Rudyard Kipling
an International Writer

The London Confenence

October 21/22 2011

Abstracts of the Papers

Institute of English, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Kipling – a Post-decadent Imperialist?

Kipling is seen as an arch-imperialist, committed to the integrity of the British Empire and the maintenance of its values. But this designation needs to be nuanced; it was far from obvious to his contemporaries. Kipling was the schoolboy aesthete and admirer of Oscar Wilde, for whom Uncle Ned Burne-Jones’ Pre-Raphaelite house was paradise. As a young man in imperialist circles he had been ‘brilliantly cynical’ and so ‘cordially hated.’ His first prose works were bracketed with those of Max Beerbohm, he was spoken of in the same breath as Aubrey Beardsley; but his relationship to the late C19 decadents was complex. He had no interest in the definition of art or the function of criticism as they did; he was contemptuous of these ‘long haired things’ who talked about their souls, but that does not mean he had nothing in common with them. The decadent warriors were far from being opponents of empire. Artistic decadence, of course, required an empire in luxurious decline for its raison d’être. Lionel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Dowson had connections with serving soldiers or wrote positively about empire. The decadents were earnestly engaged in understanding Kipling. Plain Tales from the Hills received backhanded compliments from Wilde; Johnson praised Barrack Room Ballads; Richard Le Gallienne impishly wrote of Kipling as a ‘true decadent’ and Beerbohm was a fascinated critic of Kipling.

Whatever Kipling said about the empire, his literary work is ambivalent. Plain Tales from the Hills and the Indian Railway Library series are not about confident empire builders any more than ‘The Widow at Windsor’ is a royalist poem. Departmental Ditties is about the adulteries of empire; satires on the corruptions and deceits of people promoted above their abilities. At their best they are dressing for dinner in remote stations and fighting to retain self-respect in the face of illness. Britons abroad are often without moral authority and shamed by the humanity of their subjects. Kipling sees the endangerment of empire in its own pretensions in ‘Recessional’ and ‘The Man Who Would Be King’. In Kim neither the British nor the Indians have real control of India. Charles Carrington questioned whether Kipling was even an imperialist at all. I would see Kipling as a post-decadent writer, who relied on the empire as his background, but committed himself to exploring and critiquing it rather than luxuriating in it.

Jad Adams is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of English, School of Advanced Study, University of London and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of Kipling (2005); Madder Music, Stronger Wine: The Life of Ernest Dowson (2000) and Hideous Absinthe: A History of the Devil in a Bottle (2004) as well as numerous papers on 1890s subjects. He is currently working on the biographies of women writers of the nineties.

Charles ALLEN

Kipling, the Orient and the Orientalists

Charles Allen was born in Kanpur (formerly Cawnpore) in India. He made his name working for the BBC as an oral historian and author of Plain Tales from the Raj (1975), followed by half a dozen further radio series and books with colonial themes. Today he is an acknowledged authority on British Indian and South Asian history with twenty-three books to his name, and in 2004 was awarded the Sir Percy Sykes Medal by the Royal Society for Asian Affairs for his contribution to Asian studies.

Charles Allen’s recent published work includes: The Taj at Apollo Bunder (2011, with Sharada Dwivedi); The Buddha and Dr. Führer: An Archaeological Scandal (2009); Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling (2007); God’s Terrorists: the Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad (2006); Duel in the Snows: the True Story of the Younghusband Mission to Tibet (2004); The Buddha and the Sahibs: The Men Who Discovered India’s Lost Religion (2002); and Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North West Frontier (2000). A major study of Emperor Ashoka is to be published in February 2012 as Ashoka: India’s Lost Emperor.


Anglo-Indian Encounters in Simla: Plain Tales from the Hills

Ambivalence is at the heart of the portrayal of Anglo-Indian encounters Kipling narrates. His position ( as an Anglo-Indian transpires in the intimacy of the British and Anglo-Indian life depicted. Despite Kipling’s reputation as one of the first acknowledged spokesmen of the rightfulness of the imperial existence, and his rootedness in the conviction of unbreachable gaps (‘East is East and the West is West and never the twain shall meet’), his tales are certainly not one-sided. Kipling is an insider – outsider whose staging of the Simla microcosm and the Indian characters harbours a dichotomy. This paper focuses on ‘Lispeth’, ‘Beyond the Pale’, ‘Miss Youghal’s Sais’, and ‘To be Filed for Reference’, all published in Plain Tales from the Hills – stories which reveal the complexity of Anglo-Indian relations within and outside their own microcosm.

In the junction provided by Kipling’s multilingual writing (which intertwines English and Indian languages and thus gives the tales realistic undertones) the disjointedness resides in the political and concomitantly cultural nature of colonised times; the empire and the colony exclude each other from their specific worlds. However ill-fated the attempts at growing together or reaching out to each other beyond boundaries may be, there is nonetheless this indelible strain that the narrator embodies in his insider-outsider status. Despite the implicit fear of miscegenation for the empire, embedded in the layers of anxiety that materialise in Anglo-Indian and British-Indian encounters, there is the twilight feeling that there is a multicultural crossover and common ground embodied in Kipling’s own nuanced duality which forms the base of his writing. My account of this duality also draws on my own memories of Anglo Indian presence during my childhood and university education in India and my growth into European culture.


‘full of ’satiable curtiosity’: foreignness and childhood in the Just So Stories

The critic J.M.S. Tompkins discovered in the Just So Stories ‘a fascinating blend of the cosy and the infinitely distant.’ This paper will explore how the figure of the child as both character and reader enables this blending to come about. In ‘The Beginning of the Armadilloes’ ‘mixiness’ is both a mixing of species and confusion when received wisdom is challenged. This explicitly points to the tales’ use of traditional narratives and delightful awareness of the means of their own telling. In the ‘Taffimai’ stories ancient tribes invent the first letters in an English landscape, an account of origins that shrinks time and the world so that the foreign is brought home and the grieving father of the present follows the child of long ago.

The reader, who need not necessarily be a child, is allowed to be complicit in the melancholic, humorous and ironic strands of the stories, particularly in the framing commentaries and complimentary poems. The child, addressed by the narrator as having knowledge of imaginary lands whilst cosily listening to stories at home, is not a figure of simplicity or innocence as much as an inventor who engages with foreignness as something possibly frightening but primarily enlivening.

In accounts of colonialism seeing the world is often equated to controlling it. The adventurous colonial child is a vital part of further extending foreign exploration. In contrast to adventure stories of heroics in far-off places, the Just So Stories offer us a ‘seeing’ which complicates its own operations by presenting the child not just as reproducing colonial power but as a figure around which relations are (re)arranged. The ‘more-than-oriental splendour’ of the exotic in these tales can be read as a refusal of cultural difference but this reading is simultaneously challenged by the child figure. As inventor and translator the child draws attention to how culture and community themselves are unreliable narratives told from many angles. The cosy child listening to a bedtime story is therefore the starting point for approaching what is foreign.


Veronica Barnsley is a PhD student at the University of Manchester working on representations of childhood and nation in South Asian fiction in English from the British Raj to the beginning of Indian independence. Her thesis analyses how images of race, gender and nation become invested in the figure of the child and questions how the innocence and simplicity often attached to childhood can operate when it is attached to the conflicted dynamics of nation-building.

Oxford University

Kim writ large: The Worlding of Kipling’s ideas in Baden-Powell’s Boy Scout Movement

When in the years following its publication Robert Baden-Powell’s primer Scouting for Boys (1908) generated the soon-to-be global Boy Scout movement, it also disseminated ideas of imperial security, brotherhood, fellowship, and strategic planning around the world – ideas that the Father of Scouting had derived more or less wholesale from Kipling’s Kim. The core ideas that animated the book therefore were not merely borrowed from elsewhere and hence ‘networked’, something which B-P never denied, but also, more interestingly, were, like the book, planetary both in the outreach that they implied, and in the influence that they had. This impact was no doubt reinforced by the planetary reputation of Kipling at this time. B-P knew well that citing Kipling on how to be an effective imperial operator would win audiences for his movement.

Building on Hugh Brogan’s important work on Kipling and B-P, the paper will explore the textual and political influences specifically of Kipling’s Kim on Scouting for Boys; how these influences were transmuted both within the book and through its structures of reception; and what it was about the presence of Kim in the primer that appealed to its target audiences and inspired their loyalty to its ideals.


Elleke Boehmer has published four novels, Screens again the Sky (1990), An Immaculate Figure (1993), Bloodlines, and Nile Baby (2008), and the short story collection Sharmilla. Her other publications include Empire Writing (1998), Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995/2005), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial (2002), Stories of Women (2005), Nelson Mandela (2008), Scouting for Boys (2004), Terror and the Postcolonial (2010; co-edited with Stephen Morton) and The Indian Postcolonial (2010; co-edited with Rosinka Chaudhuri). Elleke Boehmer is the Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford.

Howard J. BOOTH
University of Manchester

Mrs Bathurst, empire and spatial disjunction

‘Mrs Bathurst’ has been much discussed. A number of critics – among them Eliott L. Gilbert, T. C. W. Swinton, John Bayley and Craig Raine – have speculated on ‘what really happens’ in ‘Mrs Bathurst’. Others – including Angus Wilson – have wondered whether the short story isn’t simply unintelligible. Yet another line of criticism – where Phillip Mallett is representative – sees it as addressing the absence of meaning in the modern world. The dominant recent trend, though, has been to see the story as part of a canon of texts about literature and film. In her major study of this area, The Tenth Muse, Laura Marcus sees ‘Mrs Bathurst’ as exploring changed ways of looking, repetition, an excess of the visual and the frame.

My intention in this short paper is to relate ‘Mrs Bathurst’ to its late colonial moment, focussing on issues of space. I draw, then, on the body of work initiated by Fredric Jameson in his essay ‘Modernism and Imperialism’. He argued that literature registered late colonial ‘spatial disjunction’ at the level of form, where those living at the time were not consciously aware of this economic and cultural shift. I maintain, though, that authors such as Kipling were becoming aware of what was happening, which they figured in terms of content as well as searching for a concomitant form, style and language. ‘Mrs Bathurst’ is full of accounts of journeys that bring diverse people together in many different parts of the world (including New Zealand, Canada, England in addition to South Africa). However, the story also focuses on what holds people apart and at a distance. Seeing ‘Mrs Bathurst’ as directly addressing ‘spatial disjunction’, I examine the story’s interest in repetition, sameness, doubling, narrative gaps, new media and uncertainty. Mrs Bathurst herself I relate to the maternal, the ‘homely’ and the death of Queen Victoria.

Howard J. Booth lectures in English Literature at the University of Manchester. The author of many articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and culture, he co-edited of Modernism and Empire (2000), and has edited New D.H. Lawrence (2009) and The Cambridge Companion to Rudyard Kipling (2011).

University of Copenhagen

‘Boiling a Brew of Slimy Barks’: Modernism and Kipling’s ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ and ‘The Gardener’

T.S. Eliot declared in 1921 that poets in modern civilisation must be ‘difficult’ (‘The Metaphysical Poets’). This creed of complexity had in many ways found, years before Eliot’s essay, a disciple in Kipling, but T.S. Eliot would not have looked to find it there, nor did anybody else, apparently.

