Rudyard Kipling
in Sickness and in Health

Kipling’s complaints over the years

(by Gillian Sheehan)

For this account of Rudyard Kipling’s health over the years of his life, from 1865 to 1936, Dr Sheehan has drawn on many sources, including letters, the diary kept by Caroline Kipling throughout their married life, the magisterial 1999 biography by Andrew Lycett, and various personal reminiscences.



John Lockwood Kipling married Alice Macdonald in St Mary Abbot’s Church, Kensington on 18 March 1865. They were both 28 years old. JLK was to take up the post of Professor of Architectural Studies at the Jeejeebhoy School of Art in Bombay. On 12 April they sailed for India.

Rudyard Kipling was born at 10.00 p.m. on 30.12.1865 Apparently his mother had been in labour for 6 days before being delivered. Whether this long labour had anything to do with his intelligence and/or his clumsiness is not known. But it might have.


Feb 1868 Alice was pregnant for the second time. She took Rudyard back to England. He behaved disgracefully on the voyage home and was so obnoxious for almost 5 months while staying with his maternal grandparents, that his conduct was thought to hasten the death of his grandfather. Rudyard’s sister, Alice, better known as ‘Trix’ was born on 11.6.1868 after another difficult labour. They all returned to India in November.


April 1870 Rudyard’s brother, John, was born in Bombay, but died after a few days.
During the hot weather that year the Kipling family went to the hill station of Nassik, 120 miles away. While there both Rudyard and his father were ill with fever. Rudyard was given a special treat of honey mixed with jam when he was recuperating. JLK made a drawing of him, “Ruddy’s Idea of Heaven”. A nice treat but very bad for his teeth.

During the first five years of his life RK was cared for mainly by native servants and led a very pampered existence. At times he showed aggression towards his ayah, pulling her hair, and even biting her on one occasion.


April 1871 JLK having taken leave from his job, the family returned to England. They had what must have been for the children a lovely seaside holiday at Littlehampton in Sussex. But on 1.10.1871 Rudyard and Trix were left in the care of Captain Pryse Holloway and his wife at Lorne Lodge, 5 Campbell Road, Havelock Park, Southsea,

The Holloways ran a boarding house, taking in children whose parents were stationed in India. The five year-old Rudyard and three year old Trix had no prior warning that their parents were returning to India without them. Rudyard hated Mrs Holloway and this House of Desolation where he lived for five years and three months.

He had occasional holidays at the house of his aunt, Georgiana Burne Jones (right) at The Grange, North End Road. RK seems to have got on well with Captain Holloway, but hated Mrs Holloway and their son Harry. Andrew Lycett describes her as ‘the zealous tartar who chastised Rudyard and made his life intolerable’. Even his clumsiness was punished.

I feel sure that the unhappiness of these years had a profound influence on Kipling’s mental development.
During one of his visits to The Grange his Aunt Georgiana saw him striking out at a tree in the garden. He told her he thought the tree might have been his grandmother and hit it to find out. In January 1877 Georgiana wrote to her sister Alice, Rudyard’s mother, advising her to come home because of his deteriorating vision. He was found to have astigmatism and had to wear glasses.

But astigmatism was not the only problem. He appears to have been having hallucinations and seeing things that were not there. This worried him even more than Mrs Holloway did. His mother arrived back in England in March 1877 and took Rudyard and Trix to stay on a farm on the edge of Epping Forest. He appears to have been very happy here. In the autumn they moved to a lodging house on the Brompton Road in London. Here he appears to have had insomnia and used to walk around the house at night. In December they moved to the home of the Craik sisters and Miss Winnard in Warwick Gardens. He enjoyed the books as well as the ‘peace, kindliness and patience’ he found there.


In January 1878 Rudyard became a boarder at the United Services College, Westward Ho!, Devon. Initially he was very unhappy there. But he made friends with George Beresford (‘Turkey’) who was in the same class (Lower Third) and then with L.C.Dunsterville (‘Stalky’). He apparently did his best to avoid playing games. But whether this was because of his bad eyesight or clumsiness or that he just didn’t want to is unclear.

When he had mumps, measles, rubella are unknown. But in a letter to his cousin Stanley Baldwin in Dec 1878 he mentioned that he had had chicken pox “some time ago”. He is said to have looked much older than his age and to have had ‘the outline of a black-haired moustache’ ( Andrew Lycett p.57)
During the autumn term that year he suffered from ‘very troublesome boils’. This may have been severe acne.


In the summer of 1880, while on a brief visit to Southsea, to bring his sister away from there, he met and fell in love with Florence Garrard.

In August 1880 when staying with his mother in Warwick Gardens Rudyard was ‘very ill with Quinsy’. While recovering he wrote “The Song of the Sufferer”.

In a letter to his aunt Edith Macdonald thought to have been written in January 1881, K, who was back at school, complained that he had a swollen gland in his neck and was being ‘regularly blistered with iodine in consequence’. This swollen gland may have been due to another less severe attack of tonsillitis.
Summer 1881 (approx) K had thoughts of studying medicine and visited St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, several times. But watching a post-mortem made him very sick and he gave up the idea.


In March 1882 he wrote that his hernia had ‘been playing all sorts of little games of late’
and in consequence he had done very little work for two weeks. I think it is very unlikely that he had a hernia.

In May 1882 in a letter to Mrs John Tavenor Perry he complained that he had been ‘rather unwell and upset’. He blamed the summer heat. He had been working very hard, writing articles for local newspapers as well as his schoolwork. He believed that his affair with Florence Garrard was over. He complained that he had bad headache and that ‘the letters are hopping about in front of my eyes’. This may have been migraine.
July 1882 he left the USC and spent his summer holiday with his Aunt Georgiana and her family at Rottingdean before sailing for India on 20 September.

In November 1882 he started work as Assistant Editor on the Civil & Military Gazette in Lahore. His office hours were meant to be 10 a.m. to 4.15 p.m. but he usually worked from 10 to 15 hours a day. His Editor, Stephen Wheeler, apparently taught him accuracy and discipline, but it appears they did not like each other much. [SeeSomething of Myself pp. 40/41]


In February he was upset when hissed at in the Punjab club because the C&MG supported the unpopular Ilbert Bill to allow Indian judges to try white people in the courts.

In June he wrote to his aunt Edith Macdonald calling himself her ‘parboiled nephew’ and boasting that although he had been in India almost a year he hadn’t ‘been seedy once in liver or stomach or head’.

But in November 1883 he mentions how unpleasant it is to be living alone and ‘down with dysentery or Lahore fever’. His mother had gone to England in late July and his father was in Calcutta working on a display for the Calcutta Exhibition.


In April 1884 he became ill while taking part in amateur theatricals. In a letter to Edith Macdonald he complained of headaches and ‘all sorts of disturbances’ in his eyes. The doctor advised him to take things a bit easier at work until he could go to a hill station for a break.

In late May 1884 he had ‘a touch of fever’ for forty-eight hours. Probably malaria.

In July 1884 his eyes ‘were up to their old tricks again’. This may have been because Florence Garrard had written to him breaking off their understanding/engagement. He says he cured it by working sixteen hours a day.

In mid-September 1884 he developed very severe abdominal and leg cramps. Chlorodyne brought no relief. His servant, Noor Ali, made him smoke an opium pipe. This relieved his pains but gave him the sensation of falling through the floor. Next day he felt ‘dull and thick-headed’ and in the C&MG office he was thought to be suffering from ‘advanced intoxication’. Kipling’s opinion of opium was that it was ‘an excellent thing in itself and in moderation about as harmful as tobacco’
(Andrew Lycett p.96).

There is no direct evidence that Kipling smoked opium on other occasions but in writing “The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows” he shows a good working knowledge of its effects.

Chlorodyne: was invented in the nineteenth century by Dr John Collis Browne, a doctor in the British Indian Army:its original purpose was in the treatment of cholera. Browne sold his formula to the pharmacist John Thistlewood Davenport, who advertised it widely as a treatment for cholera, diarrhoea, insomnia, neuralgia, migraines, etc. As its principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform it readily lived up to its claims of relieving pain, as a sedative, and for the treatment of diarrhoea. [Wikipedia]


During the second week of January 1885 Kipling wrote in his diary that he was ‘feeling abominally seedy and queer in the head’. Again on 22 January he suffered from headache and fever and only did the essential work in the office. A week later he complained of headache, fever and sore throat.
24 Feb 1885 he was stung in the eye by an ant. By the following day he was unable to see and attended Dr Lawrie at the hospital. Dr Lawrie was more interested in the ‘blain’ on his face. This was a Lahore sore. His eye was better by the next day. But the Lahore sore took several months to heal.

On lst March 1885 Kipling went to Rawalpindi to cover the meeting of the Viceroy and the Amir of Afghanistan. During his time there he had great difficulty sleeping but whether this was due to the dreadful conditions in the camp or to insomnia is unclear. But it led to more problems with his eyes and headache.

