Another world-wide session of Kipling readings

On Wednesday 11 May, 18.00 to 20.00 BST, Jan Montefiore led another on-line session of short readings by members (maximum three minutes) from Kipling’s writings, from poems and stories.

This session included poems on Soldiers, Sailors, Art, Women, and Nature, and we had speakers from Britain, America and New Zealand.


Verse on our Facebook page

After three years of posts titled ‘Verse of the Week’, we have over six hundred followers, though with sharing this multiplies up. On March 20th for example, we had a ‘reach’ of more than six thousand.

That was one of several posts recently recognising the plight, and the courage of the Ukrainian people. Kipling speaks for many in time of war, and even though we aim to avoid ever repeating a choice (156 so far) there are still pieces that are very relevant.

However, we must also offer some variety. Do feel free to sign on and post your own suggestion, with some note of its significance to you.

John Walker

In the Kipling Library, April 13th

April 13th 2022 at 1800 BST on Zoom: members joined  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 Kipling researchers and enthusiasts, now housed at Haileybury.

John Walker

Our March Newsletter

In his Newsletter Mar2022, Mike Kipling gives details of future meeting and reports on past events, including Richard Howell’s account of the development of the Bateman’s Estate as the Kipling’s acquired more land over the years.

He also writes of Kipling’s lesser-known uncles, the sale and history of a fine Georgian house at Bewdley once owned by Kipling’s fMacdoald forebears, a cutting from the Civil and Military Gazette with its first mention of Kipling, and an intriguing list of recent bequests compiled by John Walker

The Newsletter is emailed to members for whom we hold an email address. Any member who is not currently receiving an online copy of the Newsletter and would like their name to be added to the mailing list should email the Membership Secretary, Fiona Renshaw, at

Writing with Kipling
Our new prize for 2022

Following our successful poetry competition, we have been runnung a John McGivering writing competition for fiction or memoir on ‘Animals’. Entries closed on May 1st and are being  judged  by Jan Montefiore, 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’.

 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.


After the Facelift

This new WordPress version of the web-site is now running painlessly, as we hope you are finding.  Through Google Analytics we now have a great deal more feedback data. In December we averaged 2120 views a day. By the end of  March this had increased by some 40% to around 3000.

The most popular poems are “The White Man’s Burden“, “Mandalay“, and “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.” The most widely read story has been that sad and moving tale  “The Gardener”. On many days there have been more users in North America than in the U.K., with India as the next largest readership.

We are currently working on some new pages on Kipling Studies, which include details of recent publications and conferences, together with material on Kipling and Empire to inform current debates. We are also listing the profiles of academics and writers working in the field, and are planning to set up a discussion forum for researchers.   [J.R.]

A Diversity of Kipling

On August 12th/13th 2017, for 24 hours, we mounted a 24 hr reading of Kipling’s works, arranged by John Walker, then Chairman of the Society, which was a splendidly successful occasion.

A programme of one-hour edited highlights has been produced and can be found on-line here. We can now make copies of this highlights programme available to members on DVD (including photographs of the event and other images) or CD (just the soundtrack) to listen to on their own computer, TV or CD player. These, attractively boxed, might also make a handy Christmas or birthday present for family or friends.

We suggest a donation to the Society of £10 per copy. Payment can be by PayPal, transfer to the Society’s bank account or by cheque (in £, US$ or €) payable to ‘The Kipling Society’ Please send your orders or requests for further information to our Treasurer, Mike Kipling, either by e-mail at, telephone at 0780 168 0516 or mail to Bay Tree House, Doomsday Garden, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 6LB.

John Walker

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


Past Newsletters


Mike Kipling sends 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 mentions of a great many articles and notices:

Any member who is not currently receiving an online copy of the Newsletter and would like their name to be added to the mailing list should email the Membership Secretary, Fiona Renshaw, at


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.