Part of the reason why the later Kipling lost and never regained much ‘serious’ critical interest may be his growing penchant for obscurity. The narrative can be difficult to follow, even on a cursory level, in many of Kipling’s later stories. Another reason why Kipling failed and to some extent still fails to attract the attention of the ‘serious’ literary criticism may be his style, which appears traditional, and yet another may be his use of epigraphs and poetry preceding prose in the short story collections as a device that would have put off many ‘modern’ contemporary readers. Kipling’s ‘compressed novel’ technique, which he used in his late fiction, may also have had an alienating effect on the ‘conversational intelligentsia’. Unlike most of his modernist contemporaries Kipling in his late fiction did not write short stories in order to catch a moment of time or evoke a mood.

Exactly how modernism should be defined can be endlessly debated. Though Kipling is not a modernist in the sense of representing ‘the subjectivity of experience and the relativity of “truth”’, as David Lodge has defined modernism, in terms of stylistic refinements and complex allusiveness Kipling can easily stand next to the most celebrated modernist masters of the short story. Kipling’s late fiction deserves all the attention it did not get when it was first published. His late literary work was arguably among his best, even some of the best in the language.


Inger Krarup Brogger (MA Durham University) has studied and taught at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) where she was also a research student. The title of her thesis, yet to be submitted, is ‘Masks of Vulgarity: Rudyard Kipling and the Short Story’.


Kipling, India and Globalization

Rudyard Kipling was a product of a globalizing world. Aiming consciously to establish himself as an international author, he not only translated himself to the literary metropole from what might be described as the colonial margin, but remained committed throughout his career to embracing the globe through journeys literal and imagined. However, his migration led him to register in his metropolitan writings a sense of cultural dislocation jarring imperial Europe from the central position it presumed to occupy. This paper draws on Marxist literary theory to locate the cause of this fin de siècle malaise as a tension between the universalising power of Western capital, and its concomitant erosion of cultural diversity. Paradoxically then, the paper argues, an economically powerful Britain was finding itself culturally dependent upon its colonies, India in particular.

In this cultural milieu, rootless vagabondage became a well-worn literary trope in the work of poets such as Arthur Symons. But Kipling was determinedly rooted. I see him as a hybrid personality and Romantic intellect, bringing imaginative fire from the colonial margins to satisfy the orientalist curiosity, and to soothe the fin-de-siècle anxieties, of the imperial centre. Although these peregrinations lead to a juggling of identities and poetic masks, in this dynamic lay both his phenomenal appeal as an author and his influence as a political and prophetic actor. The literal journeys which he undertook foreground a constant dialogue in his work between political destiny and mythic origins, and a conscious effort to reconcile the particular with the universal and diversity with unity. They justify him as an articulator of identity and collectivity, who was ideally placed to respond to the crisis of alienation and anomie that many felt to be besetting European culture.


Alex Bubb read English before taking a Masters course in South Asian History. He researched the stereotypical representation of Irish soldiers in India, and analysed how Irishmen negotiated their national/imperial identities within colonial regimental culture. His findings were published in Modern Asian Studies. His doctoral project is a comparative biography of Rudyard Kipling and W.B. Yeats entitled ‘The Last Romantics’. He also organises walking tours on the activities of Indian émigrés in London and Oxford during the colonial period, and has an essay on this topic in a forthcoming collection. He is a Senior Scholar at Hertford College, Oxford.

Catherine BUTLER
University of Plymouth

Englishness and Masculinity in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Sea Constables: A Tale of ’15’

In The Fringes of the Fleet Rudyard Kipling observes that for the First World War Navy ‘racial untruths’ are perpetuated for the comfort of the nation, and that ‘racial snobbery’ confounds the enemy far more than any calculated lie (The Fringes of the Fleet 1916:68-9). This paper seeks to explore and to question this claim through the twin strands of Englishness and Masculinity.

The main argument adopts the premise that Royal Naval discipline was upheld by Foucauldian principles surrounding the ‘docile body’, meaning that through coercion the individual’s body could be moulded and transformed into a compliant subject, capable of obedience and at its most effective, producing a strategy to regulate the way in which a person acts and thinks. Although Foucault did not ascribe gender to this process, several theorists suggest that in specific circumstances it clearly imparted the ethos of a certain code of masculinity and a distinct perspective of national culture. The paper examines how the Royal Naval Volunteer Reservist characters in Kipling’s short story, ‘Sea Constables’, correlate with the idealised Englishness and masculinity promoted by Edwardian values. In this tale of maritime retribution against a profiteering neutral trader, the ideals of the self-made, private yachtsmen who have volunteered for wartime patrol duties appear compromised, and the nature of the consummate Englishman is bought into question. As the bodies of the volunteers have not been subjected to the virtually constant technologies of control and regulation employed to impart discipline on officers in the Royal Navy, sites of resistance become evident. A combination of archive material and critical theory will be employed to examine why, in this instance, Kipling’s characters have compromised ideals of gender and national identity, at a time when volunteers typically sought ‘proof of manhood’ through war, which they hoped would ‘energise their lives and countries’ (Joshua J Goldstein, Manhood in War 2001:276).


Catherine Butler has recently undertaken her M.A. in English Literature, Culture and Modernity at the University of Plymouth, using Rudyard Kipling’s writing relating to the Royal Navy to form part of her dissertation. Her B.A. honours degree was in Women’s Studies from University of Wolverhampton in 2002.

University of East Anglia

The Emergence of the Everyday: Kipling and Indian Regional Writing


Amit Chaudhuri is the author of five novels, the latest of which is The Immortals, which was a New Yorker and San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year, and Critics’ Choice, Best Books of 2009, in the Boston Globe and the Irish Times. It was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book. Among the many prizes he has won for his fiction are the Commonwealth Literature Prize, the Betty Trask award, the Encore Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Indian government’s Sahitya Akademi Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was a judge of the Man Booker International Prize. In 2008, a Guardian editorial about him appeared in the newspaper’s famous ‘In Praise of…’ series.

His first novel, A Strange and Sublime Address, is included in Colm Toibin and Carmen Callil’s Two Hundred Best Novels of the Last Fifty Years. His second novel, Afternoon Raag, was on Anne Enright’s list of 10 Best Short Novels in the Guardian.

He is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia, and is also an acclaimed critic, with two highly regarded critical works to his name. He is a musician, a singer in the North Indian classical tradition, with two HMV India recordings, as well as being a composer and performer in experimental music. His second CD in this genre, Found Music (EMI; Babel), was an Critic’s Choice of 2010. He has been a featured artiste on flagship culture programmes on television and radio in the UK, including the Review Show (BBC 2) Late Junction (Radio 3), and Loose Ends (Radio 4).

University of Rennes 2

Rudyard Kipling’s short stories on empire as markers of modernity

While Kipling was generally held to be the herald of British imperialism during the first half of the 20th century, the ambivalence of his fiction on empire has been discussed by several critics over the last decades. Postcolonial studies, especially through the works of Edward Said and Homi Bhabha, have initiated the current trend of revising the traditionally called ‘colonial literature’.

In Kipling’s Indian fiction, subaltern voices may be both seen as manifestations of power struggles within the colonial situation and as operators of disruption, as the main narrative voice – which often presents itself as uncertain – is thus decentred. Similarly, ‘subaltern’ characters, both Indian and English, are certainly depicted as being dominated but may occasionally become threatening doubles to the British administrators in the colonies. These features may be interpreted as elements of disruption of the colonial ideology in the author’s fiction. While modern ideology can be said to involve strategies of differentiation and separation (of which colonialism and the 19th-century discourses on race and class partake), Kipling’s short stories on empire stage the colonial space as a site of general indistinction – between races, classes, genders. Most attempts at setting borders end in failure in Kipling’s Indian stories.

My contention is that the moments of ideological disruption in Kipling’s colonial fiction may be linked to the short story form. Not only is colonisation in the writer’s works the site of the modern, to be understood as ‘crisis’ or disruption, but the short story itself, as a fragmented form and the locus of ‘a submerged population group’, to borrow Frank O’Connor’s expression (1963), is a marker of modernity. Kipling’s short stories reveal anxieties as regards the modern world while they are themselves wrought by literary modernity.


Jaine Chemmachery teaches at the University of Rennes 2 and is writing a PhD entitled ‘Modernity and colonisation in colonial short stories by Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham’. Her forthcoming publications include ‘“Helpless” colonisers in Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham’s Short Stories: the Sustainability of Western Modern Institutions under Examination’ in Maurus Reinkowski and Gregor Thum (eds), Helpless Imperialists. Imperial Failure, Fear and Radicalization (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, December 2011) and ‘Self-Censorship and Silence as Modes of Revelation of the “Unspeakable” in a Selection of Rudyard Kipling’s Short Stories’ in Lisa E-Journal, Literature, history of ideas, Images and Societies of the English-speaking World.

University of Reading

Kipling and the Jews

The question of Kipling’s anti-Semitism, second only to that of T. S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism, is extremely contentious. Following Eliot himself (in his introduction to A Choice of Kipling’s Verse, 1941), Craig Raine has offered a staunch (if one-eyed) defence of Kipling in these terms. Many of Kipling’s biographers and hagiographers have also denied any anti-Semitism in Kipling’s poetry and prose. On the other side, those who regard Kipling as an uncomplicated racist and imperialist regard his anti-Semitism as part of his weltanschauung. To be sure, it would be a mistake to separate Kipling’s anti-Semitism from his imperialism and this paper will be making this connection. But it is equally mistaken to assume that Kipling was either straightforwardly anti-Semitic or philo-Semitic. His poetry and prose from his earliest stories in the 1880s to his 1937 autobiography have a wide range of literary responses to ‘the Jews’. Over half a century, Kipling’s poetry and prose could represent Jews in the crudest terms (a poem such as ‘Gehazi’) or as part of an intricate and stylish story (‘The House Surgeon’, 1909, for instance). ‘The Treasure and the Law’ (1906) gives a flavour of Kipling’s ambivalence to ‘the Jew’ but the paper will place this well-known story in a much wider literary context than is usual. Historical events, such as the Boer War, the Marconi Scandal, the First World War, the Russian revolution and the British Mandate in Palestine, will all be shown to have shaped Kipling’s perception of ‘the Jew’ at one time or another.


Bryan Cheyette is Chair in Modern Literature at the University of Reading. He is the editor of seven books and author of Constructions of ‘the Jew’ in English Literature and Society (Cambridge University Press, 1993 & 1995) and Muriel Spark (Northcote House, 2000) and is completing Diasporas of the Mind: Literature and ‘Race’ after the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2012). He has recently guest edited the journal Wasifiri and is co-editor of volume VII of the Oxford History of the Novel in English on the British and Irish novel, 1940-2000.

