The John McGivering Kipling Writing Prize 2022

Following our successful poetry competition this year, we are launchimg a writing competition for 2022, for fiction memoir or travel, on ‘Animals’. The competition will be judged by Jan Monefiore, Mary Hamer, and Sarah LeFanu.

First Prize , £350

Second Prize £100

Third Prize £50

“I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.”

Rudyard Kipling was a great animal lover. He wrote the ever-popular Just-So Stories telling How the Elephant got his Trunk, the Beginning of the Armadilloes and many more, and in the immortal Jungle Books, the stories of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose and Kotick the white seal, as well as Mowgli’s adventures with Bagheera the panther, the Wolf-Pack, and his tiger enemy Shere Khan, which Disney films have brought to a global audience. Kipling also wrote stories for adults about horses, cats, rats, bees, and – especially – dogs, including the late book-length Thy Servant a Dog, narrated by the Aberdeen terrier ‘Boots’.

The Kipling Society now invites prose submissions for our Writing Competition, funded by the generosity of the late John McGivering, on the theme of Animals. Entries may be fiction, memoir or travel, and should address the theme of animals of any kind, in any way the author chooses. They should also be somehow connected, whether directly or obliquely, with Rudyard Kipling’s writings and/or his life.

Kipling himself, an active and dedicated writer for nearly sixty years, won the Nobel Prize for Literature at the age of 42.  He had decided views about the craft of writing, as we report on our page On Writing.



1. Entries should be a maximum of 2000 words excluding the title. There is no minimum length.
2. Entries must be original. Plagiarism will not be accepted. The story or sketch must not have been published previously, either in print or online or in any other media.
3. Competitors give their permission for the winning entries to be published in the Kipling Journal, and subsequently on the Kipling Society’s websit,
4. Entries must be submitted as Word attachments to emails addressed to They must be unsigned, but must have on their title line the writer’s initials in reverse order. These reversed order initials must
appear in the accompanying email, together with the writer’s name and contact details (email, telephone number, postal address).
5. There is an entry charge of £8 for each entry, to be paid to the Kipling Society.  A link for payment will shortly be available here.
6. The competition will open on 1 March 2022, and will close on 1 May 2022 at 11.59 pm, BST.

Another World-wide reading session

Our next world-wide reading session on zoom for Kipling Society members is on Wednesday December 8th at 18.00 GMT (doors open from 17.45.)

If you would like to read a poem or some lines from a story or article  – up to three minutes – contact Jan Montefiore ( with details. The link will be the same as for previous sessions.  If you do not have it contact

After the event you can contact John for the link to the recording.

The February Meeting

Wednesday, 9 February 2022 5.30pm for 6.00 pm – at the Royal Overseas League and on zoom.  Richard Howell on ‘One Spot Beloved Over All’ – The Kiplings and the Bateman’s Estate.’

In September 1902 Kipling, with his wife Carrie, moved into Bateman’s, the Jacobean iron-master’s house in the Weald of Sussex, which became his cherished home for the rest of his life.

It is a place surrounded by the relics of its past, under Pook’s Hill, with the Downs beyond, some twelve miles from where the Roman Legions landed at Pevensey, as did the Normans a thousand years later. Centuries before the Romans came men had smelted iron in the Wealden forests.

In Bateman’s the Kiplings settled into English life, in the midst of Old England.

Richard Howell lives in Sussex and knows Bateman’s and its surrounding valley intimately. In 2020 he completed a master’s degree in Country House Studies at the University of Buckingham, writing his dissertation on the development of the estate under the Kiplings, using the estate records held at The Keep, at the University of Sussex. The dissertation describes the Kipling’s gradual acquisition of their land, field by field, and the interest in land management and agriculture that emerged through Rudyard’s friendship with Rider Haggard.

The April Meeting

April 13th 2022 at 1800 GMT on Zoom: members are invited to join Dr Toby Parker, the Society’s Honorary Archivist and John Walker, our Hon. Librarian, in a celebration of rare or unusual books and ephemera to be found at Haileybury, and in your own collections.

The Society’s Library, now housed at Haileybury in Hertfordshire, is a research collection, which has been steadily built up since the Society was founded, in 1927. It offers all of Kipling’s published work, including rare and unauthorised editions, selections and translations, both historic and brand new.

Biography and criticism are well covered, and there are also biographies of contemporaries, and a significant range of specialist works on such relevant subjects as the British Army and the history and politics of India. A selection of photographs, cuttings and ephemera is available, and much of this is being digitised for easier use.

Haileybury, of course, has its own important collection of similar material, including unique items linked to Kipling’s days at United Services College.

Altogether, we can claim to have one of the best facilities for researchers and enthusiasts, now housed at Haileybury.

John Walker

A Facelift for the Web-site

Over the past year we have been reviewing and extending the web-site and New Readers’ Guide, before transferring it to the WordPress platform on November 8th, which has many technical and editorial advantages.