In early May 1885 Kipling was on holiday in Simla and had ‘a mild attack of dysentery’.
25 May 1885 he was very conscious of the scar on his face (Lahore sore) and had to go to a Ball ‘painted up to the Eyes’.

In August while staying at Simla, Kipling is thought to have had a liaison with an unknown woman. By the following day he thought he had been a fool and may have been thinking of sexually transmitted disease. Back in Lahore a couple of weeks later he consulted the surgeon Tarelton Young who was ‘sanguine and hopeful’ The following day K recorded that the first probation period was over and his mind was ‘easier’. [See Something of Myself and other autobiographical writings (Cambridge U. Press 1990), Ed. Thomas Pinney, pp.210-211]

By 1st August his Lahore sore was said to be cured.
10 September 1885 Kipling had fever and was alone in the house at the time.
23 September 1885 he was feeling ‘seedy and queer in the head’.
25 September 1885 he complains that he had ‘a bad attack of measles on me’. But this was not measles as he was able to work the next day. It may have been prickly heat.
September 1885 Kipling had three days of fever, again when he was alone.

In October 1885 the Calcutta Review published Kipling’s poem “The Vision of Hamid Ali”. The narrator of this poem has smoked ganja ( hashish) but there is no evidence that Kipling himself smoked it.

Lockwood Kipling, in a letter to Edith Plowden in March 1885, wrote that Lahore sores were ‘common’ at the time and that Ruddy had one on his cheek. He said they lasted a long time and the doctors didn’t know how to treat them.’ (JLK to Edith Plowden, 16 March 1885:MS Sussex) When K wrote to Edith Macdonald in early August 1885, he said his face was cured but he was ‘scarred for life’. (Thomas Pinney – Ed. – Letters) Vol.1, p.82)

Lahore Sore: Cutaneous Leishmaniasis aka Delhi Boil aka Oriental Sore. Leishmania are single-celled organisms carried by sandflies in many parts of the tropics. They cause a chronic sore that can take up to a year to heal spontaneously.
‘Prickly Heat’ (Milaria): this condition is characterised by tiny vesicles and papules which feel itchy, prickly and burning. It is due to inflammation of coil glands in the skin. It can be very difficult to treat. Wearing light clothes and avoiding alcohol and heavy meals may help. Cool bran or oatmeal baths may help. Steroid creams and sprays bring temporary relief. But once a person starts getting prickly heat it can be very difficult to cure permanently. (see Solomons Bethel, Lecture Notes on Dermatology, 1965, p. 95)


May1886: the roof of the Lahore High school fell in, killing three boys. Kipling had known one of them. He was sent to report on the tragedy. The sight of the three bodies laid out and of the broken beams and the ‘death smell’ of carbolic acid upset him terribly. He managed to collect the information he needed and returned to the office where he was violently sick. He spent a terrible night having hallucinations about the three corpses.
June 1886 Kipling had a new temporary editor, E K Robinson, and got on much better with him than he had with Wheeler, who was due to return around the end of November.
10th June 1886 In a letter to Margaret Burne-Jones, Kipling gave a very good description of migraine: “One half of my head….throbs and hammers and sizzles and bangs and swears while the other half – calm and collected – takes note of the agonies next door.” His doctor told him that it was due to overwork but K thought it was because he had given up smoking for three days. (It was probably a combination of both.)

The weather was very hot and he also had insomnia. This went on for several days. His doctor treated him with injections of morphine. He tried and failed to get leeches to stick to his forehead. After a week he was feeling suicidal and asked his doctor to give him enough morphine to put him to sleep permanently. Eventually he began to feel better.
24th June the rains were making the roof of the house leak and Kipling complained that he was ‘a raw red lump of prickly heat’. He later wrote that at this time he had ‘broken down from overwork and insomnia’. He went to Simla on 3rd July where he stayed to recuperate for just over a month.


Stephen Wheeler resigned in March 1887 and E K Robinson took his place.
In November 1887 Kipling was moved to Allahabad to work on the Pioneer, the larger sister-paper of the C&MG. . Initially he spent a month in what is now Rajasthan writing articles published in the Pioneer. Moving about and living out of a suitcase must have suited him as he made no mention of illness in the few letters that have been found for this year of in his articles. (see Letters of Marque.)


In May Kipling was back in Lahore working as Editor of the C&MG while Robinson was away. He again suffered from headache and ‘a touch of common or Laurence Hall Garden fever’. By this I presume he means just ‘common or garden fever’, probably malaria. Towards the end of the month the heat was so bad he could not sleep at night. He was overworking and then began getting palpitations. His doctor told him that he had indigestion and was overworked. He advised him to ‘go slow and don’t worry’. (Letter to Edmonia Hill, 29-30 May 1888).
In early June he had ‘a go of the real fine old crusted Lahore fever’.
At the end of June there was smallpox in Allahabad and EK Robinson in Lahore had dysentery. Kipling was at Simla.
The following month Kipling had been vaccinated against smallpox and in letters to Edmonia Hill said he was ‘suffering from all the agonies of a vaccinated arm’. He complained that his arm was very itchy and said that he didn’t think vaccine made from calf lymph would have hurt so much as that made from ‘a Black Baby’. He saw the doctor again as he was now complaining of headache and heavy eyes. He was told he was ‘in for a beautiful arm’.
In October he had a nightmare that he had been ‘stung on the hand by a snake’ He put it down to indigestion. A few days later he was depressed and wrote that ‘life… is a tremendously over-rated affair just at present and I’d like to get rid of it for a little time’.


In a letter to Margaret Mackail (February 11-14, p. 285) Kipling wrote ‘The last month has been to me one long stretch of “fever an’ ague” coupled with violent sickness and mental depression, yea even to the verge of hanging myself.’ He said he had been able to work but he had been ‘down in a gulf of dark despair’. His doctors advised him ‘quit’ which he took to mean to leave the country. Edmonia Hill had become dangerously ill in January and this may have contributed to his depression. Also some of his acquaintances In Allahabad had died, or were dying, of smallpox. When he went to Lahore about a week later his mother told him he looked very well ‘for a sick man’ and she thought he had put on weight.

3rd March  Kipling left India, sailing from Calcutta to Rangoon with his friends the Hills. From there they sailed to Singapore with a stop at Moulmein on the way. And then on to Hong Kong. Kipling appears to have suffered some sort of depressive episode when they visited Canton. According to Andrew Lycett ‘he was unnerved by the steely hostility of the Chinese’.

They next visited Japan which Kipling liked. From there they sailed to San Francisco where they arrived on 28th May. The Hills travelled on to Pennsylvania while he remained in San Francisco alone. He had a bad fright when he witnessed a gun-fight in a Chinese tenement. He also developed severe toothache and had to visit a dentist who filled the tooth. But by the next day his face was so swollen that his left eye was closed. He tried another ‘firm’ of dentists where he endured a very painful preparation to have the offending tooth crowned.

He apparently enjoyed himself travelling through Oregon, Vancouver, Montana, Yellowstone National Park and Chicago. But in a letter to Mrs Hill (23rd June) he confessed that, from time to time, he fell into ‘horrible moods of depression and general misery’. He eventually reached Beaver in Pennsylvania where the Hills were staying with Mrs Hill’s parents. Beaver was strictly Methodist and Kipling had to obtain a doctor’s prescription if he wanted alcohol which was then dispensed by the local pharmacist.
For the journey from Calcutta onwards across the Pacific and the United States, see From Sea to Sea.
25th September: He left New York accompanied by Edmonia Hill and her sister Caroline (Carrie) Taylor and their cousin. According to Andrew Lycett he had become unofficially engaged to Carrie two weeks after arriving in Beaver.

5th October: They arrived in Liverpool and Kipling went to London. After a few days with his aunt at North End House he moved into rooms in Embankment Chambers, Villiers Street.

25th October Edmonia Hill and Caroline Taylor sailed for India. Kipling was very lonely without them. A week later he had a mild attack of ‘Indian fever’ which made him shake for wighten hours. He continued to work hard but London was a very different place to Allahabad and Lahore and Simla and he was lonely and depressed.


In January Kipling suffered a nervous breakdown. He wrote that he could ‘neither work nor think nor read’. He was advised to take a break from work and go away somewhere. Where did he go? Around this time his engagement to Carrie Taylor ended.

In the Spring of 1890 Kipling was introduced to Wolcott Balestier and they quickly became friends.
In May his parents returned from India. He spent four days in Paris visiting Flo Garrard.
In June. Wolcott Balestier’s mother and sisters arrived in London.
In August he wrote (to Margaret Clifford) that he was very tired and ‘awful worried’. In a second letter a few days later he said ‘I am nearly broked in two. I have done my two books an’ I’m dead tired and frabjous an’ muzzy about the head.’

On 4th October the Athenaeum reported that Kipling had broken down from overwork and had been ordered to take a sea voyage. He went to Sorrento, near Naples, and stayed with Lord Dufferin, the former Viceroy of India, who was now British Ambassador to Italy. Kipling is thought to have met Wolcott’s sister Caroline for the first time in late November.