Dominic DAVIES
Oxford University

Kipling’s Novels of the 1890s: The Consolidation of Imperial Identity and The Postcolonial Space

This paper focuses on the critically neglected novels that Kipling wrote during the 1890s: The Light That Failed (1891), The Naulahka (a collaboration with Walcott Balestier, the brother of Kipling’s then future wife, 1892) and Captains Courageous (1896). Drawing on Jean-Francois Lyotard’s conceptualization of ‘patriarchal grand narratives’ and Edward Said’s theories of ‘centrality’ as ‘identity,’ this paper wants to understand these early novels, both their implicit agendas and narrative functions, on two distinct but interrelated levels. Firstly, the paper reads the texts biographically; Kipling spent most of the 1890s traveling, and he lived for short periods in three different continents: bereft of a national identity, this paper shall argue that the novels can be read as attempts to re-center, to use Said’s terminology, an individual sense of identity in the face of geographical dislocation and displacement. Secondly, the paper seeks to read the texts interdiscursively, tracing their complicit roles in the creation of a cross-national concept of ‘empire’, rooted in global networks of intersecting grids, framing and controlling the earth’s surface via the emerging technologies of railways, shipping lines and telegraphs. That these two readings are interrelated, and yet also refuse to be completely integrated, is a mark of Kipling’s ambivalence towards the identity carved out for him as ‘interpreter of Empire’: his refusal of the Poet Laureateship in 1892 and a knighthood in 1899 are prime examples of this ambiguity. Whilst understanding these novels as grand narratives that both consolidated, for Kipling, a personal identity as advocate of empire, whilst simultaneously sustaining broader conceptions of imperial discourse, this paper also draws attention to Kipling’s articulation of an empty, central space of uncertainty, within the narrative structure and plot of all three of these novels. The paper concludes by considering the significance of this empty space, and suggests that it embodies, at the very ‘heart’ of these imperialist texts, a ‘darkness’ that is loaded with postcolonial potential.


Dominic Davies obtained his BA in English Literature and his MA in Victorian Literature at the University of Liverpool and is just beginning a PhD under the supervision of Professor Elleke Boehmer at the University of Oxford this autumn. His MA dissertation, which undertook a postcolonial re-reading of a broad cross-section of Kipling’s work, was awarded the Miriam Allott dissertation prize.

Alexandre Veloso DE ABREU
University of Minas Gerais

Allegory of Dominance: British Imperialism in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Rikki-tikki-tavi’

In The Jungle Book (1894), Kipling’s first literary work, the author uses Indian spatial reference and cultural influence to construct his narrative. The short story ‘Rikki-tikki-tavi’ is elaborated using the structure of Western fables, having allegory as one of its most exploited strategies. This paper will analyze ‘Rikki-tikki-tavi’ as a paradigm of this literary genre, showing how characters metaphorically represent the British domination in India during the end of the XIX century.


Alexandre Veloso de Abreu is a Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil where he teaches Theory of Literature and English Literature to undergraduate students. In the graduate centre of the same university he researches in the area of colonial/post-colonial Brazilian Literature. He is a published author of fiction and his areas of interest include Greek epics and contemporary Brazilian novels.

George Washington University

Kipling’s School of History: Lessons in British Identity for Children

The interpretation of history is a continuous struggle with an unruly past that often resists attempts to pigeonhole and classify it. The history of the British Isles – marked by invasion, crosspollination of peoples and ideas, and rapid transformations – is emblematic of these difficulties, particularly in the shaping of a coherent historical narrative. Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies are, in this context, Kipling’s attempt to make sense of the disordered, morally ambiguous, and often violent course of British history; and ultimately to make this version of history palatable to children.

And yet what makes these books unique from other works of children’s historical fiction of the Edwardian period is the way that Kipling deals with otherness and hybridity. These two terms have long been associated with postcolonial, and not colonial, literature. I would like to propose that rather than seeking to efface the hybrid nature of British identity, Kipling embraces hybridity as a tool of political intervention.

In the Puck books, Kipling presents his readers with British identity as a form of hybridity, built on transformations and transference of people and objects. This usually involves a coming together of enemies for their mutual good: Pict and Roman, Saxon and Norman, Jew and Christian. This coming together opens up a path to a hybridized future in which two or more different groups merge to eventually form one nation and people. Hybridization thus becomes a tool of empire and nation-building – a means of creating a national identity strengthened, rather than weakened, by the infusion of otherness. In these works, peoples, cultures, and objects cross-pollinate and graft on to each other in remarkable ways, with the end result being the formation of the modern British people.


Mark De Cicco is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in 19th Century British Literature at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He received his MA from the University of Amsterdam, and his BA from Fordham University in New York. Mark’s research interests include late Victorian Gothic, urban literature, the literature of empire, and identity politics.

The Kipling Society

Ruddy and Trix as Displaced Persons

I’m going to speak of them rather as Displaced Persons, at risk from the threat to identity that comes with the loss of home.

Brother and sister shared a struggle to find the way back, to recover something pristine in themselves that was obliterated when as small children removed from India they were deprived of vital intimacy with loving adults.

In Vermont, on becoming a father, Rud found himself restored to that world of close relationship – and he flourished as a writer. But with the death of Josephine, his protective power as a father was challenged and the grip on his identity faltered. He was close to breakdown. Compensating, perhaps, for the first time he chose to identify himself with those in power, out at the Boer War. In public at any rate, he switched off sympathy for women and children, condemning the work of ‘the unspeakable Hobhouse’ and justifying the concentration camps where children were dying.

Trix had a different trajectory: aged three when she found herself in Southsea, she had to attach herself where she could, distasteful as her guardian might be: the emotional confusion this engendered began to be marked when she chose a completely unsuitable husband. Isolated as a wife out in India, floundering in the marriage, she published novels and increasingly weak stories, only to find respite in the practice of automatic writing. A dangerous game for anyone; for Trix it led directly to breakdown, though she did achieve fame among members of the Society for Psychical Research with her messages from India.


Mary Hamer is a cultural historian. She taught at Cambridge before becoming an Associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard. Her most recent book, Incest: a new perspective, (Polity 2002) examined sources of psychological trauma in children. Her notes on The Five Nations, like her essay, ‘The blind face that cries and can’t wipe its eyes: Kipling and Dreams’, is published on the website of the Kipling Society. She is finishing work on a novel closely based on the lives of Trix Kipling and her brother, Rudyard.

Wooster College

Kipling’s Narrator as Guide in British India: Some Distancing Techniques

Kipling’s ‘I’ guides readers through British India in the Plain Tales and the Indian Railway Library stories, and readers have often called him ‘knowing’. This paper will argue that ‘I’ knows always from a distance, marked by cynicism, amusement, and wonder. These arise from the narrator’s epicurean appreciation of unusual behavior and expert skill at getting close to India without getting caught. Stories referenced will include ‘The House of Suddhoo’, ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’, ‘The Other Man’, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’, and ‘On the City Wall’.


Peter Havholm is Professor of English emeritus at The College of Wooster and the author of Politics and Awe in Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction (Ashgate, 2008). He has published articles on Kipling and on the use of computers in undergraduate teaching. He lives in New York City.

Beatrix HESSE
University of Würzburg

The Results of an International Education – on Kipling and Other ‘Anglo-Indian’ Writers

Taking my cue from Graham Greene’s Kipling essay ‘The Burden of Childhood’ (from The Lost Childhood, 1951), I propose to examine the effect Kipling’s ‘international’ upbringing had on his writing. In order to avoid pure conjecture, I propose to examine Kipling’s fiction in the context of the works of other writers from (what were then called) ‘Anglo-Indian families’, since Kipling’s disrupted childhood was clearly not a mere biographical accident but an institutionalized feature of education in the British Empire. The other writers I intend to consider are Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), ‘Saki’ (i.e. Hector Hugh Munro, 1870-1916), P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) and T. H. White (1906-1964). The first conspicuous recurrent feature in these writers’ oeuvre is an idealization of boyhood and the male child or adolescent, sometimes accompanied by a certain hostility towards females and adults. The second feature is a pronounced interest in the topic of human-animal interaction, or – as in Grahame – the choice of animals as central characters. Taken together, these aspects suggest some hesitation towards becoming fully integrated into adult human society. As a result, critics have sometimes tended to take a condescending attitude towards the writers in question, who were dismissed as children’s authors or mere entertainers.


Beatrix Hesse is currently employed as Professor of English Literature at the University of Würzburg, Germany. This is her second Kipling conference, and she will be teaching a class on Edwardian literature (of course including Kipling) in the upcoming winter term. Her other main research interests are Shakespeare, contemporary British drama and crime fiction and film. She is currently planning a conference on the representation of film in writing, including both fictional texts and film reviews, and will welcome suggestions for contributions.

Oxford University

Prophecy for a New America: Rudyard Kipling, American Prophet

My argument would be that Kipling saw no close personal career role models in the U.K. or India but found several in the United States. His enthusiasm for Mark Twain is well-known. This was not simply because Mark Twain was a great story-teller with a fondness for the vernacular but because Twain had succeeded in becoming a visible public figure who felt free to express unorthodox ideas. Less well known is Kipling’s fascination with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Particular attention will be paid to comparing Emerson’s ‘Brahma’ and ‘Woodnotes’ and Kipling’s ‘An American’.

The argument would be that Kipling shied away from trying to become Poet Laureate of either the U.K. or the United States. Rather, he liked the idea of being an eccentric public prophet, a career path he saw being pursued successfully only in the United States. Kipling liked the seemingly still-largely-unformed nature of the American people, and hoped to follow in the footsteps of Emerson and Twain, while molding American opinion and values in a quite new direction: toward world-girdling ambition and imperial cooperation with the United Kingdom.

Francis G. Hutchins discussed Kipling’s political views in a 1967 book The Illusion of Permanence, British Imperialism in India and the influence of Indian culture on Kipling in a November, 2010 article in South Asian Review, entitled ‘Where Kim Came From, How Indic Culture Shaped Rudyard Kipling’s Achievement’. Hutchins is currently researching American influences on Kipling.


Francis Hutchins taught South Asian history at Harvard University and the University of Chicago. He has also translated two Sanskrit texts, written three books on Native Americans and served as an expert witness in U.S. court cases concerning Native American rights. He lives in Massachusetts.

Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University

The Story of Kipling’s Reception in Russia

The reception of Kipling in pre-revolutionary Russia, in the Soviet Union and in the countries of the former Soviet Union (Russia and Ukraine) was not homogeneous and depended not only upon the political and ideological situation in the country but also on the preferences and skills of the translators. Nevertheless it is difficult to mention another foreign poet who influenced the Russian poetry of the XX century so much as Kipling did.

As early as 1892 Leo Tolstoy expressed his attitude to Kipling’s poems, but only in 1897 were his first Russian translations published. In 1908 the famous Russian writer A. Kuprin, in his positive review of the Russian translation of Kipling’s stories, rather ambiguously wrote that ‘Kipling is the most outstanding representative of England that encircled the globe with its iron arms and is squeezing it in the name of its glory, wealth and might’.

