Venus Annodomini

(notes edited by John McGivering)


This story was first published in the Civil and Military Gazette on December 4th 1886 and collected in Plain Tales from the Hills in 1888, and in subsequent editions of this collection.

The story

The ‘Venus Annodomini’ is a youthful, sweet-natured, seemingly ageless but actually middle-aged, beauty, adored by all in Simla. One of her many admirers is ‘Very Young Gayerson’, a naive young officer who lays his heart at her feet, believing her to be about twenty-five. To discourage him, she mentions that her nineteen-year old daughter is shortly coming out from England to see her. This is a considerable shock to him. Then his own father comes up to Simla from Bengal, turns out to have been an admirer of the Venus Annodomini twenty years before, and takes her out riding. The young man’s disillusionment – and cure – is complete.


Andrew Lycett in his Rudyard Kipling (p. 144), says the adorable Venus Annodomini was a Mrs. Parry-Lambert, wife of a colonel in the Public Works Department. He notes further (p. 158) that rumour in Simla had it that Kipling was engaged to her daughter Amy, but found her ugly and talentless.

Those who may wonder at the stupidity of a young man who is unable to estimate the age of a wonan when he sees her in daylight are reminded of the heading to “Beyond the Pale”, also in this volume; ‘love heeds not caste nor sleep a broken bed. I went in search of love and lost myself’.