Student’s Kipling research presented to National Trust

English student Nick Skidmore in Rudyard Kipling's study at Bateman's

University-funded research by a Sussex undergraduate into Rudyard Kipling's correspondence is to go on display at Bateman’s, the author’s Sussex home.

Final-year English literature student Nick Skidmore undertook the research, supervised by Senior Lecturer in English Dr Alastair Davies, as part of the Junior Research Associate bursary scheme, which gives second-year undergraduates interested in pursuing further study a chance to try postgraduate research during the summer months.

Now Nick’s research, which was presented at a special exhibition for JRA bursary-holders’ work, will go on display at Bateman’s, the Kipling family home near Burwash in East Sussex, which is now in the care of the National Trust.

Nick visited Bateman’s, a splendid Jacobean house, and spent time in Kipling’s study, which remains as a shrine to the great writer of Kim, The Jungle Book and poems such as If.

Nick says: “Bateman’s gives the public a wonderful opportunity to explore Kipling’s home and delve into the heavily guarded private life of one of our great  writers, a man whose work brought so much joy, yet whose life was tinged with sadness. It’s a considerable honour to have the opportunity to display my research there.”

Nick chose to study the writer Rudyard Kipling and his complex relationship with the British. Empire and the First World War, making use of the University archive of Kipling papers, housed in the Library’s Special Collections division.

Aside from his moral and political convictions, Kipling also had to come to terms with the death of his only son John, who was killed in action in the Battle of Loos in 1915.

The collection includes Kipling’s correspondence with his son, including John’s last letter from the Front. The grief-stricken Kiplings spent the rest of the war trying to find out what had happened to their son who, like millions of others, disappeared on the battlefields of France and Belgium.

Nick says: “It is Kipling’s poem The Children that is, perhaps, the most haunting of Kipling’s verses about the Great War. It does not linger on politics, or vendetta but rather demonstrates the tortuous workings of the imagination amongst the echoes of the refrain ’But who shall return us our children?” It is here we find Kipling at his most honest.”

Elaine Francis-Truett, Property Manager for Bateman's, says: “It is a pleasure to support Nick in his research by displaying the culmination of his study here at Bateman’s. I have every confidence the hard work undertaken by Nick will help our visitors discover even more about the private life of the Kipling family, the hardships they endured along with all families involved in the Great War and hope that this will reveal even more of Kipling the family man, alongside that of Kipling the great author.”

Notes for Editors


The University of Sussex Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme was introduced with great success in 2008. Funded by the University, with support from alumni donations, the scheme aims to provide bright undergraduates with the opportunity to get a taste of life as a researcher by working on research projects developed in tandem with leading research staff at Sussex. A total of 30 bursaries worth up to £1,800 each were awarded to Sussex undergraduates after a very competitive application process involving more than 80 submissions. Applicants had to demonstrate the value of their proposed projects as well as a real interest in pursuing postgraduate study at Sussex following graduation. For further information see: JRA scheme

To learn more about the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex, see the Special Collections web pages.

Bateman’s is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. If you would like to visit, go to the Bateman’s web site

For further information contact the University of Sussex Press office


Last updated: Tuesday, 17 November 2009