In the Soviet Union Kipling’s fate was very dramatic. It was quite clear that in the situation when all works of foreign literature were banned, Soviet imperialism hypocritically stamped Kipling as ‘a bard of British imperialism’. Contrary to the official opinion, the young Soviet writers and poets of the 1920-30s, according to their memoirs, were charmed by Kipling’s ‘firm and straight style’, a mixture of precise and sometimes cruel naturalness of representation with the romantic pathos of struggle and heroic deed. Ironically the British author, who was the convinced opponent of Soviet power, who mourned over the collapse of the Russian Empire, turned out to be necessary and close to those who would have to anathematize him. When western literature, arising out of WWI, turned away from Kipling, regarding him as the ideologist of ‘non-individual collectivity’, the Soviet literature, following the revolution of 1917, had much in common with Kipling’s idea of sacrificing personal interests, desires and moral principles on the altar of the great common cause.

But the reality of WWII destroyed the romantic illusions of the Soviet writers and the image of ‘the iron Rudyard’ collapsed. After the war, during the long forty years, Kipling was acknowledged in the Soviet Union only as a children’s writer. Everything in his creative works that was not a fairy tale or a jungle story was rejected unconditionally by the official ideology because of purely political reasons. That’s why the story of the unofficial reception of Kipling in the Soviet Union is supposed to be significant (e.g. many great personalities deserved the informal title ‘Russian Kipling’).

The situation changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of XX century when Kipling’s creative works got a new understanding and new life in Russia and Ukraine.


Natalia Ishchenko is the Doctor of Philology, professor of the Russian and Foreign Literature department of the Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University (Simferopol, Ukraine). She has 99 publications and books, including: The Crimean War of 1853-1856: Essays on History and Literature (2004); The Crimean War: A Clash of Empires (2004, co-authorship with Ian Fletcher); The Pen is Mightier than the Sword… Mythology of the Crimean War of 1853-1856 (2007); The Battle of the Alma, 1854: First Blood to the Allies in the Crimea (2008, co-authorship with Ian Fletcher); War in the Crimea: An Illustrated History (2008, co-authorship with Ian Fletcher). Since 1994, she has been a head of the international relations department of the Crimean Research Center for Humanities, and a member of the organizing committees of more than 30 international conferences, congresses and seminars on various problems of humanities, organized by the Center. Currently she is the organizer and director of the annual international congress “The World Literature on the Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations” that has been held in the Crimea since 2008. The domain of her academic interests is English war poetry and prose, mainly Victorian and neo-Victorian.

Shamsul ISLAM
Vanier College, Montreal

Kipling and Islam and other world religions

Today Kipling is widely recognized as a complex writer unlike the past when he was idolized or dismissed for his championship of the Raj. Even his imperialism, as I have argued elsewhere in my work on Kipling, can be seen as only an aspect of his wider philosophy of Law, a principle of order, that is central to his vision. It is with this code of life, vaguely defined though it may be, that Kipling proposes to oppose the Dark Powers that he confronts everywhere.

The formation of this philosophy of Law, particularly its moral side, is certainly influenced by world religions with which Kipling was quite familiar. His stay in India exposed him to diverse religious and philosophic traditions where he could experience them in live action rather than just abstract formulations. What I propose to do in this paper is to examine the impact of diverse religious traditions on Kipling and see how Islam in particular, in comparison with Judaism, Christianity or Hinduism, fares in his estimation and plays a role in the forming of his own philosophy of life that he calls ‘the Law’.

Kipling was a real internationalist and his work or ideas are quite relevant to our post 9/11 world. This is particularly shown by his views on Islam and Muslims. Today when Islam and the Islamic world are under fierce Western attack and a new crusade or the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ rages on, it is heartening to see how Kipling views Islam and Muslims in a very positive light. Perhaps it is high time that the West should listen to what Kipling has to say on the subject.


Dr. Shamsul Islam is a Professor of English at Vanier College, Montreal, Canada. Originally from Lahore, Pakistan where he was Chairman, English Department at Panjab University, Dr. Islam is a well-known Kipling scholar who is the author of Kipling’s Law: A Sudy of his Philosophy of Life (1975) and Chronicles of the Raj (1979). He has also published several articles on Kipling and has presented papers on him at a number of international conferences. His areas of interest include colonial/post-colonial and Commonwealth literature.

The University of New England

Struggles we encounter: Kim as a secret agent

My paper is about Kipling’s novel, Kim, and the discourses of the trans-national struggles that Kipling explores through Kim, the secret agent. I argue that Kim has important implications for the world we live in. These implications have important consequences in creating a conversational space relating to the tensions between the forces of modernism (coherence and sameness) and the centrifugal forces of identity shifts and lack of permanence – much like the way Kim inhabited the discourse of his dislocation. And it is that discourse that this paper explores in a way that implicates the world we live.

Kim is about identities and espionage in colonial India. Starring the young Kim – a street kid living on the fringes of India’s society. Kipling follows Kim’s growth as he develops from an Irish orphan brought up as a native Indian into a secret agent entering the world of the Great Game. Kim gets recruited into espionage and grows to represent a classical English schoolboy. Kim travels with his mentor and friend, a Tibetan lama, assuming the role of a native Indian. However, he retains his agency as a British agent.

Kipling ‘invented’ Kim as the hush-hush agent, a product of the dominant discourse that separated the imperial power of the time from the India that he so much loved. Struggles ensued. Kipling projected such struggles into, as well as onto Kim – much like the way we inhabit the world we live in.

Kim’s focus on the Great Game (espionage) and his role as an informant survived different strains of Kipling’s identities – as both an Englishman and an Indian. Most importantly, as Sullivan observes, Kim’s negotiation of his identities is ‘informed and shaped by Kipling’s divided sense of self, his multiple loyalties [Kim’s dedication to his role as a secret agent] … and his love for a lost India’. As a result, Kim is on an ‘inner-quest’, trying to form an identity of his Eastern and Western cultural ‘selves’. Kim’s role as a culturally hybrid individual challenges our inhabitation of the world around us.

Kipling longed for freedom from the imperial constraints characteristic of his role. Finding freedom in British India, he made his own way in a new world. Kim therefore represents Kipling’s need for merging his Indian selfhood and that of its counterpart. Much like Kim, we are never completely at home. As secret agents, we survive the entanglement of our identities whilst probing our agency through Kim.


Nadia Jabri has worked as a high school Drama teacher and is presently teaching English at The University of New England. She is currently undertaking her PhD on ‘The role of the secret agent in the formation and hybridization of national identity’ where she examines the secret agent’s ethnographic role in colonized societies with reference to identity shifts and dislocation.

University of Pune, India

Kipling’s writing on India: The Simla Tales

India occupies a central position in Kipling’s writings since the land had a special place in his heart. He had spent his impressionable years as a child and formative years of his life as a young man in India. Wherever he went, whether it was London, Sussex or Vermont, he carried his India within his mind and so it is no wonder that India serves as a single largest background to his creative writings. Kipling’s Indian stories fall into two main groups. Those concerned with the Anglo-Indian and those concerned with the native. The Anglo-Indian community consisted of two groups: the workers, who were actively involved in work for the Empire, including government officials, soldiers, engineers, and doctors; and the social or ‘smart’ set, which lived, moved and had their being in Simla. The native community was comprised of the educated Indian and the uneducated.

Getting to Simla was the ultimate aim of Anglo-Indian existence. How to get there was the first problem, and after arriving, how to remain there was second. This paper studies Kipling’s depiction of innumerable maneuvers, strategies, conflicts, and disappointments that followed in the wake of this struggle for survival in the short stories in Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) and elsewhere. It also studies how men wanted to occupy key positions in the government and how the women wanted to secure them for their favourite men. This resulted in flirtation, casual and otherwise. In fact, flirtation was part of the code of high society in Simla. There is a feeling of recklessness, a keen desire to snatch moments of pleasure where they can be found in the Simla Tales. This research paper closely studies how dances, social gatherings, the tribulations of obtaining invitations to the Viceroy’s annual ball, the gossip, the scandals, the rise and fall of women presiding over Jakko Hill according to the bloom and fade of their charm and influence, set the values of Simla Society.


Mukul Joshi specializes in Anglo-Indian Literature and more specifically in the short stories of Rudyard Kipling. After getting her M.A in English (1992), she received her M.Phil degree for ‘A Critical Study of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books’ (1995) and her PhD for her thesis ‘A Thematic Study of Rudyard Kipling’s Short Stories’ (2010) from University of Pune, India. She has a graduate and post graduate teaching experience of 16 years. Her interest is mainly in Rudyard Kipling stories written on India and the Animals. Her writing on Rudyard Kipling also includes a research project on the analysis Mowgli’s character as a feral Case. She is also actively involved in preparing material on communicative English for the non-native speakers of English. She has written scripts for documentary films on environment. She has presented papers at several international conferences in Asia and has published more than 10 articles on Rudyard Kipling’s short stories.

University of Bristol

Jewish jokes in ‘The Treasure and the Law’

The last story in Puck of Pook’s Hill is one of the strongest and strangest in the volume. In it Kipling appropriates, for his own design, a number of stereotypes of ‘the Jew’, both ancient and modern, and fashions a place for his composite figure, Kadmiel, in England’s history. This paper examines one facet of that figure, his humour, and suggests among other things how the bitter wit of Shylock descends, with modification, to Kipling’s outsider and hero.


Daniel Karlin is Winterstoke Professor of English Literature at the University of Bristol. He has taught at the University of Sheffield, Boston University, and University College London. He is the author of numerous essays and articles on Kipling, and edited the Oxford Authors selection of Kipling’s short stories and verse (1999) and The Jungle Books (Penguin Classics, 1986). His other major research interest is in Victorian poetry, especially that of Robert Browning; he has also published on Proust and Bob Dylan. His study of the metaphor of song in English poetry, ‘The Figure of the Singer’, will be published in 2012 by Oxford University Press.

Open University

‘…a lonelier Columbus into a stranger world the wet-ringed moon never looked upon’: Rudyard Kipling’s restless travelling in critical perspective

The twin globes in Kipling’s study at Batemans have come to symbolize the ‘go-fever’ that took him to all five continents during his life and the reportage, travel pieces and creative writing that resulted have been anthologized and analysed, most recently by MacDonald and by Lycett. Amidst his travelling Kipling maintained an intense interest in the mechanics of movement, in the modernity of the machines used for transport and he was able to extrapolate future political visions based on air transport and communications. Yet this mobility and quest for modernity is in contradistinction to a desire for social and personal stability. After his marriage Kipling settled first into American and then into English rural life. At Batemans he drew on local folklore and history to create an ‘imagined community’ for backward looking visions of Englishness and the destiny of the English to colonize other lands and create an Empire which needed constant maintenance.

In this paper I aim to examine the apparent contradiction in these personal positions and writings, drawing on postcolonial theory to identify the tropes of nostalgia and home building in Kipling’s writing and how these reflect colonial and psychological anxiety. I will further draw on the anti-Oedipal approaches of Deleuze and Guattari to posit alternative ‘desiring-production’ drives behind Kipling’s restlessness in comparison to MacDonald’s claims that his Celtic heritage through his mother drove him to a love of the sea and of travelling whilst leaving him nostalgic for the lands left behind. Rather I will try to show that the demands of modernity and of his colonial heritage and empire advocacy induced conflicting desires for stability and change, manifested in personal location in a created rural stasis with travel to other perceived unvarying locations complemented by advocacy of change and development, particularly in Africa and a fascination with modern procedures and machines.


James Kelly took an interdisciplinary European Studies BA degree at the University of East Anglia, majoring in literature and history with Romance languages. He then studied Spanish history and literature at the Central University of Barcelona before taking a Masters in Information Science and becoming a policy analyst in local and central government. He has continued to build on his interests in English and Spanish literature and has recently been exploring the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and its applications in literary criticism. He is currently undertaking a second Masters at the Open University, and his dissertation examines Kipling’s changing social class inscription and implications for his writings.

Douglas KERR
Hong Kong University

‘Let us annex China!’: Visuality and Ventriloquism in the Far East

In 1889 Kipling journeyed from India to Europe by way of Japan and the United States and in early April he arrived in the British crown colony of Hong Kong. He reported on his journey in a series of articles for the Allahabad Pioneer, later published as From Sea to Sea. Impressed above all by the evidence of Chinese industry and craftsmanship in Hong Kong, he joked with his Anglo-Indian readers that Britain had conquered the wrong Asian country: ‘Let us annex China!’ When he crossed the border to visit Guangzhou (Canton) in imperial China, he was setting foot for the first time (apart from a schoolboy trip to Paris with his father) outside British possessions. The visit was not a success. Now the Chinese filled him with fear and loathing, and he could not wait to get back across the border.

This paper pays attention to the brilliant visuality with which Kipling evokes these Chinese cities for his readers. His reportorial eye warrants a rapid assumption of expertise which enables him to take possession of a subject on which, for once, he was not knowledgeable. But the auditory scene he experienced simply as noise. From this he ventriloquises a Chinese discourse he cannot hear, to produce a well-behaved industriousness (in the colony) and a bloodthirsty racial hostility (in Canton) which may tell us less about the Chinese than about how he understood and expected the world, and other people, to be.


Douglas Kerr is Professor of English at Hong Kong University. His publications include Wilfred Owen’s Voices (Clarendon Press, 1993) George Orwell (Writers and their Work series, 2003), and A Century of Travels in China: Critical Essays on Travel Writing from the 1840s to the 1940s (co-edited, Hong Kong University Press, 2007), and Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in British Writing (Hong Kong University Press, 2008), which deals with the history of representations of Eastern people and places from the time of Kipling to the postcolonial period. He is at work on a book on Arthur Conan Doyle and modernity.

John LEE
Bristol University

Kipling and Literary Afghanistan

‘Ave Imperatrix’ (1882) was one of Kipling’s first published poems, and one of the very earliest which would gain entry to The Definitive Edition of the Verse of Rudyard Kipling (1940). In identifying Afghanistan as a particular site of imperial conflict, it can be seen as the first in a series of Afghan poems and stories – other examples are ‘The Young British Soldier’, ‘Ford o’ Kabul River’, ‘The Amir’s Homily’, and ‘The Man Who Would Be King’.

‘Ave Imperatrix’ has also always been a rather contentious poem. Beresford’s resistance, in his memoir of Kipling’s schooldays, to reading its imperialism in a non-ironic manner is neither unreasonable nor unusual; ‘Ave Imperatrix’ is a rather peculiar poem to emerge from the pen of the Burne-Jones influenced, Japonisme loving, caustic aesthete that Kipling often appeared to be in his younger days. It may be, though, that the debate about the seriousness of the poem’s commitment to imperialism has obscured a scrutiny of its details. One might ask why Afghanistan finds itself as a key site of imperial conflict for the schoolboy Kipling.

As well as local and historical reasons for this, there are also literary reasons. In 1881, Oscar Wilde – another Japonisme loving, caustic aesthete – had published his own ‘Ave Imperatrix’, a poem which both recognised the imperial cause as a necessary one, and which concentrated on Russia, India, and, most prominently, Afghanistan, as places of imperial conflict and sacrifice. Afghanistan, by the 1880s, had its own geography and history in English literature. This paper explores that literary Afghanistan, and the ways in which Kipling both draws upon and develops it.


John Lee is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Bristol. He is the author of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and the Controversies of Self, has edited the shorter poems of Edmund Spenser, and has published articles on Renaissance Literature and, more recently, Shakespeare and the Great War, and Shakespeare and Kipling. He is at present working on a study of the life and times of Kipling’s ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’.


‘Foreign’ eyes on Britain

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reader perspective in some of Kipling’s stories where England is viewed through foreign eyes. It seems that the viewpoint in many instances is only superficially foreign, and that the real implied audience is British; the stories debate issues of internal politics that might be of little importance to outsiders. However, considering the interest Kipling took in building a community of English-speaking nations, it would be surprising if his stories did not take into account the needs of non-British readers. In particular, American perspectives could be expected to be important, as America was an important market for Kipling, and also because the relationship between the two nations was not always as cordial as the author might have wished. My argument is that stories of Americans ‘discovering’ Britain do seem to orientate themselves towards genuinely foreign readers, while not ignoring British ones. In this way, Kipling is attempting to build a community of readers that might help bring about a community of peoples in the outside world.


Inna Lindgren is writing a doctoral thesis on addressivity in Kipling’s stories. Themes to be studied include Kipling’s self-portrayals and the way the stories may be geared to accommodate or exclude different types of readers. Publications in the field include ‘Plain Tales from the Hills as Emergent Literature’ (Nordic Journal of English Studies 6(2), 2007) and ‘Kipling’s Soldiers and Kipling’s Readers: Members of a Single Community?’ (in Sell, R. D. (ed.) Literary Community-Making: The Dialogicality of English Texts from the Seventeenth Century to the Present, forthcoming).

Sarah LONSDALE University of Kent

Ideas of ‘England’, ‘Ireland’ and popular journalism in the short story ‘The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat’

Kipling wrote his many-layered short story about a group of journalists getting their own back on a corrupt magistrate and ‘Rad’ MP, in 1913/14 as the country stood unknowingly on the brink of international conflagration. He addresses many issues in the story, including Irish Home Rule, and the role of the Press in a new age of mass communications – serious and, for contemporary commentators, deeply troubling problems. Yet Kipling’s characters – the Irish MPs, the journalists and, particularly, the English public are portrayed as child-like innocents easily distracted by songs and dances and living in a carefree world of village squares, Shorthorn cattle, Gubby dances and music halls. The Irish allow the Home Rule debate in the House of Commons to be sidetracked by their penchant for singing and dancing and the journalists lose control of the genie of a story they have unleashed. Written just before, but published after, the outset of the Great War and the Easter uprising in Ireland, the story becomes an unplanned commentary on the challenge to the meaning of England and Englishness the next few years would bring.


Sarah Lonsdale is a lecturer at the University of Kent’s Centre for Journalism and is a year from finishing her PhD: ‘The Representation of Journalists and the Press in British fiction 1900-1939’. She is also a columnist on the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, writing on environmental matters.

University of Kent

Museyroom exhibits: Joyce and Kipling in the pages of the Cambridge

This paper will discuss how Finnegans Wake is permeated with Kipling and by extension dominant ideologies of the nineteenth century. As exponent of the British ideological apparatus and effective denominator in culture and politics both in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Kipling entered Joyce’s cultural field from early on. In his own effort to describe Dublin life Joyce used as model and challenged Kipling’s style in Plain Tales from the Hills. If only he could depict Ireland as Kipling represents India, he wished in a letter to Stanislaus Joyce in 1906. Later on in the 1930s he commented on Kipling’s exceptional representational skills that were contaminated, however, with imperialistic ideologies, as Ellmann reports. This paper will chronicle Joyce’s textual engagement with Kipling’s work and proceed to examine how Kipling and ideologies of war and imperialism are debunked in the ‘museyroom’ section of Finnegans Wake. Scholars have discussed this extract in relation to British colonialist politics in Ireland. For instance, Vincent Cheng has illuminated how Wellington’s military activities both in India and Waterloo epitomise British imperialist vigour. In 1974 David Hayman noted playful interconnections between the ‘museyroom’ and the pub scene and emphasised a textual interaction with Kipling’s battle-focused writings. This paper will expand on such lines of enquiry, but from a different textual and historical angle. It will focus on the text’s caustic and dramatic handling of a multitude of battles and principally those in the Western Front fought in the same geographical spaces as the Waterloo campaign. References to Kipling crop up in sections juxtaposed with fierce humorous and obscene anti-war declarations.

By drawing on Joyce’s own explication of the ‘museyroom’ section, as published in the Cambridge-based magazine Experiment, issue 7 1931 (co-founded by William Empson and Jacob Bronowski in 1928), I will examine how the ‘museyroom’ section problematises the post-WW1 ideology for unquestioned reverence to the London Cenotaph’s glorious dead. The phrase was used in the late 1920s by Cambridge anti-war intellectuals and writers as a motto for a scathing attack on the ideologies of war that Victorianism and Kipling, as the major exponent, propagated. Joyce’s article ‘Footnote to Work in Progress’ in the magazine of the 1930s Cambridge intelligentsia is still neglected. His contribution, attributed to Stuart Gilbert, responded to and informed contemporary reactions to war and imperialism.


Eleni Loukopoulou completed her PhD at the University of Kent, Canterbury on the topic of James Joyce and London. An essay on Joyce’s textual engagement with London will appear in the forthcoming edited collection Irish Writing London (Continuum, 2012). She has published review articles and conference reports in James Joyce Quarterly and James Joyce Literary Supplement, and has contributed to ABES Routledge. Currently, she is working on a monograph that draws on archival research on Joyce’s publishing collaborations with T. S. Eliot, Jacob Bronowski and William Empson.

University of St. Andrews

‘Hear and attend and listen’: Rudyard Kipling’s Audiobook Afterlife

Until recently, audiobooks have been discussed relatively infrequently by literary and cultural critics. According to Matthew Rubery, this is a consequence of the fact that ‘The persistent identification of reading with a speechless act of decipherment remains something of a reflex among today’s literary scholarship’ (60). Critics, Rubery notable among them, have now begun to pay overdue attention to this form. Little has been said, however, about audiobook treatments of Kipling. Intriguingly, two recent bibliographies do not consider audiobooks, despite comprehensively cataloguing other multimedia forms. What makes this particularly surprising is that Kipling is a writer with such well-attested aural and oral qualities. This paper will take as its starting point an assessment of Kipling’s literary works as spoken word albums. It will confine itself to commercially produced audiobooks from publishers dominant in the marketplace such as Naxos, focusing on these widely-available releases as texts worthy of study in their own right.


Erin Louttit is a student at the University of St. Andrews. Her research interests include Victorian literature and culture, children’s literature and the history of the book.

