The Haileybury connection

Haileybury is extremely privileged to have custody of this important manuscript which it has held since 1942; and I, as Archivist, have always felt specially so to be its custodian. When the volume first came from a Windsor bank to Haileybury in 1962 the school was extremely cautious, putting it on display very rarely, so that very few were aware of it at all. More recently, even though it is kept extremely securely, it is brought out whenever someone expresses an interest or on special occasions. How then has the school come to be its custodian?

In 1874 Cormell Price, the Housemaster of one of the Haileybury Houses, Colvin, was appointed to be the first head of the United Services College at Westward Ho! in Devon, a school recently founded to educate boys for the Army Exam. Five senior boys from Haileybury formed the nucleus of the new school, so Haileybury was well known to Kipling. who went to Westward Ho! in 1878. Haileybury even has a mention by name in Stalky &. Co., which, as you know, was based on his own experiences and on the boys and masters he knew.

How did the boys at Haileybury react to the publication of Stalky & Co. in 1899? The connection between the USC and Haileybury must have been well understood, and the USC culture reflected the Haileybury culture, so boys at Haileybury were keenly sensitive to Stalky & Co. The Literary Society in June 1900 debated the motion “that Stalky & Co. gave an unfair character to the English Schoolboy”. It was agreed that it was an amusing book in the tradition of The Day’s Work and Gerald Eversley’s Friendship, two school stories written about that time, but that it depicted only “the lowest & worst type of boy” unable to speak the Queen’s English and lacking pride in the school and House. It condemned the scoffing at masters and prefects and felt that the reading public would withdraw its support for Public Schools. The motion was carried by one vote, and this by a Society which had passed a motion supporting corporal punishment by nearly 100 votes a few weeks before. I wonder whether Clement Attlee attended that debate? He certainly never spoke but then he claimed himself that he was too shy ever to speak in public debates at school. I also wonder whether the book had an adverse effect on the USC which was in considerable decline at the turn of the century.

In 1903 the Imperial Service Trust was formed in London to help the education of the sons of Army officers and was invited to support the ailing USC. The Trust was sympathetic but felt that the school should be much closer to London. So in 1904 it moved into the buildings of an old school in Harpenden, St. George’s, but difficulties emerged about the lease of the buildings, so the USC moved again to Windsor, amalgamating with St.Mark’s, a small Victorian private school, supported by the Imperial Service Trust and much favoured by royalty. Six years later a new Headmaster came from a school near Maidenhead which also specialized in preparing for the Army Exam, and he suggested a change of name – to the Imperial Service College. The ISC was therefore the direct successor to Kipling’s old school which he had always greatly favoured and immortalized in Stalky & Co.

The Imperial Service College and the Trust flourished at Windsor, enjoying considerable favour from the Royal Family. When Kipling died he bequeathed the manuscript of Stalky & Co. to the care of the Trust which raised funds for the Memorial Hall with its Jungle Book plaque and the financing of Kipling Scholarships for Commonwealth boys. Three years later the war threatened the future of the ISC which approached a number of schools with the prospect of amalgamation. Dover College was considered but would only accept temporary evacuation; Canford was also approached but failed to progress. So it was that the approach was made to Haileybury which after all had that early connection with Westward Ho!

Thus in the summer of 1942 128 boys from Windsor and several masters moved to Hertfordshire and the two schools were formally amalgamated. Shortly after the assets of the Imperial Service Trust were transferred to Haileybury and Imperial Service College which included the manuscript of Stalky & Co. In legal terms the ISC continued to exist in the new school and so the terms of Kipling’s bequest still applied; but the manuscript remained in the Trust’s Bank in Windsor until, in 1962, the Centenary of the original Haileybury College, when it was brought to the school for display, possibly for the first time ever.

The volume was known to be very valuable and had to be treated with the utmost care but the Bank also charged a fee whenever it was released for exhibition or research, so sometime after 1986 the Bursar retained it in his safe, and it has since been occasionally displayed. When the school created the Archives Department in 1989 it was transferred to the care of the Archivist who continued to keep it very securely. It had already been known that the unpublished “Scylla & Charybdis” was contained at the end, though exactly where it fitted was never clear, nor was it ever transcribed. Carrie Kipling’s condition, contained in the front inside cover, that it should never be used for collation, encouraged caution, but the school now welcomes the approach of the Kipling Society and is pleased that the story should be the subject of critical examination. Ladies and Gentlemen I bring you the best wishes of the Master of Haileybury and his desire that your symposium might provide an answer to some of its mysteries.

Andrew Hambling, April 7th 2004.