Between the gum pot and the shears

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


In 1936 Mrs. Edmonia Hill had an article ‘The Young Kipling’ published in the Atlantic Monthly (Vol. clvii, pp. 406-15), and another ‘My Friend, Rudyard Kipling’ in The Classmate (Vol xlv 17 September 1938 p. 7). Both are reprinted in Harold Orel,  Interviews and Recollections Volume 1, p. 91.


Mrs Hill describes how she and and her husband became friendly with Kipling when he moved from Lahore to Allahabad, how on 2 March 1888, he presented her with a copy of Plain Tales from the Hills with this poem as an inscription, and how he accompanied them on the greater part of his journey home from India in 1889, through Asia and across America. He was twenty-two at this time, and she seven years older.

The poem was clearly written especially for Mrs Hill. It was not collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 395) and Pinney (p. 1876). Kipling dated it March ’88.

Harold Orel writes:

Edmonia Hill was married to S. A. Hill, a meteorologist in Government service, appointed to a science professorship at Muir Central College, Allahabad, in 1887. She came from Beaver, Pennsylvania, and was widely known by her nickname ‘Ted’. She proved to be a warm-hearted friend and discerning critic. Kipling lived in the Hills’ bungalow in Allahabad during his last year in India …. Edmonia was Kipling ‘s closest confidante in the late 1880s.

See also  Andrew Lycett pp. 155-7 and Thomas Pinney (Ed.) Letters of Rudyard Kipling vol 1
pp. 157-257.

Notes on the Text

the gum-pot and the shears one of Kipling’s duties as Assistant Editor of the Civil and Military Gazette and Editor of The Pioneer Weekly was to cut interesting items from other newspapers and paste them into his current journal.

my grimy trade journalism.

All’s fish From the saying ‘All’s fish that comes to my net’, meaning ‘I can make some use of any and everything’.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved