutings, and a smell of marigold and jasmine stronger even than the reek of the dust. One could see the bride’s litter, a blur of red and tinsel, staggering through the haze, while the bridegroom’s bewreathed pony turned aside to snatch a mouthful from a passing fodder-cart. Then Kim would join the Kentish-fire of good wishes and bad jokes, wishing the couple a hundred sons and no daughters, as the saying is ... The lama never raised his eyes.... [Kim, ch. iv]

The Way through the Woods

THEY shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

[Marklake Witches]

Harp Song of the Dane Women

WHAT is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre.
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

[The Knights of the Joyous Venture]

The Mother Lodge

THERE was Rundle, Station Master,
An' Beazeley of the Rail,
An' 'Ackman, Commissariat,
An' Donkin' o' the Jail;
An' Blake, Conductor-Sergeant,
Our Master twice was 'e,
With im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside - " Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!
Inside - 'Brother," an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We'd Bola Nath, Accountant,
An' Saul the Aden Jew,
An' Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An' Amir Singh the Sikh,
An' Castro from the fittin'-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We 'adn't good regalia,
An' our Lodge was old an' bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An' we kep' 'em to a hair;
An' lookin' on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain't such things as infidels,
Excep', per'aps, it's us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We'd all sit down and smoke
(We dursn't give no banquets,
Lest a Brother's caste were broke),
An' man on man got talkin'
Religion an' the rest,
An' every man comparin'
Of the God 'e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin',
An' not a Brother stirred
Till mornin' waked the parrots
An' that dam' brain-fever-bird.
We'd say 'twas 'ighly curious,
An' we'd all ride 'ome to bed,
With Mo'ammed, God, an' Shiva
Changin' pickets in our 'ead.

Full oft on Guv'ment service
This rovin' foot 'ath pressed,
An' bore fraternal greetin's
To the Lodges east an' west,
Accordin' as commanded.
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an' brown,
With the trichies smellin' pleasant
An' the hog-darn passin' down;
An' the old khansamah snorin'
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more.

Outside - Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!'
Inside- Brother," an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

[The Seven Seas]
We and They

FATHER, Mother, and Me
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But - would you believe it? -
They look upon We
As only a sort of They !

We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that,
They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!)
They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They !

[Debits and Credits]

The Kipling Society was founded in 1927 by a few enthusiasts, including Kipling's school-fellows Major General Lionel Dunsterville and George Beresford, who are immortalised in Stalky & Co. the tales he wrote about his schooldays, relished by generations of schoolboys and schoolgirls.

Lionel Dunsterville (1865-1946), 'Stalky' of Stalky & Co., life-long friend of Kipling, leader of Number Five Study at the 'Coll', astute, fearless, tactically brilliant, hero of "Slaves of the Lamp", served in the Indian Army in Waziristan, devoted to the Sikhs, became a Major-General, commanded 'Dunsterforce' in Persia in 1917. He wrote Stalky's Reminiscences in 1928.

George Beresford (1864-1938), 'Turkey' in Stalky & Co., the acid-tongued Irish aristocrat, reader of Ruskin, arrogant, scathing, intellectual, hero of "In Ambush". He became a leading portrait photographer, took the classic photo of Virginia Woolf, and was a friend of the painters Augustus John and William Orpen. He wrote Schooldays with Kipling in 1936.

The Society soon attracted hundreds of members in many countries, started a successful quarterly Kipling Journal, held regular meetings, became a forum for good chat and a place of good fellowship, and one of the most thriving literary societies in the world.

Ever since, Kipling has been read and studied and argued over by many notable figures, George Orwell, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Wilson, W. H. Auden, Angus Wilson, C.S. Lewis, Edward Said. Ever since, the Society has been open to anyone of any age in any country who enjoys Kipling's works.
The Society today

We are now a world-wide community of his readers, with on line access to what people are saying today about Kipling and his writings.

Our library at Haileybury College (right) houses a treasure-trove for scholars, writers, programme-makers, and interested readers. There are many editions of Kipling’s works both rare and familiar, criticism, biographies, translations, photographs, cuttings, and printed ephemera.