The Kipling Society

Poseidon’s Law – Kipling’s experience of the sea

For all of Kipling’s love of the land and admiration for soldiers, his real passion was the sea and his ultimate hero the sailor. The reason, as suggested in his poem ‘Poseidon’s Law’, was that the sea was the ultimate (because most fickle and most dangerous) natural force, and its subjection a true test of a man’s courage and resolve. Thus his regard for sailors who braved the elements and made their way to distant shores trumped even that he had for those administrators and other doers whose terrestrial exploits he liked to praise. He saw their feats of seamanship as having kick-started the British Empire and kept it in motion. This talk focuses on aspects of Kipling’s depiction of the sea – touching on its romance, its role in history and its significance in the running of empire (the theme of his collection The Seven Seas). He propagandised for the Royal Navy, promoting its rearmament in the run-up to the First World War and writing a series of pieces (Fringes of the Fleet) about naval operations during that conflict.

The talk also looks at how the sea affected Kipling’s own life. He peppered his many letters with nautical observations. He befriended seamen, became an honorary master mariner and wrote the epitaph for the war memorial to members of the merchant navy. He gave weighty speeches on aspects of the sea and sea power, to organisations such as the UK Chamber of Shipping. He also helped in the establishment of the National Maritime Museum, where many of his books and papers are to be found.


Andrew Lycett is an author who has written several biographies including one of Kipling. His most recent publication is Kipling Abroad, an anthology of Kipling’s travel writing. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

University of Kent

Vagabonding for the Backwoodsman: ‘Letters of Marque’ and other stories

The 19 travel sketches in the ‘Native States’ of Rajasthan published in the Pioneer (1887) as ‘Letters of Marque’ (meaning ‘licensed privateer’) and collected in From Sea to Sea (1899), represent the youthful Rudyard Kipling’s writing about India at its liveliest, full of energy, comedy, romance and the exhilaration of encountering otherness. Their interest lies partly in their quality as a record of a brilliant, opinionated Victorian young man encountering difference. Travelling by himself, off the family leash and taking orders from no one, writing not for his own Anglo-Indian community of Lahore but for a wider audience than he would ever meet, Kipling responds to the people, buildings and landscapes of Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Boondi with a combination of openness, relish, imperialist prejudice, anxiety and pleasure. His ambivalence is signalled by his self-description as ‘the Englishman’, emphasising both his own racial identity and his awareness of being a foreigner in other people’s homelands. Correspondingly, his attitude changes as he travels to places which ‘do not encourage Englishmen’, do not accept his currency and cannot be reached by railway, from superiority to anxiety and even (if briefly) admiration.

The experiences recorded in these sketches were to bear fruit in Kipling’s later work, notably The Naulahka, co-written with Wolcott Balestier, The Jungle Books and, more obliquely, Kim. Of particular interest are Kipling’s response to the romance and horror of the ruins of Chitor and the ‘Gau-Mukh’, which he transformed to melodrama in The Naulahka and to something darker in the ‘Cold Lairs’ of The Jungle Books, and his pleasure in the leisurely remoteness and beauty of Boondi, which was to contribute to the loving delineation of Indian culture in Kim.


Jan Montefiore is Professor of 20th Century English literature at the University of Kent and Vice-Chairwoman of the Kipling Society. Her books include Feminism and Poetry (1987, 2004) and Rudyard Kipling (2007). She has edited Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King and other stories for Penguin Classics (2011) and is series editor for the Kipling titles in this imprint. She is also editor of and contributor to the collection In Time’s Eye: Essays on Rudyard Kipling for Manchester University Press (forthcoming 2012).

University of Kent

Between the Rukh and the Jungle

This paper will consider the importance of ‘In the Rukh’ as the ‘original’ Mowgli story, and re-evaluate its relationship with The Jungle Books. The story can be read as an interesting ‘allegory of Empire’, not so much because it unmistakeably places the adult Mowgli in the imperial order as because it celebrates colonialism as the successful management of nature. The story stages the enclosure and re-creation of nature as the originary moment of human/colonial violence, only through which is the myth of Mowgli the wolf-boy allowed to emerge. The story is a powerful representation of man’s relationship with nature, against and alongside which the entire Jungle Books was written.


Kaori Nagai teaches at the University of Kent. She is the author of Empire of Analogies: Kipling, India and Ireland (2006) and co-editor of Kipling and Beyond: Patriotism, Globalisation and Postcolonialism (2010, with Caroline Rooney). She wrote an introduction and notes to Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills for Penguin Books (2010) and is now working on the Jungle Books. She also edited a special issue on ‘Dream Writing’ for the Journal of European Studies (2008).

University of Exeter

Kim writ large University of Exeter Akiko Nambu Rudyard Kipling and Bateman’s In 1902, Rudyard Kipling decided to settle at Bateman’s in Sussex – Kipling’s home from 1902 to 1936. Kipling himself designed the Rose Garden at Bateman’s garden, which emphasises the formality of the garden. However, scholars have sometimes neglected the Wild Garden at Bateman’s. The Wild garden actually borders on the Rose Garden – the formal garden in Bateman’s. It provides an escape from order and elegance. Trees and flowering shrubs are planted in rough grass. According to Adam Nicolson’s Bateman’s (1996), ‘the Brazilian gunnera, a very Kiplingesque plant, with its huge jungle-like leaves’ (Nicolson, 30), grows in the Wild Garden. William Robinson (1838-1935) was a gardener who played a crucial role in popularising ‘wild’ gardens during the second half of the nineteenth century. According to the visitors’ book at Bateman’s, Robinson seems to have given suggestions about garden design to Kipling in 1906. The aim of the wild garden was to make gardens more natural-seeming. Eighteenth-century landscape garden architecture is usually a matter of imposing form and order on the landscape. In contrast wild gardening deliberately obscures the border between the inside and outside of gardens, creating a ‘living’ fence by allowing plants to grow in their own way. Wild gardening aims to open the garden to the surrounding landscape, without sacrificing its original character. How does this idea of wild gardening, as reflected in the garden at Bateman’s, reflect Kipling’s own thought about order and the natural world? This study examines how the formal and wild gardens are interrelated to each other in Bateman’s rather than simply presenting a dichotomy between different elements, order and nature – and suggests parallels with the treatment of similar themes in Kipling’s writing.University of Exeter

Akiko Nambu studied for a Master of Arts degree in English Literature at Tohoku University in Japan. After teaching in Japan, she also received a Master of Education degree in TESOL from the University of Exeter. She is currently a doctoral research student in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter. Her research interests include intercultural studies on gardens between the UK and Japan, the role of gardens in the writings of Henry James and Rudyard Kipling and collaborative teaching by the non-native speaking and native-speaking teachers.

Fuji Women’s University

The Performance of the Bereaved: ‘Ritual’ in Kipling’s Great War Texts

It is said that Rudyard Kipling avoided betraying his private feelings to the public, especially after his son John went missing on the Western Front in 1915. Since he had a great tenderness for children, Kipling’s readers find it frustrating that he seemed to repress his excruciating grief over the loss of his beloved son. They inadvertently blame Kipling for nonchalantly engaging in ‘public’ services, such as working as a member of the Imperial War Graves Commission, and impassively neglecting his ‘true’ feeling. The desire to make Kipling disclose his suppressed feelings is so strong that it has yielded several works of fiction and screenplays. What these readers overlook is that, although in a complex way, Kipling quite clearly and frequently expressed his grief as the bereaved.

One of the significant themes of Kipling’s Great War texts is the ‘Ritual’ conducted in honour of the soldiers who died or were maimed on the battlefield. In a Ritual, like the one conducted in the Lodge in ‘In the Interests of the Brethren’, participants believe that grief and loss are not stored within, but are set free through the performance. Ritual can establish a ‘community of mourning’ to share the pain of loss with others, effectively if not enduringly. Although by nature essentially futile and the bond forged by it is fragile, Ritual should be preserved in order to expose oneself to his loss recurrently and restrain one from indulging in blind vengeful violence, which would inevitably lead to another calamity.


Toko Omomo is a lecturer at Fuji Women’s University, Sapporo, Japan. She is currently working on her dissertation, and her thesis deals with Kipling’s representation of children. One of her papers, ‘Technology and It: The Transition of the Imperial Vision in Traffics and Discoveries’, was published in The Kipling Journal in 2009.

Thomas C. PINNEY
Pomona College

Kipling and the Lesser Lights of American Literature

No adequate account has yet been made of Kipling’s reading. The intact library at Bateman’s gives only a very limited idea of the range and variety of the print that Kipling devoured. Something of that range and variety may be suggested by his reading among what he would have called the Lesser Lights of the American literature of his time: Sarah Pratt Greene, Lucretia Hale, O. Henry, Blanche Willis Howard, Owen Johnson, Joaquin Miller, Bayard Taylor, Adeline Whitney, to name only a few from the list. What he found in these writers and what value they may have had for him are the subjects of this paper.


Thomas Pinney is professor of English, emeritus, at Pomona College, and the editor of Kipling’s India (1986), Something of Myself (1990), The Letters of Rudyard Kipling (1990-2004), Kipling and His First Publisher (with David Alan Richards, 2001), Rudyard Kipling’s Uncollected Speeches (2008), and of the forthcoming Complete Poems of Rudyard Kipling.

Judith PLOTZ
George Washington University

The Great American Novel Was Wasn’t: ‘Captains Courageous’, Moby Dick, and Kipling as American Myth-Maker

Kipling had a deep and complex attachment to the United States, the nation that made him a ‘householder’, that was the source of his ‘chiefest joys and sorrow’, and that promised to continue the Anglo-Saxon work of empire. But Kipling’s engagement with the United States goes beyond his personal associations and his polemical commitments. He is not merely an Englishman with ties to America but a genuinely American writer. This paper will explore the Americanness of Kipling’s writing under two heads: first, as the conscious heir of key 19th-century American writers (notably Joel Chandler Harris, Bret Harte, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman); and second as the fashioner of original myths of American Manifest Destiny. These intensely American myths – some mechanical (‘.007’), some ethnographic (the ‘blue Skalallatoots’) – culminate in ‘Captains Courageous’, which I read as Kipling’s revision of Moby Dick.


Judith Plotz, Professor Emeritus at George Washington University, has written variously on Kipling. She is the editor of the new Penguin Just So Stories and has essays about Kipling and the USA, in The Cambridge Companion to Rudyard Kipling and Kipling and Beyond. She is completing a book on the non-canonicity of Kipling (Kipling and the Little Traditions) and is also at work series of essays on Anglo-Indian literary contemporaries of Kipling. She has also published on romanticism, 19th-century children’s literature, and English-language Indian writing. As a Fulbright Scholar she has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. In spring 2012, she will be a visiting professor at Bogazici University in Istanbul.

The Kipling Society

The New Readers’ Guide to the Works of Kipling

Who was the original of Mrs Hauksbee, or Private Mulvaney? Where was the Kashi Bridge, or ‘Shamlegh midden’, or Mowgli’s Jungle? What were ‘screw-guns’, or ‘pegs’, or ‘tiffin’? Why did Kipling quote so often from the Bible, from the classics, from his fellow poets? What was the larger backdrop to his works? The aim of the New Readers’ Guide is to answer such questions and make Kipling more accessible to a new generation of readers, world-wide.

