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Kipling Archive

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Collection Description

The lives of Kipling’s parents, John Lockwood Kipling (1837–1911, commonly known as ‘Lockwood’) and Alice Macdonald (1837–1910) are documented in the early part of the Archive. Lockwood was a teacher of architectural sculpture in India, and his life there is, in part, documented in line and wash: sketchbooks are filled with head studies, scenes of life in India and renderings of craftsmen and buildings. The books contain a handful of drawings by eminent Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, Lockwood’s brother-in-law. Lockwood later produced drawings for Rudyard’s The Jungle Book; these are also included. In addition to the wealth of visual material, the papers of Kipling’s parents contain some correspondence and a selection of press-cuttings from Lockwood’s journalism in which he reports on government business and official visits in India.

The documents of Rudyard Kipling himself include personal, literary and legal manuscripts, and printed papers. Much of the material concerns the business of publishing, including correspondence regarding copyright, reprints, jacket designs and proofs, in addition to court records of an appeal in a case against publisher G P Putnam’s Sons over an unauthorised edition of his collected works (1901) and correspondence with a copyright lawyer from New York.

Kipling’s writings are represented through press-cuttings, some rare editions and manuscripts. His early career as journalist and poet began in India in the 1880s and many bound volumes contain cuttings of articles and verses Kipling contributed to The Civil and Military Gazette, Saturday Review and others (1884–91) from his time in Lahore. Cuttings of printed stories and poems (1892–1910), mainly from English papers, include Captains Courageous and the Just So Stories; there is also coverage in both South African and English newspapers of his poem ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’, written as part of a fundraising drive to support dependants of British soldiers during the Boer War. The period 1910–30 is represented by stories and journalism published in English and American periodicals.

Records in the Archive disclose details of Kipling manuscripts gifted to various institutions, including the Bodleian Library and the British Museum, either donated during his lifetime or bequeathed after his death. However, the Kipling Archive contains some remarkable holdings in its own right, including many poems in Kipling’s own hand from the earliest stages of his career. One volume includes a title page illustrated with a grotesque ‘portrait of the author’; later verses are represented by drafts and fair copies. The Archive also holds some rare printed works.

The files of correspondence in the Archive reflect the circles in which the Kiplings moved, and the high-profile connections they made or married into. Kipling’s mother, Alice, had three sisters who all married well; Rudyard’s uncles included painter Edward Burne-Jones, businessman Alfred Baldwin (father of Stanley, later a Conservative Prime Minister) and Edward Poynter, President of the Royal Academy of Arts. There are 41 letters from Kipling to Stanley Baldwin, spanning four decades, and exchanges with various members of the Burne-Jones family. Over 200 letters are to his children Elsie and John; many are illustrated. Other correspondents include Robert Baden-Powell, Winston Churchill and schoolfriend Lionel Dunsterville ( see also the Kipling–Dunsterville Letters). Literary peers are represented through correspondence with H Rider Haggard (over 40 letters from Kipling) and Mark Twain. There are letters of condolence received on the death of Kipling’s daughter Josephine and on the death of son John during the First World War.

There is a large amount of fan mail from both literary peers and general readers describing their responses to Kipling’s published works. Among the eminent correspondents from the first half of Kipling’s career are Winston Churchill, Lord Kitchener, Joseph Conrad, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Later works generated lively exchanges with HG Wells and AA Milne.

One file of correspondence relates to Kipling’s work with the Imperial War Graves Commission, undertaken in response to the loss of his son in battle and through which he became friends with George V. Letters responding to Kipling’s public speeches give some indication of the controversies he sparked by, for example, attacking government policy in Ireland. There is a letter objecting to Kipling’s seemingly Prussianistic politics as expounded in his pamphlet Kipling’s Message (1918). There are also copies of speeches by Prince George, and the King’s Christmas broadcasts to which Kipling, an occasional speech-writer, contributed.
Kipling battled ill-health throughout his career and this is documented in the Archive through correspondence and his own notes.
Among the miscellaneous items, all of which illustrate tangential aspects of Kipling’s work, are scripts of adaptations for stage and screen of various works, the visitors’ book of Bateman’s, Rudyard and wife Carrie’s home at Burwash, East Sussex, and a series of pen and ink drawings by Kipling himself.

The Kipling Archive is rounded off with some papers of the Kiplings’ children; just a handful of letters produced during the short lives of Josephine and John, but more voluminous correspondence from Elsie, including dealings regarding her father’s life and work she undertook as his heir. There are also many family photographs illustrating the Kiplings’ lives at different times, and in different corners of the globe.

Various additions made to the main collection include a set of extracts from Carrie’s diaries, copied from the originals.

Archival history

The Kipling Archive was deposited at the University of Sussex by the National Trust in 1978. The papers were accumulated by Rudyard Kipling, his wife Carrie and their daughter Elsie Bambridge. Elsie was Kipling’s only surviving descendant and, with the help of Kipling’s former secretary Cecily Nicholson, she began to sort the documents she had inherited. To ease the task of the official biographer, Mrs Bambridge regained possession of further letters in the sale-room and had copies made of others which remained in private hands. When she died in 1976, a childless widow, Wimpole Hall (her Cambridgeshire home) and its archive passed to the National Trust.

 

 

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