The letter written
in the attic

(notes by Philip Holberton, drawing on the researches of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


Kipling’s handwritten version in Notebook 1, dated 24 March [1882], with subheading ‘Portobello Road 2 A.M.’ A subsequent note dated 7 July 1884, when Kipling was working in Lahore as a journalist, reads ‘Vile from first to last and tedious’. In the 1880’s Portobello Road was a working class area between the large new residential developments of Paddington and Notting Hill. See Rutherford p. 24 for details of Notebook 1.

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford p. 135, and Pinney p. 1643.

The Poem

The letter is written after a final lovers’ quarrel. His love has accused him (falsely) of being unfaithful. He knew who spread the lie, but when he tried to explain she hit him, and he is too proud to forgive the blow.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved