The youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature was the 41-year-old Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), who was honoured in 1907 for his gifted story-telling. This fact indicates the impact he had made worldwide from the very beginnings of his prolific writing career, with classics such as ‘Gunga Din’ (1890) ‘The Jungle Book’ (1894), ‘Captains Courageous’ (1897), ‘Kim’ (1901) and the ‘Just So Stories’ (1902) already under his belt. His most famous poem ‘If-‘, was published in 1910.
Born in British India (UK territory as was), Kipling was bi-lingual as a child. After education in England, he went back to India, a place he loved, at age 16 and worked as a journalist initially. He began to taste success with his tales and verses for children, so returned to England to pursue new opportunities. He lived in the USA for a while with his American wife, but upon their eldest daughter dying of pneumonia after sailing across the Atlantic to New York in 1899, he vowed never to set foot there again.
These experiences, along with losing his son in WW1, influenced his compassionate portrayal of the common man, the ordinary soldier, the stoic Brit toiling away in an Empire we can only glimpse today through works such as Kipling’s.
(Image: Elliott & Fry at Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)