Notes by David Alan Richards

Echoes was the second of three Kipling family publications of the teenage writer’s work, beginning with Schoolboy Lyrics in 1881 and concluding with Quartette of 1885, before Rudyard’s self-published first edition of Departmental Ditties in 1886 began his remarkable ascent to fame.

Although the title page lacks a printer, place or date, Echoes was published in August of 1884 (to judge from the inscription dates of presentation copies sent that month to England) on the press of Kipling’s newspaper employer, the Civil and Military Gazette, where it was first advertised for sale on 8 September 1884.

The anonymous publishers were the Kipling family – or more likely, Rudyard himself, who wrote in the blank preliminary pages of his diary of 1885 (now at Harvard University): “Year’s work. Published Echoes for which secured good reviews and the sale of the 1st edition of 150 copies.” Apparently the publication expense was nil. In a letter to his aunt Edith Macdonald (28 April 1884), he wrote:

“The printer J. C. Chalmers declares that…the cost to your humble servant will be just nothing while he has the pick of some tons of the newest type”. [at the Civil and Military Gazette] “Moral. Be a journalist and you can publish as you please.”

The edition sold out and the unanticipated profits enabled Kipling to buy a new horse.