Some fifty years ago the Society attacked this task in eight massive volumes, edited by Harbord. The structure of the New Guide is similar. Each entry offers brief publication details, background notes on the personal or political context, and detailed notes on references in the text. We have added summaries of the stories and themes, and extracts from the criticism over the years, also some illustrations.

Most of the published verse and prose collections are already available on the Internet, and where works are not readily accessible we have published the full text. There is a booklist, based on the catalogue of the Kipling Library, and exhaustive lists of the verse, by title and first line.

Publication on the Web has allowed us to link the different parts of the Guide for ease of navigation, and make corrections and updates very quickly and simply. There is the text of past Kipling Journals since 1927, an index of titles and authors, and the capacity for searching the entire text for a word or phrase. We have also added a searchable database of themes in the stories. This will be extended to include the journalism and the verse. Finally, we have added some general articles on such themes as ‘Kipling and the Royal Navy’, ‘Kipling and Medicine’, and ‘Kipling and Music’.

John Radcliffe spent some thirty years working in BBC radio and television production, mainly in education. In the 1960s he produced current affairs programmes for the General Overseas Service, and history programmes for secondary schools. In the 1980s he was Executive Producer for the BBC Computer Literacy Project, and became Head of the BBC Open University Production Centre. He is a long standing member of the Kipling Society, has created and maintained the present web-site for the Society, and has served as Chairman of Council. He is the General Editor of the New Readers’ Guide on Kipling’s works.

Université de Grenoble 3

The metonymic empire: the transposition of a literary geography

Rudyard Kipling’s presence in the county of Sussex is highly paradoxical in the sense that it is both a return home and an exile – Andrew Hagiioannu highlights this through the expression ‘estranged homecoming’. Except for his relatively short stays at the Burne-Jones’s, his former experience of England was bleak. His decision to root his family in this particular territory meant that he had to (re-)invent an English landmark for himself, which could have led his writing in a totally new direction.

In the short stories written in that period of familiarization to Sussex, a number of imperial patterns however appear to be applied to this unexpected territory. Even if Kipling denies it in Something of Myself, the Puck stories can certainly be read in the context of an imperial organisation of space, as they contain an imperialist subtext which, though underlying, is comparable to the one present in the South African stories for example. The traditional comparison between the Roman and British empires is reenacted through the form of the pageant, but it is only part of a more ambitious portrait of Sussex as the layered embodiment of Englishness.

Being in England may not have led Kipling to totally reinvent his writing modes, but rather to attribute to his new territory the characteristics of his favoured geography, which are typically imperial. The organisation of the space of Sussex along imperial motifs is particularly expressed through the representation of boundaries and traffic networks as structural lines. Kipling’s imperial and literary geography covers and matches his English territory, giving it an almost magical power of representation. England then becomes the metonymic place where imperial tensions are crystallised by the means of both condensation and transposition.


Elodie Raimbault is Senior Lecturer (maître de conférences) at the Université de Grenoble 3. She completed her thesis entitled ‘Literary Borderlines and the Spatial Imagination in Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction’ in 2009 at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle. It is to be published in book form in 2012 (Editions Honoré Champion).

Bilkent University, Ankara

From Kipling’s Imperial Boy Toward a Postcolonial Kipling

The paper will review the main points in my work on the imperial boy: Kipling’s imperial imagination, the boy as the key figure for empire-affirming narratives, the questions of cultural hybridity and ambivalence arising with the imperial boy and thus disrupting Kipling’s imperialism.

The paper will then review recent Kipling criticism, most notably by Bart Moore-Gilbert, that brings postcolonial theory to bear upon certain of the Indian tales and calls into question the notion of Kipling as an imperial advocate. This section of the paper will briefly engage with one Indian tale to demonstrate more clearly this calling into question.

Finally, the paper will argue that the postcolonial Kipling is not discovered so much as made, by the insistence with which postcolonial writers and critics return to Kipling’s texts. The paper reaffirms the importance of the boy, noting that the narratives of the boy (especially of Mowgli and Kim) are the preferred sites of ‘postcolonializing’ (Quayson) cultural reproduction. A final assertion will be made that the evidence of the Kipling case turns us away from a notion of texts as fixed and established, definitively authored, and toward a notion of texts as sites of on-going social negotiation. Kipling’s texts, the paper concludes, are still at work in our world, and our world is still at work upon them.


Don Randall is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Letters at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He is the author of Kipling’s Imperial Boy: Adolescence and Cultural Hybridity (Palgrave, 2001). He is currently most interested in the conception of a postcolonial Kipling to be considered instead of, or at least alongside, the familiar view of Kipling as an imperial advocate.

The Kipling Society

Kipling and the Rhodes Scholars

Kipling’s boastfulness for the British Empire was matched by anxiety for its durability. The seeming formula for the Empire’s survival was the cooperation and cohesion of the mother country and the ‘white dominions’ – Kipling’s The Five Nations (1903) of Great Britain and its colonies Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony in South Africa. That strategy sought as well alignment with the lost domain of the first British Empire, the United States, famously urged by the poet in 1899 to ‘take up the White Man’s Burden’. As recounted in Something of Myself (1937), Kipling was there in Rhodes’ home when plans were formulated for what became the Rhodes Scholarships, established by his 1901 will as ‘Colonial’ and ‘American’ student stipends for ‘instilling into their minds the advantage to the Colonies as well as to the United Kingdom of the retention of the unity of the Empire.’

In 1917, Kipling took on the two great public appointments in his life, as a Commissioner of the Imperial War Graves Commission, and as a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust, ‘a bit of work he would like more than any else’ (according to his wife Carrie’s diary). In eight years of service as Trustee (he resigned in 1925 over the appointment of a Secretary to the Trust whom he thought Rhodes would have disdained), Kipling hewed closely to his understanding of the Founder’s vision, objecting to one South African nominee for lack of war service, expressing displeasure at an American Scholar’s debating position for dissolution of the Empire, and speaking at Rhodes House in Oxford to the Scholars of 1924 on their ‘Work in the Future’ as natural leaders being shaped by their shared experience of ‘exploring and assaying the minds of countries as well as of men’ (the speech was collected in A Book of Words, 1928). Today’s international student fellowship programmes which are the progeny of the Rhodes Scholarships are a legacy of Kipling’s interest in and service to the goals given shape at Groote Schuur.


David Alan Richards is a graduate of Yale College (B.A. 1967), Yale Law School (J.D. 1972), and the University of Cambridge (B.A. 1969/M.A. 1971). He is the co-editor with Thomas Pinney of Kipling and His First Publisher (2001), and the author of Rudyard Kipling: The Books I Leave Behind (the exhibition catalogue of his Kipling book and manuscript collection now at Yale, Yale University Press, 2007), and Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliography (Oak Knoll Press/British Library 2010). He practices property law in New York City with McCarter & English LLP.

Victoria University, Wellington, NZ

‘I have only come for a loaf and to see pretty things’: Kipling and the Antipodes

Kipling visited New Zealand and Australia in late 1891 at the height of his initial fame. He claimed the trip was simply a holiday and to see Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa but was that really the case? This paper explores Kipling’s probable reasons for making the trip, its literary consequences for himself and the effect of his influence on writers in the Antipodes. I shall be paying particular attention to his little-known New Zealand story ‘One Lady at Wairakei’ (which tries to imagine New Zealand’s literary future) and arguing for his influence on writers as diverse as Henry Lawson, ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Katherine Mansfield.


Harry Ricketts teaches English Literature and creative non-fiction at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His more than twenty books include two literary biographies, The Unforgiving Minute: A Life of Rudyard Kipling (1999) and Strange Meetings: The Poets of the Great War (2010), eight collections of poems and two extended personal essays. He has edited a selection of Kipling’s poems and published many critical articles on his work, most recently ‘“Nine and sixty ways”: Kipling, Ventriloquist Poet’, for the Cambridge Companion to Kipling.

Somerville College, Oxford

Kipling and Modernism

This paper will reconsider Kipling’s relationship to political and literary modernism. It will explore what might happen when the ‘two-sidedness’ of Kipling’s writing is connected to a division in modernism between ‘programmatic’ and ‘epiphanic’ modes, as described by the historian Roger Griffin in his 2007 book Modernism and Fascism. Programmatic modernism has empirical designs upon the world and is intent on changing history; epiphanic modernism, in contrast, cultivates changes ‘of a purely inner, spiritual kind with no revolutionary, epoch-making designs on “creating a new world.”’ Griffin develops the distinction drawn by Frank Kermode in The Sense of an Ending (1967) between ‘the work itself, in which the fictions are properly employed, and obiter dicta in which they are not, being either myths or dangerous pragmatic assertions’; the danger being that ‘fictions … turn easily into myths; people will live by that which was designed only to know by.’ In his see-sawing between authoritarian and complex narrative forms – ‘programmatic’ and ‘epiphanic’ in Griffin’s terms, ‘mythic’ and ‘fictive’ in Kermode’s – Kipling might be seen as an early but particularly acute case of a split manifested by numerous modernist artists, including D. H. Lawrence, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot. This reconsideration of Kipling’s relationship to modernism also impacts upon how we conceive of his imperialism.


David Sergeant is the Mary Ewart Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford. He has written on Robert Burns, Rudyard Kipling and Doris Lessing and published a collection of poetry, Talk Like Galileo.


‘Human beings and Germans’: Representations of the enemy in ‘The Edge of the Evening’ and ‘Mary Postgate’

Remarks showing extreme distaste for Germans are easy to find in Kipling’s later writings (especially the private ones). Before the First World War, however, though often critical of them, Kipling did not regard Germans as beyond the pale. This paper examines two stories about the murder of German aviators, to show the development of Kipling’s attitudes. In ?The Edge of the Evening’ (1913), the German spies, while not themselves gallant, are enemies to whom gallantry is due. The 1915 story, ?Mary Postgate’ (which is best understood as an intricate variation of the themes of the earlier story) is far more ambiguous. Mary sees the aviator as less than human, and, especially in the first-published version, the text provides a reader with clues that the excess of her anti-German zeal should be criticised. In the later version published in book form, these clues have been amended, and others have been added, seeming to suggest greater authorial endorsement of Mary’s action. This paper looks at the story in its two separate contexts of publication, and considers the extent to which its literary power comes from its unresolved moral ambiguity, and from Kipling’s ability to let his passions seep into his stories in a way that enriches rather than diminishes them.

George Simmers, after retiring from a career as a schoolteacher, undertook research at Oxford Brookes University, towards a Ph.D. in the literature in the Great War, which he was awarded in 2010. At the Kent Conference he gave a paper on Kipling and Shell-Shock, which was printed in a special edition of the Kipling Journal. He is currently working on a book about the prose literature of the Great War. He is a member of the Kipling Society. Kate TELTSCHER
Roehampton University, London

Kipling’s Hobson-Jobson

‘Everyone in the East’, a young Rudyard Kipling wrote in the Civil and Military Gazette, ‘should possess himself of Hobson-Jobson and once possessed of it should apply himself diligently thereto’. In this paper I want to ask how far Kipling followed his own advice.

A.C. Burnell and Henry Yule’s Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1886), shares with Kipling a delight in the vernacular and a fascination with the interplay of cultures. Some of the glossary’s definitions anticipate Kipling’s literary creations; the account of the Bheesty or water carrier, for instance, prefigures Gunga Din. Indian types abound in both the glossary and Kipling’s work, but there is also an attraction for Indian culture and the hybrid form.

The paper will consider the affinities between other works by Yule and Kipling. It is evident that both writers possessed a capacity for imperial memorialising. Yule’s much anthologised 1850 poem, ‘The Birkenhead’, foreshadows Kipling’s ‘Birken’ead drill’ in ‘Soldier an’ Sailor Too’ (1896). Yule’s work as a geographer informs Kipling’s story, The Man who would be King (1888). The paper will ask how these parallels might enhance our understanding of colonial literary culture.


Kate Teltscher is Reader in English Literature at Roehampton University, London. She is the author of India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800 (1995) and The High Road to China: George Bogle, The Panchen Lama and the First British Expedition to Tibet (2006) which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography. She is currently working on an edition of Hobson-Jobson for Oxford World’s Classics.

The Open University

Making the Colonised Live: Kipling and Biopolitics

Recently, commentators on contemporary global sovereignty and new forms of empire have explored the governmental use of ‘biopolitical’ strategies to meet security threats and isolate bearers of illegitimate identities such as enemy non-combatants; terrorists and ‘stateless’ persons. Backdating these ideas, my paper asks how models of biopower and governmental biopolitics, as theorised in the work of Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben, can be used to re-appraise discourses of colonial governance in Rudyard Kipling’s short fictions.

Concentrating on Kipling’s lesser known journalism, and two of his short stories, ‘William the Conqueror’ and ‘On the City Wall’, my paper asks how Kipling’s endorsement of colonial rule was bolstered by the ostensibly humanitarian emphases of a colonial biopolitics, and suggests that in the absence of older liberal-utilitarian justifications for colonial rule, the ‘authoritarian liberalism’ of public health and population control provided Kipling with something like a moral validation for empire. This assumption will be explored with reference to the representation of specific sites – such as the famine camp, the plague zone and the space of the urban riot – in Kipling’s work. In the process I will ask how the formal trace of popular Mutiny romances in the 1880s and 90s shaped Kipling’s response to these specific challenges to colonial governance.


Alex Tickell is Lecturer in English at the Open University and Director of the OU’s Postcolonial Literatures Research Group. He has held lectureships at the University of York and the University of Portsmouth, and has been the recipient of an AHRC research-grant and a visiting scholarship at St John’s College, Oxford. Alex Tickell specialises in South-Asian Literatures in English and has published widely on nineteenth-century colonial fiction and early writing in English by Indian authors. He has also published on contemporary Indian authors such as Arundhati Roy, and is currently co-ordinating a seminar series, ‘South-Asian Fiction: Contemporary Transformations’, co-hosted by London University’s School of Advanced Study, which will be held at Senate House from November. His publications include Selections from ‘Bengaliana’ (Trent Editions, 2005); Alternative Indias: Writing Nation and Communalism edited with Peter Morey (Rodopi, 2005); Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (Routledge: 2007), and he is the author of a forthcoming monograph, Terror, Insurgency and Indian-English Literature, 1830-1947 (November 2011).

Monica TURCI
the University of Bologna

Illustrations in Italian Translations of Kipling

This paper reflects on the role played by illustrations in Italian translations of Rudyard Kipling’s work. The dominant tendency in dealing with images in Kipling’s books is to view visual representations as serving a merely decorative or illustrative role, or as predominantly designed to attract younger readers. This paper reassesses the role of illustrations in Kipling’s work in the light of the contribution of contemporary interart criticism, in particular the work of W.J.T Mitchell, Hillis Miller and Jacques Derrida.

Generally speaking, despite the individual contributions, their approach has opened up new perspectives on the relation of text and image, breaking down the binary oppositions which structure conventional approaches to the relation of word and image. In each of these authors’ work pictures and words create meaning in dialogue with each other and in relation to the historical context of their cultural background. From this perspective, the inclusion of different illustrations from the original ones in Italian translations of Kipling’s work is not a case of arbitrarily substituting illustrations, but changes the way in which illustrations and text produce meanings. Through a double translation that involves not merely text but also images, Italian illustrations are viewed as acts of interpretation and creation of new meanings which are of key importance to understand how Kipling’s work has been disseminated and adapted to suit an Italian context and audience.


Monica Turci is Lecturer in English Language at the University of Bologna (Italy). She is the author of Approaching that Perfect Edge: A Reading of the Metafictional Writings of Michael Ondaatje (1967-1982) (Bologna 2001) and has co-edited Language and Verbal Art Revisited: Linguistic Approaches to the Literature Text with Donna R. Miller (London 2007). She has written on the relation between text and image and is the author of articles that approach nineteenth- and twentieth- century literature from a linguistic and cultural point of view.

Yjr Kipling Society

Kipling’s Verse for All

The Kipling Society’s ‘Readers’ Guide to Kipling’s Works’ progresses well, most obviously in terms of the proportion of the canon completed. The Prose has been annotated and is now subject to scholarly review from the editorial team. Notes on the Verse lag behind, as they did for the first version of the work in the 1970s, but there are enough completed examples of these to bear closer study. Perhaps it is time for discussion, and a doctoral thesis, deconstructing the process, and analysing the results.

Questions of academic rigour, format and style were first among the concerns of the editorial team, but subsequently the necessity to complete a reasonable proportion of the canon each year has naturally taken over a little. This paper will examine the intentions of the Society, particularly with regard to the Verse, and the extent to which these have been expanded to take advantage of the medium or adulterated by necessity. From this, it is a short step to a criticism of those earlier commentators who were limited to paper and ink.

The great strength of the new Guide, as a reference work, and as a gathering point for enthusiasts, has always been that it is an ‘epublication’. Changes and additions to text are simple to make; quite contrary views can be accommodated by establishing links to other analyses; links across the Society’s site and the Internet are simply part of the structure. However, we are all aware how the World Wide Web can disseminate misinformation, and the ‘Wiki’ phenomenon demonstrates some pitfalls.

‘Only the darkness hides the shape
Of further peril to escape.’


John Walker is a retired head teacher, who has been Honorary Librarian to the Kipling Society since 2006. He is currently Verse Editor for the Society’s New Reader’ Guide.

The Kipling Society

The Ascent from the Abyss: Resuscitating Kipling’s Hollow Men

Heart may fail, and strength outwear and Purpose turn to Loathing
But the everyday affair of business, meals and clothing,
Builds a bulkhead ‘twixt Despair and the Edge of Nothing.
[Kipling, ‘The Support’, epigraph to ‘On The Gate’]

In his address to the Kipling Society at the annual luncheon in 1958, T.S. Eliot gave a scholarly nod to the ghost of Rudyard Kipling that glided through his own ‘mature verse’. Harry Ricketts writes of the connection between, not only Debits and Credits and The Wasteland, but also that quintessentially modernist text Ulysses. Kipling’s foot soldiers, administrators and weary engineers perceive with great clarity the immense rumbling machine of Empire and recognise that they are merely its atomised cogs. In stories such as ‘At the End of the Passage’, Kipling’s heroes eke out their isolated existences in far-flung corners of the Empire. Fully aware of the meaninglessness of their lives, they turn instead to the quotidian to avert the shadow of the abyss. In this respect, Kipling’s distrust of the government or religious institutions to provide a set of absolute truth that would give meaning to an individual’s existence eerily foreshadows the concerns of those Modernist writers hot on his artistic heels.

In a number of stories in Life’s Handicap, Kipling’s empire-builders are psychically inserted in the shadow that lays between the border of the gleaming metropolitan ideal of the Empire and the actuality of its quotidian life, characterised by disorder, disease and nullifying boredom, between, in effect, the idea and the reality. But in The Day’s Work, his imperial workers balk at succumbing to the intellectual malaise that would subsequently torment Eliot’s pate-preoccupied wanderer Prufrock and Joyce’s Baudelairean flâneur, Stephen Dedalus. Faced with an administration that prioritises ubiquitous colonial authority at the expense of individual suffering, Kipling’s fictional heroes survive imperial service by pulling themselves back from the edge of a psychic abyss and forming new allegiances and prioritising different goals. Embedded in stories such as ‘The Bridge-Builders’, ‘William the Conqueror’ and ‘The Brushwood Boy’, are Kipling’s mainstays of imperial life: courage under enormous physical and mental stress, devotion to the service of others and seeing the job through to its end. This paper will chart the cri de cœur that issues from his heroes on their way into the heart of an imperial heart of darkness and demonstrate how the terror of a voided existence can be assuaged by the constant connection to loyal companions, and yet more averted by hard work and unswerving dedication to duty.


Lizzy Welby completed her PhD, entitled Out of Eden: Mapping Psychic Spaces In Rudyard Kipling’s Fiction, in September, 2010 at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. She is a Council Member of the Kipling Society, London. Her latest publications include: ‘Monstrous Mama: Confronting the Horror of Female Fecundity in Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve’ (forthcoming) and ‘Solar Midnight: Traversing the Abject Borderline State in Rudyard Kipling’s “The City of Dreadful Night”’, in The Domination of Fear, ed. by Mikko Canini (New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2010), pp. 147-171.

Debra WYNN
the Library of Congress

ipling in Oregon

This paper will discuss Kipling’s travels in the United States Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington State in 1889), particularly to Oregon, my own home state, comparing Kipling’s account of the landscape, the people, his critique of Americans in the Pacific Northwest in his published account in ‘From Sea to Sea’, with his letters to Edmonia ‘Ted’ Hill (The Oregon portion of the trip is not mentioned in detail in Andrew Lycett’s edited work Kipling Abroad). The paper will also examine the US reception of Kipling’s ‘American Notes’ specifically as they relate to the Pacific Northwest from contemporary newspaper accounts. This discussion will also draw on information from an unpublished account in the scrapbook in the William M. Carpenter Kipling Collection at the Library of Congress which gives an account of William M. Carpenter’s trip in 1925 retracing Kipling’s steps along the United States West coast and his account about Oregon in particular where Carpenter reports on his interviews with one of the gentlemen Kipling fished with on his salmon fishing trip mentioned in ‘From Sea To Sea’.

The presentation will show copies (via PowerPoint) of unpublished photographs Carpenter took along the Clackamas River where Kipling and his companions went fishing and the house identified in 1925 where Kipling stayed during his 1889 trip. It will also draw on my own research, investigating any lasting legacy or other personal recollections of reactions to Rudyard Kipling and his visit to Oregon in June 1889. This presentation hopes to build on the splendid annotations by David Page from The New Readers’ Guide of the Works of Rudyard Kipling of Chapters XXVI and XXVII of ‘From Sea to Sea’ presented on the Kipling Society website.