In January Kipling was longing to go back to the sunshine of Lahore. He had a brief holiday at Brighton with his parents, hoping to find sunshine there.
In May Kipling and his uncle Fred Macdonald went to New York to see Fred’s brother Harry who was dying of cancer of the throat. Unfortunately he died while they were at sea. Kipling returned almost immediately.
In July Kipling was again advised to stop all work and take a sea voyage. He left from Southampton on 22nd August and reached Cape Town on 10th September. After two weeks there he went on to Wellington, New Zealand arriving there on 18th October. After exploring the North and South Islands he went on to Australia, reaching Melbourne on 18th November. He sailed from Adelaide to Colombo on 25th November. He eventually arrived in Lahore on 17th or 18th December.

24th December: Kipling learnt by cable from Caroline Balestier that her brother Wolcott had died of typhoid in Dresden on 6th December. She urged Rudyard to come back to her, and he immediately set out for London, arriving there on 10th January1892.






18th January: Kipling married Caroline (Carrie) Balestier in London. Most of their relatives had ’flu and could not attend the brief ceremony.
3rd February: the newlyweds, accompanied by Mrs Balestier and her other daughter Josephine, sailed from Liverpool to New York.

Mid-February: They went to Brattleboro, Vermont, home of the Balestiers.

March: They travelled across North America to Vancouver.

4th -20th April : They sailed from Vancouver to Japan.

9th June: The New Oriental Banking Corporation failed leaving Kipling and his wife virtually penniless.

27th June:They left Japan and sailed to Vancouver.

9th August: They arrived back in Brattleboro.

29th December: Kipling’s daughter, Josephine, was born.


Kipling does not appear to have had any illness worth reporting but in November, according to Carrie’s diary, he was continually going to the dentist.

During this year they built their own house, ‘Naulakha’ on a hillside, looking across to Mount Monadnock. Carrie took over the management of all practical matters and Rudyard was writing freely. Before long their money worries were behind them.






In February Kipling received a letter from Trix about his mother that made him worry so much that he was unable to work.

May 22nd: The Jungle Book is published in England and America.


December 3rd: Robert Louis Stevenson (left) died. Kipling read of his death in the newspaper on Dec 18th. According to Carrie’s diary this upset him so much that he was unable to work for a week.



In a letter to Margaret Mackail he recalls how, when he was a small boy staying with his Aunt Georgie at The Grange, he had croup and slept in his aunt’s room and woke up to find himself in a mustard bath.
In early November Kipling and Carrie both had colds.

Croup or Acute Laryngeal Stridor is a harsh crowing noise occurring in inspiration in infants. It is caused by any disorder that causes narrowing of the laryngeal inlet such as viral or bacterial infection of the larynx. [G.S.]


According to Andrew Lycett (p.302) in the start of 1896 Dr James Conland, their doctor, who became a close family friend, referred Kipling to a specialist in Boston because of his ‘black moods’.
2nd February: Kipling’s second daughter Elsie was born at Naulakha.

6th May: Beatty Balestier (left), Carrie’s younger brother, lived nearby and had overseen the building of Naulakha. He was charming, loved a drink and a yarn, didn’t have much money, and what he had he spent. Carrie, his strong-minded wealthy elder sister felt the need to manage him, which he resented. One day, in an encounter on a woodland trail, Beatty threatened to kill Rudyard, who took the threat seriously, and sued him. The conflict was to destroy their happiness in their home, and lead to their departure from Vermont.
7th May: K could not work.

12th May: Beatty’s hearing. This was much publicised, and Kipling was deeply humiliated. The case was postponed until September.
13th May: Carrie wrote in her diary that Kipling was ‘a total wreck. Sleeps all the time. Dull, listless and weary’.
14th May: Kipling was very miserable. Two days later, in a letter to Rudolph Block he said he was ‘slowly recovering’ and that he felt as if a gallon and a half of apomorphine, a strong emetic, had been injected into his soul.

Apomorphine: Subcutaneous injection causes vomiting within a few minutes and it is used for this purpose in the treatment of non-corrosive poisoning and acute alcoholism. (from Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia) [G.S.]

19th – 23rd May: Dr Conland (left) and Kipling went to Gloucester and Boston, for research on the cod fisheries for Captains Courageous, and Kipling was ‘much better’ when he returned.
29th August: Kipling and family left Naulakha and spent a few days with their friends the Catlins who lived at Morristown, New Jersey, before sailing for England on 1st Sept. They never came back to Vermont.

September They went to live at Rock House, Maidencombe, near Torquay, in Devon. The autumn was wet and windy. In Something of Myself Kipling recalled how both he and Carrie had felt ‘a gathering blackness of mind and sorrow of the heart’ which he said they blamed on the climate, but he thought it was the
of the house. But they didn’t leave the house until the following May.
23rd September: Kipling had toothache.
Early November: The weather was ‘nearly perfect’. Kipling had been doing a lot of cycling and, as a result, had developed toothache and neuralgia.

5th December: Carrie reported Kipling had to go to the dentist again.


11 May the family left Torquay and moved into the Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington.
During May Kipling went on the three-hour steam-trials of a new destroyer, HMS Foam. The vibrations were so bad that he felt his ‘false-teeth shaking in (his) head’. (I suppose he acquired these dentures between November 1896 and May 1897.) according to Andrew Lycett (p. 295) Kipling had recently spent long hours at the local dentist, who had used arsenic dressings as pain-killers.

2 June the family went to stay at North End House, Rottingdean.
17th August John was born at North End House.
25th September they moved into the Elms, nearby.
At the end of December Kipling consulted a specialist in London about the ‘darkness and gloom’ that had enveloped him since April. He had thought the problem due to ‘liver’ but the specialist said he had a colon distended by wind and that he smoked too much. (See Andrew Lycett p.302 and letter to James M Conland 17-18 Dec) He was given a tonic and told to stop smoking, advice that he frequently received and never took.

Liver: Congestion of the liver implied excess blood in and distension of part or all of the organ. It was thought to be caused by overcrowding, a sedentary life, too much sleep especially in the daytime, excessive eating and drinking, rich and hotly-seasoned food, stimulating liquors. In the Tropics it was thought to be due to over-exposure to the sun, becoming too hot and excessive perspiration.

The symptoms included depression of spirits, poor appetite, headache, nausea, irregular bowel motions and a sense of fullness in the right side.

Treatment consisted of a pill containing Podophyllum resin, rhubarb, and extract of Hyoscyamus. Mustard leaves were applied over the liver and the patient was advised to take moderate exercise such as horse-riding. (from Moore, William, Manual of Family Medicine and Hygiene for India, p.278-9) [G.S.]


8th January the family + JLK left Southampton and sailed via Madeira to Cape Town, South Africa. In April Kipling wrote to Dr Conland saying he was feeling much better but sometimes ‘the black cloud comes down over me’ They returned to England in the middle of April. Kipling took up horse riding when they returned to Rottingdean, but, according to Andrew Lycett p.306, was thrown twice and badly shaken and reverted to riding a bicycle rather than a horse.

17th June Edward Burne Jones, husband of Kipling’s Aunt Georgiana, died suddenly at his home The Grange, North End Road, London.

Kipling was terribly upset and was unable to work the following day.


In early January Kipling went to London to see an oculist.
25 Jan – 2 Feb the family sailed from Liverpool to New York. The children got bad colds on the voyage. By 4th Feb, according to Carrie’s diary, they were thought to have whooping cough.
8th – 12th Feb Carrie was feverish but recovered.
20th Feb: Kipling was ‘dull’ and had fever in the night. By the next day he was too ill to get up. Dr Theodore Dunham who was married to Carrie’s sister Josephine, came and called in the specialist Dr Edward G Janeway. He diagnosed ‘inflammation in one lung’. A night nurse was employed. Three days later he had improved and was sitting up in bed working on a story (Andrew Lycett p.312) However he deteriorated when the infection spread from the right to the left lung. Pneumonia was diagnosed.

Meanwhile Josephine developed complications of whooping cough. She was moved to the home of a friend Julia de Forest. A Dr Macdonald was looking after her (Carrie’s diary). She died on 6th March. Her father was too ill to be told of her death until a week after her cremation.

Kipling gradually improved. JLK arrived on 29th March.
17th April: Kipling was moved by private railroad car from New York to Lakewood, New Jersey where they stayed at the Laurel House Hotel. But, according to Carrie’s diary, because Elsie and John had whooping cough, the hotel would not keep them and they went to a boarding house.
8th May: Kipling had put on 15 lbs while at Lakewood.
9th May: the family went to stay with their friends the Catlins at Morristown for a month.
Sometime during May, according to Carrie’s diary, Dr Conland came to see Kipling. He said his lungs had healed but he needed six months rest. Conland advised him not to spend the winters in the Northern Hemisphere.
14th June: they left New York and sailed for England. Returning to Rottingdean was very painful as K ‘saw’ Josephine in all the old familiar places and felt her presence at the Elms.
8th – 14th July: Kipling had a poisoned finger. (Carrie’s diary).
August: the family went to Scotland to stay as guests of Andrew Carnegie on his estate in Sutherland.
11th October: the start of the Boer War.
24th Oct: Carrie recorded ‘Absorbed with anxiety. Bad night.’ But did she mean herself or Kipling ?
16th December: Kipling was depressed by bad news from the war.
28th December: Kipling was in bed with ‘flu. But he was apparently better by the 31st. All the family and the nurse were ill.