Since 2001 we have developed the New Readers’ Guide, a work of many hands which builds on the efforts in the 1960s of Reginald Harbord and his colleagues. By 2020 we had annotated all the published and uncollected verse, stories, speeches, and most of the known articles, including those recently disinterred by Tom Pinney.

To encourage more users of the web to read Kipling, we are now placing more emphasis on the writings themselves rather than the notes. We have added many illustrations, and created a new linking system, with many cross-references to the KJ archive. We have brought the text of some 450 works onto the site rather than linking to them elsewhere.

We have extended the search facilities, adding a search of the whole site, and systems for sharing ideas through social media

This work is largely complete, though there may still be  still some  loose ends here and there.  Please email any comments or suggestions  to  We are always on the look-out for ways of improving the site; and we are giving a lot of thought to how we can develop it further, and bring Kipling’s writings s to wider audiences around the world.

John Radcliffe



The John McGivering Poetry Competition

Poems of Travel

Joint First Prize: Siobhan Flynn and Peter Sutton   


(Almost) Sestina of the Seasoned Traveller

I used to make big plans to see it all,
to travel all the way around this world.
Maybe give up the daily grind for good,
take my time, it wouldn’t matter how long
it would take to get this expedition done,
then I’d choose my favourite place and wait to die.

I’ve always loved Italy, so Sicily could be good
eating pasta con le sarde and cannoli ’til I die,
but sometimes it’s too hot and I would long
to be somewhere cool with snow blanketing all,
like St Petersburg in mid-winter, a twilight world
of cosy evenings sipping sbiten and reading Donne.

But do I need extremes when all is said and done?
Maybe a temperate climate, an in-between is good,
somewhere in the middle latitudes of the world
where plants without constant attention will not die.
I don’t want to have to labour in the garden after all
to have something lovely to look at the whole year long,

like the gardens of Versailles, or the view along
the flower fields of Keukenhof, the gardening done
by other people without any effort on my part at all,
maybe enjoy hanami in spring in Japan, it’s all good.
But everywhere has a season, plants bloom then die,
so what are the things that last forever in this world?

Everybody that I meet on my travels in the world;
shared meals, the conversations on a train, the long
journeys made shorter, friendships that will never die,
the kindness offered and the favours done,
the delight most people take in doing good,
these things can happen anywhere at all.

There are wonders in this world, amazing things are done,
but it’s where love is that I belong, that’s what feels good.
It’s not important where I die, it’s life that matters after all.


Shipping Out

Lurching across a sea of slime, glancing from side to side,
the youngster who’s the skipper of the good ship
launched with such grandeur and swept by the tide,
is watching for whiz-bangs and flares.

Where are the shells and the shallows, the slips and wreck-strewn shoals,
the crown-and-anchor shadows, and the rips and shrouds and reefs,
whose are those voices of wandering souls
reminding of childish beliefs?

Wiping the sleep from landlocked eyes, checking the compass
he keeps his course to eastward, to confront the blood-red test,
ready to follow the squadron he chose
away from the isles of the blest.

Knowing he must maintain his way if he’s to stay in line,
he clamps his helm amidships and he scans the fog ahead,
hearing the leadsman rewinding the twine
to read out the name on the lead.

He did not sail to foreign lands, learning how others live,
to Africa, to India, Brazil, as I have done,
only the once to the trenches to give
his life for a kingdom. My son.

Second Prize: John Gallas


‘The Yellow-Blinded Fale’

So somewhere I arrived, who travelled dumb
and careless there by plane and bus and bumboat,
bored, with fading worry and in light as gleaned as glass,
till sleepysoft I stood, a little shaky in the sun,
and watched the sea wash up towards my toes:
and saw the waves’ whole softly pumping ring
around me and this place, smaller than my mother’s lawn.

A few bent trees. Some bunches of bamboo, a little torn,
fingering the light. One hot ’aute bush, purple-burned.
Nothing more. Even the sea said hush around my feet
as if it asked why move? The only house is near enough:
two yellow wall-blinds tied between the two blue vasts and me,
like squares of sunshine’s skin. Imagine: in the atlas of my soul
I could not make a thing so emptied of all thought.

It was not beauty, but a blanch: and I dissolved, brought,
outdone and dazzled, to an island blank and bare as being.
Later, who knows when, the bumboat burbled back to pick me
who had not moved. The yellow squares took fire.
I watched them fall astern, distilling to a tiny orange flare.
I found a sticky seedpod in my hand. But not one memory.
Only the yellow blinds between the sea, the sky, and me.

fale (Samoan): an open-sided house with a thatched roof
’aute (Samoan) hibiscus plant


Judges’ Report
By Harry Ricketts and Jan Montefiore


The general standard of entries was high, and exhilarating to read. Only a minority of entries engaged with Kipling’s work, but the topic of travel was almost always handled with liveliness and skill. Siobhán Flynn’s ‘(Almost) Sestina of the Seasoned Traveller’ and Peter Sutton’s ‘Shipping Out’ were jointly awarded First Prize of £200 each, and John Gallas the second prize of £100 for ‘The Yellow-Blinded

‘(Almost) Sestina of the Seasoned Traveller” riffs brilliantly on  Kipling’s ‘Sestina of the Tramp-Royal’, while standing on its own  feet as an independent poem. It handles the complex sestina skilfully,  ringing fresh and lively changes on the theme of travel and sounding  natural throughout. The conclusion differs from ‘Sestina of the Tramp-Royal’, but Kipling might not have disagreed with it.

‘Shipping out’ is a moving and accomplished poem that skilfully deploys the figure of sea-crossing in Kipling’s imagined elegy for hi son’s death in World War I. The allegory of battling a storm for trench
warfare works admirably, as does the subtle allusion, via the phrase ‘isles of the blest’, to Kipling’s own deployment of a similar metaphor to very different ends in his poem ‘The Three-Decker.’

‘The Yellow-Blinded Fale’ was the finest of many submitted poems of travel: an intelligent meditation on an experience of thought overcome by visual/sensual experience, carried off very well indeed. Form
and diction are very accomplished, with subtle use of half-rhyme and  linking between stanzas. Though not directly connected with Kipling, this poem was too good not to be in the top three.


Highly Commended:

‘Chinaperson Messages’ by Hadyn John Adams
‘A Scottish Lament’ by Jonathan Campbell
‘Humans’ by Verity Crosswell
‘A Tale from the Plain’ by Carol Gilfillan
‘Having Good Time’ by Gabriele Griffin
‘Immigrant’ by Candy Neubert
‘I Walk before Noon’ by Marjory Woodfield



Mike Kipling’s October  Newsletter gives details of our forthcoming  meetings, and includes  the next part of the extended article by Tonie and Valmai Holt on  “Coincidences in the careers of Kipling and Bruce Bairnfather”  (left), the young officer  whose cartoons from the Great War trenches made him famous.

Mike also reports on his researches into RK’s lesser known Yorkshir uncles, and on some extracts from the Civil and Military Gazette, the Lahore newspaper for which Kipling worked for five years from the age of sixteen.

Past Newsletters

We send out Newsletters every couple of  months, with details of future meetings, reports on events, and articles on subjects large and small. These are emailed to Members and accessible on this site, as are  past newsletters with a mention of some of a great many articles and notices:

What’s new on this site

We have created four new sections for the site, “Current Kipling Research“, “Sharing great reads” for reading groups, “On Writing” with Kipling’s advice on his subtle craft, and “For young readers”.

This section covers the Jungle Books, the Puck Stories, Land and Sea Tales, and the Just So Stories . We are now offering the full texts of Just So, with both Kipling’s own illustrations and the little known colour plates by Joseph Gleeson, made for the 1912 Doubleday edition. You can also listen to six of the stories.

Amazon have just published a third e-book, Letters of Marque to follow Plain Tales from the Hills and Soldiers Three, as a Kindle application, price in UK £2.25.

It includes David Page’s notes on the articles. Like the two earlier collections it has been put together very elegantly by Tom White in California, in close collaboration with the Society.

Tom White has recently updated Plain Tales from the Hills. If you have bought this from Amazon you can get the updated version via your Amazon account by going to Manage your Content and Devices, locating the book, and opting to have your copy updated.

If you are not already using the Kindle app you will need to download it to your computer, and specify this to Amazon when you buy the e-book. They will then download the book to the specified device.

Philip Holberton’s notes on the uncollected poems written in India, while Kipling was working as Assistant Editor of the Civil and Military Gazette and later for the Pioneer, are now complete.

The last of these, on Kipling’s journey home in 1889, and his arrival in London, are:

“Verse letter to Sidney Low”
“Verses from letter to Andrew Lang”
“There once were four people at Euchre”
“Verse Fragments and Limericks”
“In the City of Berlin”
“A Ballade of Indian Tea”
“Caroline Taylor”
“Verses on fruit plates”
“The Owl”

We have recently published an illustrated article by John Walker on “Kipling’s Cars” the fruits of many weeks of work, and years of experience.

Alastair Wilson has annotated a little known uncollected poem, The Buttercup, a list of wildflowers in rhyme, written in the flyleaf of a French volume on plant names by Gaston Bonnier.

A Kipling playlist on Spotify


Mike Kipling has put together this Spotify playlist with a selection of Kipling-related music containing both his verses set to music and music inspired by his works. If there is something you know is already on Spotify and would like to see added, please let Mike know at


And on our YouTube channel you can hear seven Just So Stories.