Kipling was born in India of English parents, and spent the first five years of his childhood there. He was then sent to relatives in England for his education, where he experienced “a certain amount of bullying,” as he later wrote.
In an historical oddity, Kipling spent this part of his childhood in the nondescript town of Southsea, where in just a few years the teenage H.G. Wells and the young doctor Arthur Conan Doyle would briefly live. All three would become major writers whose work lives on in contemporary culture.
At 16, Kipling returned to India to work for a newspaper. He spent seven years or so in that vast country as a writer and editor. Some of his newspaper stories were collected in a book, and with the money it earned he decided to return to London.
But he did so by way of North America. Kipling sailed to San Francisco and eventually took a train to Portland, Oregon on a route apparently a bit inland from the North Coast. He later traveled to Seattle and British Columbia, then through the Midwestern US to Pennsylvania and New York (where he met and befriended Mark Twain) before crossing the Atlantic to England.
|The Twain-Kipling meeting was so famous that it|
became the subject of this Old Crown Whiskey ad.
But he must have liked what he saw, because after a few years as a budding author in England, he got married and selected the United States for his honeymoon. And it turned out to be a long one—about four years. He and his wife remained in Vermont, and had two daughters there. (By this time he was friends with Conan Doyle, who visited him in Vermont and taught him to play golf. Though he hadn’t met H.G. Wells, they had the same London editor.)
During those Vermont years, Kipling wrote some of his most famous works, including the poem “Gunga Din,” the novel Captains Courageous, and the tales set in the jungles of India, collected in two volumes of The Jungle Book.
His work following his U.S. stay in particular became controversial, and marked him as an apologist for imperialism and militarism. But at least in his early work, he was an intuitive writer. His motto for writing was “drift, wait and obey.”