There is no mention of Kipling being ill or depressed this year. He did a lot of travelling and was excited about the war in S Africa.
20th Jan – 5th Feb The family sailed for S Africa on the RMS Kinfauns Castle.
29th Feb Kipling travelled in an ambulance train to the railhead at Modder River to collect wounded after the Battle of Paardeberg.
17th Mar Kipling became a member of the staff of The Friend of the Free State in Bloemfontein.
19th Mar Kipling and troops under fire at Karee Siding.
26th Mar With her husband away Carrie became ill and depressed.
3rd April Kipling returned to Cape Town and met Mary Kingsley.

28th April Kipling returned to London.

5th June Mary Kingsley died of typhoid contracted while nursing Boer prisoners. Kipling was distressed to hear of her death.

During the summer Kipling hired a steam-driven Locomobile. He set up a rifle club at Rottingdean. He and Carrie began house hunting and inspected Bateman’s among others.
8th December: the family rsail for S Africa.


6th Mar (Josephine’s anniversary) In her diary Carrie called it ‘the saddest day of our year’.
19th May Kipling had to see a dentist in Brighton. (Letter to Charles Eliot Norton, p.54)
Mid-July Kipling was on manoeuvres with the Fleet. Carrie was depressed.
6 Aug Carrie still depressed. Andrew Lycett comments: ‘But now, as she grew increasingly neurotic and demanding, his wife threatened to become less a helpmeet attending to the necessities of his daily and business life but rather a jailer, who kept him from friends and intellectual nourishment.’
22nd Nov Kipling wrote to Julian Ralph that he had ‘a stinking cold’ due to lying out on the rifle range. 3 days later in a letter to Sarah Orne Jewett he wrote ‘one can’t be accurate with a grossly unedited catarrh and a handkerchief that won’t stay hanked, as well as a nose which (to me at present) is the most prominent fact in the universe’. (pp. 78 and 79) he was going to ‘steep (himself) in camphors and benzoins and the abominable drugs of the merchants’.


7th Jan the family arrived in Cape Town.
7th Feb Kipling had lunch with Rhodes and was shocked that he looked so ill.
26th Mar Death of Rhodes. Kipling apparently found his lumbar muscles almost as ‘sore’ as his heart after marching up Adderley Street when Rhodes’s body was taken in procession from the Houses of Parliament to the Cathedral in Cape Town. See Andrew Lycett, p. 342
16th Apr They departed S Africa
3rd May Arrived in Southampton.
1st June Peace in S Africa.
10th June K and Carrie ed Bateman’s again and got George Macdonald, K’s cousin a solicitor to purchase it for them.
24th June Kipling was ‘greatly shocked’ at the King’s illness.
26th June Kipling had a cold which prevented him having a ride in Alfred Harmsworth’s 45 horse-power racing Mercedes car. (Letter to Anna Smith Balestier, p.96)
3rd September They moved to Bateman’s, but Kipling and Carrie had to spend a few nights at the Bear Inn in Burwash as Bateman’s was not ready. They moved in on 6th Sept.( Andrew Lycett p.345)
8th Dec Kipling had had a cold (Letter to Charles Eliot Norton, p.114)
7th Nov The weather turned bitterly cold and K had a bad cough.
27th Dec The family departed Southampton, arrived in Cape Town 13th Jan.

13th Jan They arrived in Cape Town.
Andrew Lycett (p.347) notes that Kipling was smoking 40 cigarettes/day.


July In a letter to Leslie Cope Cornford Kipling mentions ‘more dentistry’. (p.157)


Nil re health in Diaries


12 June Kipling’s Aunt Agnes, Lady Poynter, died of cancer. In a letter to Edmonia Hill, 27th June, he called it ‘the family complaint’. His maternal uncle, Henry James Macdonald (Harry), had died of cancer of the throat in 1891.


Sir William Osler advised Kipling to cut down his smoking. But he didn’t pay much attention. According to Andrew Lycett, p.375, he was still smoking 30/day.
Sept: Kipling, after returning from leaving John at boarding school for the first time, was noted to be ‘grey and pinched by the pain of parting’ by his Aunt Georgiana (Burne Jones). In a letter to Cormell Price, 19th Sept, he wrote ‘John went to Stanford’s School at Rottingdean yesterday and all my old miseries (with some new ones) have returned upon me.’
December: Kipling was seasick when crossing the North Sea from Flushing, in a paddle-steamer, after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. There was a very bad gale at the time. Letter to Josephine Dunham, 16th Dec, p. 289


March: Carrie recorded in her diary: Left eyelid drooped, left side stiff, cramp on left side of face, the same that he had when we were engaged. A Shakespeare parody. Otherwise he is dull.
? Depression ? Migraine ?? Temporomandibular joint syndrome.
8th October: Sir John Bland Sutton advised Kipling to give up smoking. According to Andrew Lycett, p.400, he
stopped smoking for a short while, ‘but soon reverted to the habit’. He found it impossible to work without smoking.


29 January: see Letter to Col Feilden, p.358 : Kipling & Carrie both had colds and what he called ‘the Hotel Throat’. He said his throat felt like ‘a cross between a rat-trap and a nutmewg grater’. It was the first time he had spent a day in bed since having pneumonia in New York in 1899.
2-3 March: After a very prolonged railway journey from Engelberg to Rome, due to snow on the line, Kipling wrote to John (p.367) that his back was in 18 pieces , ‘none of which fit’.
7 May: In a letter to John, from Bateman’s, (p.375) Kipling had apparently been ill in bed with abdominal pain and fed on bread and milk and had been unable to go to Rottingdean to see John. This is the first mention of Kipling having abdominal pain which was to afflict him for years.


8 Mar : At Vernet-les-Bains, according to Carrie’s diary, Kipling swam in and drank hot sulphur water and had gargles and massage. See description in Letter to John,
Vol 3, p.413.

4 May: Cormell Price died at Brighton. Kipling went to his funeral on the 6th.

22 Nov: Kipling’s mother Alice died. In a letter to Col Feilden, p.463, Kipling said she had a heart attack and died 3 days later.


27 Jan: News reached Kipling at Engelberg that his father had died at ‘Clouds’. He left for England immediatelly.

30 Jan: JLK’s funeral. Kipling was ‘desolate’ following his father’s death. See Letters
Vol 4 p.12-13.
18 Feb: Carrie & Kipling both taking ‘the cure’ at Vernet-les-Bains.
27 Feb: Carrie recorded in her diary that Kipling was ‘incapacitated, lamed – crippled’. This was because he had sciatica. See Letters, Vol 4, p.20, note 5: on 1st Mar he was still unable to walk (Rees extracts) and on 6th
Mar he wrote to Col Feilden “for five days I had a hellish time” (ALS Syracuse).
12 Oct: In a letter to Rider Haggard Kipling wrote ‘We’re all filled with colds here and are dripping like the eaves on a south roof’ (Morton Cohen p. 73).


1st May: Kipling was recovering from a cold. (Letters Vol 4 p. 107)


8th April: Back at Bateman’s Kipling was still feeling seasick after a very bad Channel crossing. (Letters p.179)


22 Feb:Carrie & Kipling both took ‘the cure’ at Vernet-les-Bains (Carrie’s diary) Also Kipling wrote to Andrew McPhail (p.228): ‘I have been through a Course of Baths:and, within and without, and even to the marrow of my bones, I am of a purity and cleanliness and delicacy and suppleness which fills me with pride and amazement. Also I’ve drunk the beastly stuff and swum in it…’
26 June: Kipling was ill in the night. Thought to be due to overwork and over-smoking.
21 Sept:Kipling was taken ill ? while at Cherkley. He returned to Bateman’s the following day. He had great pain in his face and a temperature.
26 Sept: Improved.
28 Sept: Very tired after working for an hour and a half. He wrote to Elsie that day saying ‘I was abed for 4 full days with a variorum mixture of neuralgia, toothache and temperature.’


27 September: John wounded and missing. Kipling was informed on 2 October.
Kipling felt very ill on 27th Sept. “Gastritis” was diagnosed two days later and he was put on a strict diet.

6 Oct He had improved. He said later that it was caused by a combination of several factors:a tour in France, a visit to part of the fleet where he caught a chill, hard work and strain and anxiety following John’s disappearance at the battle of Loos. (See Note 2 p.340 Vol 4 Letters)


9 March: Kipling wrote to Dr Melsome, his doctor when in Bath, saying “My stomach is behaving with a certain decency which both pleases and surprises me. Those cachets of yours must have compelling virtues in ’em.”
11 Sept Kipling had abdominal pain and saw Bland Sutton. He was unable to work for 11 days. (clinical history) In a letter to Andrew MacPhail, 11-13 Sept, p.397, he wrote “my insides have been afflicting me at intervals so that I couldn’t keep up working….”


