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Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865 and spent his early years there, before being sent, aged six, to England, a desperately unhappy experience. Charles Allen's great-grandfather brought the sixteen-year-old Kipling out to Lahore to work on The Civil and Military Gazette with the words 'Kipling will do', and thus set young Rudyard on his literary course. And so it was that at the start of the cold weather of 1882 he stepped ashore at Bombay on 18 October 1882 - 'a prince entering his kingdom'. He stayed for seven years during which he wrote the work that established him as a popular and critical, sometimes controversial, success. Charles Allen has written a brilliant account of those years - of an Indian childhood and coming of age, of abandonment in England, of family and Empire. He traces the Indian experiences of Kipling's parents, Lockwood and Alice and reveals what kind of culture the young writer was born into and then returned to when still a teenager. It is a work of fantastic sympathy for a man - though not blind to Kipling's failings - and the country he loved.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349116853
ISBN-10: 0349116857
Format: Paperback
(157mm x 200mm x 30mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 4-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Historian Allen (God's Terrorists, 2005, etc.) chronicles the British author's early years.Allen is a particularly apt Kipling biographer - "I was born to write this book," he writes - because his great-grandfather, George Allen, was one of the joint owners of the Indian newspapers Pioneer and Civil and Military Gazette (CMG), where the young Kipling was first employed as a journalist. Moreover, Allen's formative years were spent amid a rich Anglo-Indian heritage and "Kiplingiana." Here, Allen explores and illuminates the sources of Kipling's early books, such as Plain Tales from the Hills (1888), Soldiers Three (1888) and Life's Handicap (1891). Born in Bombay to an impecunious emigre couple - noted illustrator and teacher John Lockwood Kipling and his artistic wife, Alice Macdonald - Kipling and his younger sister Trix enjoyed a princely early childhood under the lax supervision of parents and servants. However, in 1871, the family returned to England for furlough, and the siblings were deposited with a foster family in Southsea for what stretched into a five years' abandonment at the dreaded place they would later call "House of Desolation." Back in India, with Lockwood now relocated to Lahore, "Ruddy" spent ages 11 to 23 between there, Simla and Allahabad. During this time he absorbed and recorded the Islamic and Hindu cultures, caste system, Hot Weather imagery and follies of the British government and military hierarchy in hundreds of short stories, sketches and poems, many published in the Pioneer and CMG, where he worked from age 16 until his decision, in 1889, to return to England to further his career. All this material would later be refined beautifully in Kim (1901). Allen shares his intimate knowledge of this "man of permanent contradictions," and fans of Kipling's fiction will appreciate the loving attention Allen gives his work.A deeply sympathetic look at the young author and his milieu. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Charles Allen

Charles Allen is the author of a number of bestselling books about Indian and the colonial experience elsewhere. A traveller, historian and master storyteller he is one of the great chroniclers of India.

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