Preface to The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling

THE demands made by a work of this nature upon the generosity of specialists are very numerous, and the Editor would be wanting in all title to the generous treatment he has received were he not willing to make the fullest possible acknowledgment of his indebtedness.

His thanks are due in the first place to the scholarly and accomplished Bahadur Shah, baggage elephant 174 on the Indian Register, who, with his amiable sister Pudmini, most courteously supplied the history of ‘Toomai of the Elephants’ and much of the information contained in ‘Her Majesty’s Servants.’ The adventures of Mowgli were collected at various times and in various places from a multitude of informants, most of whom desire to preserve the strictest anonymity. Yet, at this distance, the Editor feels at liberty to thank a Hindu gentleman of the old rock, an esteemed resident of the upper slopes of Jakko, for his convincing if somewhat caustic estimate of the national characteristics of his caste—the Presbytes. Sahi, a savant of infinite research and industry, a member of the recently disbanded Seeonee Pack, and an artist well known at most of the local fairs of Southern India, where his muzzled dance with his master attracts the youth, beauty, and culture of many villages, have contributed most valuable data on people, manners, and customs. These have been freely drawn upon, in the stories of ‘Tiger! Tiger!’, ‘Kaa’s Hunting,’ and ‘Mowgli’s Brothers.’ For the outlines of ‘Rikki-tikki-tavi’ the Editor stands indebted to one of the leading herpetologists of Upper India, a fearless and independent investigator who, resolving ‘not to live but know,’ lately sacrificed his life through over-application to the study of our Eastern Thanatophidia. A happy accident of travel enabled the Editor, when a passenger on the Empress of India, to be of some slight assistance to a fellow-passenger. How richly his poor services were repaid, readers of ‘The White Seal’ may judge for themselves.