16 Jan: Kipling was ill and miserable. (Clin Hx)
12 April: Kipling was not fit to go to London for the Pilgrims dinner (Diaries)
16 August: Abdominal pains again. He had been pain-free for several months. They were visiting Hexham and Edinburgh at the time.
24 August: (while visiting Edinburgh) Carrie recorded ‘Our visit is poisoned by Rud having his pain at frequent and uncertain intervals and feeling depressed between times’.
30 December :Was said to have an “internal chill”. (Clin Hx)


(All according to Carrie’s diary:)
23 April: Wretchedly ill all night and during the day.
29 April, 1 May: Not at all well.
4 May:“A very beautiful day and a happy one as Rud has very little pain.”
7 May: Has a severe go of pain in the evening.
8 May: Goes to see Bland-Sutton and it is decided to photo his inside.
10 May:Miserable all day.
11 May: Has his breakfast in bed, the first time I can remember.
14 May: Goes to be x-rayed.
18 May: The result of Dr Ironside Bruce’s X-Ray comes. “No tangible evidence of disease but great irritability of the stomach.” Anxiety to discover cause of irritability. Is in bed every morning.
19 May:Rud weighs 8 st 12 lbs (56.4 kg)
30 May: Goes out, having less pain.
30 August: Rud sick and miserable.
Sept (no date) Rud hurts his leg.


According to Carrie’s diary:
4 February: Has his old pain back.
5 Feb: Bad night – great pain and till the 7th wretched with a lot of pain.
11 Feb: Starts a new medicine given him by Dr Melsome. Continues to have pain.
22 Feb: Dr Melsome changes his medicine.
1 March: Dr Melsome comes to examine Rud and to “confirm his theory that there is an adhesion of the liver and colon and this gives him his pain. He says it can be kept in order by medicine and the pills he now takes daily give him great relief.
21 April: Slight pain again.
6 June: Rud has a bad fall, a rug slips from under him.
(Eye trouble. Rud advised to rest.)

8 June: Rud busy at his proofs which bother his eyes.
10 June: Rud’s eyes rather worse. No work.
11 June: Rud’s eyes so troublesome he cannot use them.
5 July: Rud as usual in pain from indigestion.


According to Carrie’s diary:

3 March: His old pain back again.

4 March:Overwhelmed with depression and return of his pain.

8 March: Still having pain.

6 May, 17 July, 1 Aug: A return of his pain.

16 August:Is very wretched with a more than usually severe go of pain.


According to Carrie’s diary:
2 Jan: Rud not at all well
19 Jan: Rud has slight go of pain
22 – 29 Jan: He had a lot of pain, almost daily entries in Clin Hx
30-31 Jan: Still in pain but keeps on with his history.
5 Feb:Wretched with pain. Does very little work.
7 Feb: Goes to see Sir John Bland-Sutton, and he decides much of his trouble comes from his teeth, and it’s arranges to have them all out on Wednesday.
9 Feb: Hear from Sir John B-S at 11.45 Rud has finished with his teeth and all is well. To see Rud at 6. He reports himself pretty fit, and Sir John gave him a most thorough exam while he was under the anaesthetic, and is quite satisfied all is right – great relief.
End of March: K wrote to Col Feilden “(I) am surprised that a man with such deficient armature (or shall we say “denture” ) as mine can eat so much.”
April: in Letter to Col Feilden K said he was “coming on very well as to my interior”.
See Vol 5 Letters, p.64-66.
4 May: At Bateman’s. “Rud restored to health”.
8 July: Rud gets his new teeth fitted after 5 months of great difficulty.
October: Rud has a stiff neck.
7 December: Rud more depressed over the terms to South Ireland than he ever was during the War.

In 1915 it was suggested that bacteria in the mouth or throat or in the sinuses of the skull were associated with peptic ulcer disease. This is probably why K had to have all his teeth extracted. (from ‘The Bacteriology of Ulcer of the Stomach and Duodenum in Man’ by Edward C Rosenow and A H Sanford in The Journal of Infectious Diseases 01 July 1915)


January: Several days of pain. He was upset by newspaper rumours about his Order of Merit (which he had refused).

According to Carrie’s diary:

17 Feb: Rud has a cold.
22 June: Rud has a return of his pain which he has been without for 2 weeks.
23,24 June: Not fit.
22 July: Rud, after days of very little pain, has a bad night, result of eating after a long fast.
27 July: The Irish Guards finished.
28 July: Rud wakes after a good night’s sleep feeling very faint and stays in bed. Gets up about 11 and does some work, but looks very ill, yellow and shrunken, like an old man. Carrie very worried.
29,30 July: Ill, Wretched, languid.
31 July: Goes to London where Dr Lang, Dr Jamieson’s doctor, examines him thoroughly, leaves prescription and treatment. Rud no better. Dr Christie comes and we arrange for examination tomorrow.
1 August: Dr Christie again to see Rud with more examinations. Examination by Alcock of blood and bacteria.
2 August: Rud wretched, but drags himself about.
3 August: Rud very ill and miserable
4 August: Rud has a very bad night, pain and general misery. Dr Christie finds Rud’s colon better and we arrange for a second examination tomorrow by Dr Alcock.
5 August: Another examination in London
6 August: Rud has pain but not severe from tea-time.
7 August: Rud has a bad night:much pain. Has 2 hours free from pain and then it starts again.
8 August: We come to London. Mr Miles, surgeon, examines him and says there must be an x-ray exam.
11 Aug: Dr Christie takes Rud twice to be x-rayed after a Bismuth meal. Rud harried by all this examination and in constant spasms of pain.

Bismuth carbonate was used as a contrast medium in X-ray diagnosis of gastro-intestinal disorders. It was later replaced by barium sulphate. Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia,p.230

12 August: Great trouble and anxiety over Rud, who is so ill and in great pain. The final x-ray exam discovers that another must be made under anaesthetic and we decide to have this done on Monday. All arrangements are made during the day and I prepare him with medicine.
13 August: A night of pain. Goes to Fitzroy House Nursing Home to be prepared for examination under anaesthetic.
14 August: Result of exam: No trace of any sign of the always to be dreaded cancer. An old ulcer is found:a large area of inflammation in colon and lower bowel from which there has been a haemorrhage, which has caused his anaemia.
15 August: To Brown’s Hotel. Treatment starts.
16 August: Heavy dose of Epsom salts in a.m. Bowels washed out twice a day. No solid food, only milk.

Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate): a saline purgative. When taken by mouth in dilute solution it reduces the normal absorption of water from the intestine with the result that the bulky fluid contents distend the bowel, active reflex peristalsis is excited, and evacuation of the contents of the intestine follows in 1 to 2 hours. Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, p.754.

Several nights of pain.
30 August: Examined by Drs Christie & Miles who are greatly pleased with the result.
31 August:A good night followed by a bad day. Rud quite wretched and dull and empty.
2 Sept: The first unbroken night in many weeks.
4 Sept: Examined by Drs Christie & Miles. They change his medicine. They think he has improved. Allowed to go home with nurse
9 Sept: Examined by Dr Christie
11-12 Sept: Too ill to do anything. Upset by the ‘Sheridan stunt’
19 Sept: R working on proofs
26 Sept: Dr Christie for 2 hours. Thinks he is looking much better.
Oct 17: A blood test which shows improvement (? in anaemia)
31 Oct: A slight attack of his old pain.
Nov 1: Another night of pain and sickness.
3 Nov: Dr Christie comes from London and puts him back on his old diet and medicine.
The pain continues for several days. Dr Christie comes again on 5 Nov bringing fresh medicine and orders for Rud.
9 Nov: Dr Christie comes again.
10 and 11 Nov: Very severe pain Dr Christie unable to help him. Sir Humphrey Rolleston arrives at noon. They decide he must go to London.
12 Nov: Seen in London by Dr Christie, Sir Humphrey Rolleston, Mr Miles and Mr J B-Sutton. An operation needed.
13 Nov To nursing home. Makes new will and winds up business affairs.
15 Nov: Operation takes an hour and is apparently a success. I don’t know what was done in this operation.
15 – 21 Nov: Pain continues. A few stitches taken out which eases the pain.
22 Nov: Still in pain, utterly depressed and miserable.
23 and 24 Nov: Stitches taken out both days.
30 Nov: He is moved to Brown’s Hotel with his nurse.
1-5 Dec: Some pain every day. Nurse leaves on 4 Dec. Carrie comments: A good nurse perhaps but quite heartless and unyielding, obstinate and a bully.
15 Dec: Back to Bateman’s. R still low and depressed over Christmas.
19 Dec: R drives nearly to Lewes, quite fit and well, but so depressed, uninterested and dull.
20-31 Dec: Several episodes of pain, sometimes very severe. Also gloom and depression.