At quarterly meetings in London we have speakers from many different countries. We now plan to stream these talks world-wide to our members. Recent subjects have included "The Wish House and the Working Class" by Mark Paffard, "Kipling at the Sorbonne" by Rosamond Parsons, and "Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Boer War" by Sarah LeFanu, author of the recently published book, Something of Themselves.

These talks are also published in the Kipling Journal for all members. The full searchable archive of Journals back to 1927 is available to Members on this web-site.

Some people

Jan Montefiore has edited the Kipling Journal since June 2013.

Professor of 20th Century English Literature at the University of Kent, she is the author of many studies, including Rudyard Kipling (Northcote House, 2007), and has edited In Time's Eye, Essays on Rudyard Kipling (Manchester University Press, 2013). She is Chairman of the Society's Council.

She has directed four international Kipling conferences including ‘Kipling in India: India in Kipling’, jointly with Professor Harish Trivedi (below).

Thomas Pinney is Professor of English, emeritus, at Pomona College, California.

He is the editor of the comprehensive Cambridge Edition of the poems of Rudyard Kipling (2013), of the six-volume collection of the letters of Rudyard Kipling (Macmillan 1990-2004), of Kipling's autobiography, and of a number of volumes of his uncollected articles and speeches, including The Cause of Humanity and other stories (2019).

Harish Trivedi has been Professor in the Department of English, Delhi University (1969-2012) and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Chicago (1999, 2011) and London (2002-2003)

He is the author of Colonial Transactions: English Literature and India (Manchester 1995), and has a particular interest in postcolonial studies.

He edited Kim for Penguin Classics in 2011, and in April 2016 was the joint Conference Director with Janet Montefiore of ‘Kipling in India: India in Kipling’ at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla (book of the conference forthcoming from Routledge).

Daniel Karlin is Winterstoke Professor of English at the University of Bristol.

He has a particular interest in American literature, Robert Browning, Marcel Proust, Bob Dylan—and Rudyard Kipling. He has been a frequent contributor to the Kipling Journal, and Kipling conferences. He edited Rudyard Kipling, a critical edition of the major works (Oxford, 1999).

Harry Ricketts is a poet, biographer, editor, anthologist, critic, literary scholar and cricket writer. He is Professor of English Literature in the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

He has published around thirty books, including two widely read biographies, Rudyard Kipling: The Unforgiving Minute and Strange Meetings: The Lives of the Poets of the Great War, eleven collections of poems (most recently, Winter Eyes), and a number of anthologies
Joining the Society

As a member of the Kipling Society you can come to meetings, swap ideas, find out more about what Rudyard Kipling wrote and what people have said of it since, read our Kipling Journal, use our library, explore this web-site, take part in on line chats on our Facebook page, Tweet to fellow members.

You can be sure of a friendly welcome.


For the basic annual subscription (currently £29 in the UK, £27 by Standing Order) you will receive four quarterly issues of the Kipling Journal and access to the Members' pages of this web-site, including the full archive of over 300 back-numbers of the Kipling Journal. For current students anywhere in the world there is a special rate of £10 a year.

If you are within reach of London, you can also come to the Society's regular meetings and other functions. Rates for members outside the UK include the extra cost of postage.

Please contact the Membership Secretary Dr Fiona Renshaw (ksmemsec@outlook.com. ) for information about subscription rates for institutions (universities, libraries, etc.), and any other membership enquiries.

Europe Airmail £31 or €43
Rest of the World, Journal by surface mail £31 or $48 US
Rest of the World, Journal by airmail £35 or $54 US
Current students, worldwide £10
You can register as a member and pay your first and subsequent subscriptions via PayPal here: Alternatively, we can accept cheques made out to The Kipling Society, and drawn on British banks in pounds, on US banks in dollars, or on European banks in euros. For other currencies please use either a Bank Draft or a Bank Transfer in £ sterling. (Transfers to the Kipling Society account at Lloyds, Old Bond Street, London, using our Intemational Bank Account Number (IBAN) GB18LOYD30962400114978 and the Bank Identity Code (BIC) LOYDGB21014.)

Our postal address is: The Kipling Society, Doomsday Garden, Horsham,West Sussex RH13 6LB, England. You can contact the Hon. Sec, Mike Kipling, by email at mike@kipling.me.uk.