(From Carrie’s Diary)
1- 7 Jan: Pains continue almost daily.
7 Jan: Sir John B-Sutton not depressed over Rud’s constant pains:says it is an adjustment after such a long disarrangement. He changes the treatment.
13 Jan:Rud weighs 9st 2lbs (58.2 kg) The pains continue every day. On 16 Jan in bed with pain and unable to see guests.
25 Jan: To Bath.
6 Feb: While in Bath Mr Melsome does a small operation on Rud’s eye – (said it was to remove a cast but I don’t know of any minor operation to remove a cast. It was probably a cyst.)
19 Feb: Back at Bateman’s. Feeling below par in the afternoon. Sick after dinner, followed by fainting, giddiness and a haemorrhage of the bowels.
20 Feb: Elsie took a letter to London to Sir John Bland-Sutton. Kipling stays in bed, living on slops and taking the medicine Sir John Bland-Sutton sent down for him.
21 Feb;Sir John Bland-Sutton comes in the evening , stays overnight and departs in a.m. He thinks Kipling may pull through with less difficulty than before because ‘they have taken this trouble so early’.
The pains continue through March.
25 Mar: Sir John Bland-Sutton sees him and says the pain will continue until he is stronger and that it comes from his colon.
23 April: In S of France: Rud’s weight now 9st 7lbs (60.5kg)
30 April: Examined by Sir John Bland-Sutton who ‘finds him quite sound but not of course cured’.


29 Jan: (from diaries) Rud quite hopeless with depression, nerves and nerves. Working at ‘The Wish House’ Not as well as usual. A hint of the old pain.

See Andrew Lycett: A combination of the news about Oliver Baldwin (homosexual) and Elsie’s likely marriage probably responsible for his depression.
17 Feb: Rud wretched.
5 Mar: Rud to London to have B-Sutton vet him before he goes abroad. Given a clean bill of health but strict orders re diet.
23 May: Elsie tells her parents that she wants to marry George Bambridge.
6 June: To Oxford to dine with Rhodes scholars. Rud not feeling up to much.
9 July: Examined by Bland-Sutton. Finds him so thin as to cause anxiety
Weight 8st11.75 lbs in thin clothing. Carrie given detailed instructions re his diet.
30 July: Examined in London by Sir Humphrey Rolleston & Sir John Bland-Sutton. An excellent report. Can find nothing wrong. Too much smoking which is to be divided by at least half, and more exercise in the open.
14 Aug: A little pain. The first for many days.
1,2,3, and 5 Oct: Pain each day.
22 Oct: Elsie’s wedding day.
5 and 30 Nov: Depressed. A very little pain on 30th.
3 Dec: A bad night.


(from Diaries)
17 Nov: To London. Rud has a bad cold.
30 Nov: at Bateman’s. Rud has pneumonia. (For 11 days The Times printed bulletins about his health.) 3 Dec: Elsie & George B came from Brussels.
5 Dec: Sleeping better but very weak. Dr Peter Stanley staying at Bateman’s.
Christmas: Better but still ill.


(from Diaries) Rud ill in bed until 9 Jan.
28 Feb: ( In S of France) They dispense with a nurse after 13 weeks.
10 Apr: When nearly recovered from pneumonia his old gastric pains return.
11 Apr: Depressed by return of this indigestion trouble which we hoped was finished.
Pains continue through April.
18, 19 June: More pain
20 June; Examined by Sir John Bland-Sutton who is quite sure all is right.
6 July: Rud examined by Lord Dawson who says he must smoke less:detects a “flutter in his heart”. (Possibly atrial fibrillation.)
5 Dec: Rud vetted by Lord Dawson who says Rud’s lungs are sound, but I (Carrie) can get nothing more out of him (Rud).
16 Dec: He starts on Dayspring Mishandled.


23 Jan: Percival Landon died. Kipling was too upset to attend the funeral.
26 Mar: At sea, returning from Brazil, Kipling’s indigestion returns.
2,4 and 5 April; Pain
24,25,29 and 30 April: wretched, miserable, tired, in pain.
1,2,3 May: More pain
7 May: Given Bismuth by Dr Curteis ‘which is to cure it’. (From Diaries)

Bismuth carbonate was used for the symptomatic treatment of dyspepsia and of gastric and duodenal ulcer. Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, p.230

21 May: “I am not quite fit yet, and am being dosed and toniced like anything.” (Letter to Elsie, Vol 5 p.356)
25 May: “I am still being dosed and pilled but I am better…”(Letter to Elsie, p.358)
(from Diaries):
30 May: R gains slowly and with set-backs if he overdoses.
4 June:He has been taking pills from Dr Melsome for 3 days. A good day.
16 Dec: Examined by Lord Dawson who is satisfied.


All through November:not feeling very fit, seedy, very wretched, pain.
June: Carrie’s health breaks down. Investigated and treated by Lord Dawson.


Nil in diary regarding Kipling’s health.
13 Nov: In a letter to Elsie (Letters Vol 5, p.505) Kipling wrote “…you are not to believe aught you see in the papers about the state of your Dad’s health….” Obviously he didn’t want to worry her.
14 Nov: In a letter to H.A. Gwynne Kipling said he had ‘a bit of a cold and was staying in the house for awhile’.
18 Nov: Kipling wrote to Sybil Heeley, (Letters, Vol 5, p.508) “Barring a beast of a long cold I am tackling this winter all right.”


17 and 18 Jan: Pain. Seen by the doctor on 20th and given medicine.
23 Jan: He is better.
31 Jan: “I have been enjoying a fortnight of tumultuous interior, which as usual is certified to be nothing but just pain. It is enough.”

(from Clin. History)

Feb: “I am getting over my last internal revolution, and the warmth will complete the cure.” (from Clin. History)

22 Feb: More pain. Carrie was ill in the West Indies, and was ill again on returning to England.

8 Dec: “Of course I’ve added to the joy of nations by a riotous inside, but that I can manage.”(from Clin. History)

26 Dec: “I’ve abandoned my eternal ‘digestive’ pills which were playing the deuce with my innards, in favour of Agarol, and for 3 weeks now have been free from pain. You don’t know what that means after years of discomfort. I couldn’t have stuck the last strain, I think, if I’d been doubled up as usual.”(from Clinical history)

Agarol: a palatable emulsion containing mineral oil, phenolphthalein and agar used as a mild aperient in chronic constipation. Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, p.896-7 [G.S.]


30 Apr and 1 May: Pain, not eating
8 May: No pain. “For some blessed reason (it may have been change of pill) I have had no pain the whole of today – after 2 really acute days. Consequently I have been able to do some work other than routine. ‘Haven’t had such a bad turn in a long time, but the relief has made me quite gay if you can imagine it. (letter to Elsie, Vol 6 p.37)
9,11,12 May: More pain.
15 May: “I had rather a cheery circus of pain last night. No pain however in town. Sometime or t’other I’m going to see Dawson about things. It is getting a bit of a bore.”(from Letter to Elsie, p.38)
17 May: John & Edith Bland-Sutton visit. Rud is dull and heavy with pain and only slightly enjoys their visit.

(From Diaries)

15 July: Rud not fit and full of dislike to functions. (I don’t know if she means social functions or bodily functions: G.S.)
14, 15, 22 and 24 Aug: Rud not fit. Pain.

7 Sept (1931) Pain. Not doing much work. “And I have a pain in my tum which seems now to be permanent.”(from Clin. History)

2 Oct: John Bland-Sutton examines him and thinks the pain is due to an adhesion at the top of the cut of the operation. Rud to arrange to see Dawson and then a surgeon.

10 Oct: “It’s got something to do with the previous operation on a much smaller scale, and it produces a small dimple in which JB-S takes great pleasure just to one side of my tummy button, and in some way bottles up wind that ought to blow freely. ….It has been giving me a good deal of pain for some years past…..For 3 consecutive days I have to be X-Rayed.”(from Clin. History)

11 Oct: Goes into Nursing Home.
12 Oct: Lord Dawson examines him. “It is diagnosed at present as umbilical hernia… I have grown rather thinner since you and Elsie saw me last….The operation will be performed by Webb-Johnson, who is a great swell in his line.”(from letter to George Bambridge, p.60)
13 Oct: Starts the X-ray with Dr Graham Hodgson

14 Oct: “this morning I heard that there was nothing malignant in my interior.”(from Clin. History)

15,16,19, 20 and 21 Oct:X-rays each day.
22 Oct: Two examinations by surgeon and Sir John Bland-Sutton. Lord Dawson for an hour explaining Rud’s treatment. Sir John Bland-Sutton, Lord Dawson and Webb-Johnson agree that an operation would not cure his pain, but treatment may. “After long consultations between John, the surgeon-in-waiting and Lord Dawson and the X-ray man, it was decided unanimously that there was no need to operate – the trouble being a disorderly stomach etc. Etc…..I am to take more exercise and less tobacco for the future.”(from Letter to Elsie, p.63)
23 Oct: Pain in night. Takes first walk, a mile at a brisk pace.
26 Oct: Dr Curteis sees him and changes Lord Dawson’s prescription slightly.
2 Nov: After a bad night Dr Curteis finds his blood pressure not so low as he feared. Changes made in his medicine.
5,6,7 Oct: No pain but depression.
23 Oct: Dr Curteis comes in the regular course of events these days.
December: Pain frequently. Usually at night. Seen by Dr Curteis who puts him on drops. He has a long night’s sleep after taking these drops. (Possibly Belladonna drops).
30 Dec: “I have been having rather a circus in my inside for about a week: but it has let up for the past 2 nights – 6 hours unbroken sleep and no great trouble in the day. But it’s a shade wearing.”(from letter to Elsie & George Bambridge, p.73)
31 Dec: In pain almost all day.


2, 5 Jan: Two bad nights of pain. (From Diaries)
6 Jan: Starts massage:the hope being it will strengthen his muscles in the abdomen.(From Diaries)
Several more nights of pain during Jan.
19 Jan: (“Pollet has worked miracles with my “tum” which is now globular….I’ve had 3 consecutive nights without pain – only one twinge about midnight.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.79)

(Pollet was Mme B. Pollet, was a masseuse employed by Dr Melsome in Bath. She also treated Carrie Kipling. From
Letters Vol, 5, Note 5, p.61)

Jan ? : (“Thanks to the treatment I have a stomach which is rapidly becoming a model of all stomachs….The relief from actual pain is beyond expression.”):(from Clin History)
31 Jan: Mr Kipling went a walk with a visitor who remembers the pain he had on the walk and also sickness. (From Clin Hx) No reference to this in Diary or Letters. Perhaps too usual to be noted.
6 Feb: Dr Melsome comes and confirms that the small lump has been rubbed away. Rud has put on weight and holds himself upright.

15 Feb: (“Still enjoy my freedom from pain and consequently my unbroken nights of sleep. It’s so good I’m fearful it won’t keep up.”) :(from Clin History)

14,15 Mar: Not so well. Slight pains and sick at night.
11 May: R wretched with pain.

1-14 June: Several more nights of pain.
15 June: (“Your Dad has had a return of internal trouble, but today has been free from pain.”) (from Clin. History)

21 June: (“My tum gives me days off and days on.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.120)
1 July: Mdme Pollet comes to give Rud a week’s massage.
10, 12, 15 July: No pain.
2, 13 Aug: More pain
14 – 27 Sept: A lot more pain. Seen by Dr ??Curteis on 15 and 16 Sept.
28 Sept: Dr Curteis gives him a change of medicine and a wider diet.
30 Sept: Good night:Dr Curteis cheered him. (“I am not exactly fit but not in any such pain or for so long. I suppose the dam’ thing will wear out some day and, anyhow, I can do a couple of hours’ work.”) (from letter to Elsie & George Bambridge, p.133)
Oct: More pains, usually at night.
17 Oct: Dr Curteis finds him better but too thin.

27 Oct: (“It’s some sort of indigestion I suppose. One day will be like a baby’s dream, and the next for no reason a circus of demons.”) :(from Clin History)

4 Nov: Dr Curteis comes and we three decide to call in a London doctor to get a new point of view about Rud and an investigation from that new point.
6 Nov: Dr Evans of Barts. Comes to vet Rud by our Dr Curteis’s wish. He is thorough and Rud agrees to do as he wishes for a trial treatment.
9 Nov: (“I’ve had a new doctor turned on to me – a Welshman of great repute and keen looking. He seems to think that ten or twelve years indulgence in aperients has given my innards a colicky tendency: and is taking steps to verify his suspicion. I am the steps. The damnable thing is that sometimes I get a whole day without pain. Next day it’s back again.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.140)
22 Nov: (“The new treatment seems a success except that it don’t get or hasn’t yet got rid of the pains. They have a knack of turning up at inconvenient seasons which makes one a bit impatient and despondent.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.141)
26 Nov: (“I’m improving as to my inside and begin to think of a time when I shall have no pain. I only get two goes a day now and they’re really nothing compared to what I’ve had.”) :(from Clin History)
29 Nov: Rud not quite so good a night. The doctor makes his weekly visit however and thinks him better than last week.

1 Dec: (“I am coming on. Whiles I have no pain and whiles they arise suddenly and several times in a day. One is deluded by absence of ‘em, and depressed by their presence. One don’t feel master of oneself which I don’t like.”) :(from Clin History)

15 Dec: Dr Evans comes and thinks there is great improvement in Rud who however looks very tired.
19 Dec: A hint of pain, the first in 9 days, yields at once to “Bi”. (Probably Sodium Bicarbonate tablets)
“The new doctor came to see how his new treatment of leaving my bowels unscoured daily and letting them do their own job in their own way had worked. He professed himself pleased, and indeed he had every right to be, and because I told him I sometimes itched like sin he gave me sulphur lozenges (all same dog).”) (from letter to Elsie & George Bambridge, p.143)

Sodium Bicarbonate: neutralises the acid secretion in the stomach. Used to treat dyspepsia. (from Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, p.1354) Sulphur lozenges: contain precipitated sulphur, potassium acid tartrate, sucrose, acacia and orange tincture. Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia, p.1403 [G.S.]


6,7,8 and 12 Feb: Pain at some time each day.
8 Apr: Dr Roux comes to examine him and puts him on a restricted diet.
14 Apr: (“Roux has been having all sorts of analyses made of “products”, and they show traces of blood due to an irritated stomach. (Naturally, after years of irritation.) He put me on a diet for the past week…. there are still traces of blood. (I may tell you that in all these years and with all the eminent doctors I’ve had no doctor has had any laboratory exam. of my outputs.) I wait here on a diet which includes neither meat fish nor fowl and send samples to the laboratory every day…. I do think this rigid diet is a sound idea and the first practical step that has been taken in the last ten years towards trying to clear up the (internal) situation.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.172-3)

15 and 17 Apr: Seen by Dr Jarvis. (“I have a formidable list of medicines to take with meals. I am cut off from bicarbonate of soda….My diet is potato soup, rice or macaroni, stewed fruit and an occasional egg….I am to rest through the days until Tuesday….I think he is on the way to making a discovery which other people have not made. Tuesday’s test may be a very important one as they have loaded me up with Bismuth.”) :(from Clin History)

18 Apr: (“They are loading me to the back teeth with bismuth and it has stopped most of the pain. My diet is still purely vegetarian.”) :(from Clin History)
19 Apr: Reports of tests still unsatisfactory. (from Diaries)
24 Apr: Consultation Dr Roux and Dr Jarvis. Decide to have a radiograph directly lab returns of blood are nil. Dr Roux thinks Rud’s trouble can be “held” and he relieved of pain. (“Doctors are not satisfied with an X-Ray taken 18 months ago and want to make their own investigations. That will be after the lab examination shows no more traces of blood. There is just a faint trace left which they must clear away before they X-ray….the trouble is by the duodenum as far as they can make out. They are very careful not to say ‘duodenal ulcer’ but I suspect that is about the size of it. Personally in spite of potato, spaghetti, one boiled egg per diem, boiled rice and ground rice puddings I am much better.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.175)
27 Apr: Good day. No pain. Bismuth stopped to prepare for X-Ray.

1 May: Unable to X-Ray because still has bismuth in his system. (“The amazing thing to me has been the absence of pain for the past 5 days….the only thing that bores me is my diet.”) (from Clinical history)

4 May: X-Ray. A delightful man does the work, Rud reports, and with far less fuss and bother than in London.
5 May: Drs Roux & Jarvis report Rud’s trouble to be an ulcer at the mouth of the duodenum, and the strict diet must continue, and a fortnight in each month a return to the treatment. We are thankful to know the truth as far as they know it.
6 May:(“I have been free of pain now for over a week and can hardly realise that I am me. The whole trouble can be held in check and may reasonably be expected to be cured in a period of months (?) by bismuth treatment and so on. Meantime my dietary has been a bit enlarged. It even includes fowl – boiled and pounded – and when I get home will extend to fish… What I like about French specialists is their total lack of ‘frills’ and bedside talk. They don’t suggest or hint. They order and strictly. The X-Ray man was very interesting and told me scandalous things about my tummy as he looked at it. But he said there was naught organically wrong.”) (from letter to Elsie p.178)

17 May: (“I am quite free from pain, but full of rebellion as to my diet, which would insult a canary.”) :(from Clin History)

10, 11 and 12 June: Some pain again.
16 June: Starts first dose of his Bismuth-Belladonna course.
31 July: (“I’m on the second lap of my Bloody-Bismuth-Belladonna cure – ten days on and twenty off. The Belladonna rather messes up my eyes, but I remain free from pain.”) (from letter to Elsie, p.202)
Belladonna: Was used in the treatment of gastric and peptic ulcers. It has the same actions as atropine and causes dilatation of the pupils with loss of accommodation and photophobia. (from Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia)

Aug: Some pain at times.

From Carrie’s Diaries

14 Aug: Rud has a restless night up to 1.00 a.m. Goes back to “O” diet of Dr Roux’s lists and has very little pain in a.m.
21 Aug: Very little pain. Carrie starts giving him ‘the smaller measure of bismuth and 10 drops of belladonna’.
1,4 and 5 Sept: Some pain and indigestion.
6 Sept: Some pain stopped by a new digestive.
7 Sept: (“I’ve been keeping better for a bit with occasional screw-jams due to this bloody “farinaceous diet” which produces its own forms of indigestion.”) (from letter to Elsie & George Bambridge, p.211)
9 Sept: Rud starts with pain in the morning which after lunch is severe. I send for Webb-Johnson who changes Rud’s digestive and meals, the same diet but less food at a time and food oftener.
13 Sept: Webb-Johnson changes his digestive.
19 Sept: Rud a night of pain until 4 a.m.
20 Sept: Mr Webb-Johnson changes his alkalines.
Oct: A lot of pain in the first 10 days of the month.
11 Oct: Dr Webb-Johnson corrects diet and says what is to be done.
12 Oct: A wash-out of the intestines which rather reduces Rud’s spirits.
13 Oct: 2nd wash-out. Dr Webb-Johnson pleased with result of wash-out, makes several practical suggestions.
Pains continue for the rest of the month.
31 Oct: (“I am trying to write a set of verses about Jews with one hand and to fight a rebellious stomach with the other. Had one hell of a morning in the colic and squitters line.”) (from letter to George Bambridge, p.220)
1-19 Nov: Pain several nights. Also on 19th trouble with his head, says his brain is feathery.
22 Nov: V little pain but depressed.
30 Nov: W-J to see him at 11.30. Has few alterations to propose and we are to drift on.
Dec:Pains continue. 8 Dec: R under W-J’s information puts a stop to his pipe and reduces cigarettes.
17 Dec:R has a wretched night of pain. Lord Dawson who is consulting in the village comes to call and stays for tea, a pleasant visit.
23 Dec: R not so fit as he has been of late. Dr Melsome and Mdme Pollet to see us.
26 Dec: R very fit.


7,8 and 10 Jan: Pain in evening and night.
30 Jan: Examined by Drs Roux & Jarvis. Both ‘very satisfied’. “….after taking blood pressures etc., pronounced that “my heart was young”.”
Feb: Pain nearly every day up to 16th when he had to take belladonna twice. Pain continues almost daily for the rest of the month.
Mar: Slight pain on some days until 30th when ‘some pain and signs of an attack’.
From Carrie’s Diaries
1 Apr: A good deal of pain and put back on a milk diet
2 Apr: Dr Bres comes and is helpful.

3 Apr: (“I don’t understand why my interior took advantage of the weather to have a kick-up for the past 3 days. However it seems better now. The Cannes doctor recommended to us seems a very good man, and goes to a lot of trouble to dig into the causes of things.”) :(from Clin History)

The Cannes doctor puts him on a milk diet and gives additional medicine to relieve pain, and food every 2 hours.
11 Apr: in late afternoon there starts the worst pain he has had for many months.
12 Apr: Rud has very severe pain in the early part of the night, and I give him a suppository which the doctor left to be used if the pain was unbearable. He sleeps and gets relief but groans almost all night.
16 Apr: Rud a restless and troubled night. I up 10 times. The doctor comes early and says the pain in Rud’s back is rheumatism and not anything to do with his other trouble. My woman to massage him.
20 Apr: The doctor comes and has a start with new medicine.
23 Apr: Rud depressed after a very bad night. Long consultation with doctor. Starts new treatment.

24 Apr: (“I am sorry to say I have not been behaving very well. But this new doctor seems to have struck something which is taking away the pain….It was refreshing to hear him say that the patient should not be allowed to suffer pain. So different from the contemptuous attitude of his British confrere…..”) :(from Clin History)

25 Apr: (“The new treatment which Dr Bres is giving me seems to be working and I have much less pain…”) :(from Clin History)
26 Apr: The doctor says Rud is to enlarge his diet quietly and by degrees. The third almost unbroken night.

27 Apr: (“The treatment has done me a good deal of good and abolished most of the pain…..It’s too much to hope for of course, but it looks as if this man had found the way to deal with my bother. The most searching examinations (or rather 3 examinations one of them spectroscopic!) do not show any trace of blood.”) :(from Clin History)

29 Apr: (“I’ve been without pain for an astonishingly long time – close on ten days – and I scarcely know myself. Also my dietary being extended to ham and chicken, after months of mousses and spaghetti, I begin to feel warm at my extremities.”) :(from Clin History)
30 Apr: (“This new doctor has wrought marvels with my pain.”) (from letter to Elsie p.272)
June: Second half of the month he had a lot of pain usually at night but also some during the day.
26 Apr: Rud of his own idea stops smoking. (From Carrie’s Diaries)
30 June: A very bad night. Carrie starts giving him yeast tablets.

Yeast tablets: Used for the treatment of Vitamin B deficiency. Also used as a general ‘tonic’. But continued use may cause considerable digestive disturbance. (from Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia)

From Carrie’s Diaries
5 July: Pains continue. Dr Curteis comes, sends medicines and arranges for a change of food. Very depressed. The pains continue. 10 July: A very bad night. Put on a milk diet. Pains continue.
3 Aug:Sir Maurice Cassidy to see if he can throw any light on Rud’s case. He cannot or does not, but gives Rud a help in saying he sees no harm in his going away and that he may add sardines to his diet. A great disappointment to Dr Curteis, Rud and me.
18 Aug: A restless night. Carrie gives him some food and a dose of McLean.

Mc Lean: This was probably Maclean Brand Indigestion Powder which consisted of calcium carbonate, heavy magnesium carbonate and aluminium hydroxide. From Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia. [G.S.]

27 Aug: Examined by Sir Herbert Barker who proposes some exercises.
28 Aug: Rud depressed and feeling sore from Sir Herbert’s examination.
29 Aug: Second treatment from Sir Herbert.
15 Oct: Rud on his couch and growing more miserable all the time and only comfy when sleeping.
16 Oct: Very bad night. Severe pain and little sleep.
17 Oct: Dr Bres and his wife come to lunch. He talks to me for an hour about Rud’s health and makes helpful proposals. He examines Rud and finds him better.
11 Dec: Rud wretched and not fit:milk diet starts.
23 Dec: Dr C sees him and sends him a tonic.
28 Dec: A bad night. The doctor comes and puts Rud back on milk diet.


From Carrie’s Diaries
14, 15 and 18 Jan: Violent pains, wretched evening, bad nights and a ‘day of some depression’.
31 Jan: To France. Rud has some pain on the journey.
14 Feb: (“My health is all right and makes no trouble.”) (from letter to George Bambridge, p.333)
18 Feb: (“I wasn’t extra fit yesterday.”) (from letter to George Bambridge, p.336)

25 Apr: (“I’ve had an internal tum circus for a couple of days. It is dam’ monotonous.”) :(from Clin History)

28 Apr: Rud has sudden and severe pain and is put on bismuth and milk diet.

Bismuth: Bismuth carbonate was used for the symptomatic treatment of dyspepsia and of gastric and duodenal ulcer. But it has little or no neutralising action on the gastric juice. As an adsorbent and a protective of the gastro-intestinal mucosa, kaolin and magnesium trisilicate are to be preferred. From Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia.[G.S.]

21 May: some pain
11 and 12 June: More pain.
4 and 5 Aug: Not so well and a bad night.
1 Sept: Rud a poor night and pains:he goes on low diet.
5 Sept: Rud has a bad night and Dr Porges (Marienbad) keeps him in bed and starves him.
6 Sept: Still in bed living on slops.
12 Sept: Rud not quite so well again.
17 Sept: Rud has a bad night.
18 Sept: Rud dull and uninterested and not very fit.


12 Jan: Rud taken ill and to hospital in the early morning for an operation. Webb-Johnson comes to see him at 3 a.m. and later operates.
18 Jan: Rud died at 12.10


Kipling smoked a lot and found it impossible to work without using tobacco. He loved travelling and rarely spent more than a few weeks in any one place. He suffered from bouts of depression but there was usually a reason for the depression.

In February 1899 while in New York, he nearly died from pneumonia, and Josephine, his much-loved eldest daughter, died from complications of whooping cough.

His first episode of abdominal pain appears to have been in May 1909 but from September 1915 until his death in January 1936 he suffered frequent episodes of abdominal pain. In August 1922 he had a haemorrhage from the bowels and was found to have an old ulcer in his colon. In November and December 1925 he had pneumonia for the second time. In May 1933 he was found to have a duodenal ulcer.

He consulted many eminent doctors over many years. But his abdominal pain was put down to various different causes such as gastritis (1915), internal chill (1917), irritability of the stomach ( 1918), adhesion of the liver and colon (1919), ulceration and inflammation of the colon and lower bowel (1922), indigestion (1927), disorderly stomach (1931), colicky tendency (1932), duodenal ulcer (1933).

Gillian Sheehan, August 2017
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