Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy Birthday Rudyard

Rudyard Kipling was born On the 30th in 1865 in the beautiful city of Bombay. At that time Bombay was still part of the British Empire. He celebrated this empire and is best known for his short stories, tales and poems. He returned to England at the age of 5. Kipling has been called the 'innovator in the art of the short story'.
I guess all of us have read or seen 'The Jungle Book'. Who of us haven't seen the Disney films and still sing along to 'The Bare Neccesities'? This book is a set of short stories and was published in 1894. The short stories are fables and centre around Mowgli, who is raised in the wood by wolves and the bear Baloo and the panther Bagheera.

Some facts:
  • He got his son a commission in the army during WW1 although the boy had poor eyesight. This is why he was initially turned down but he did get a commission after all. His son died in the Battle of Loos in 1915. Kipling's poem 'My Boy Jack' was inspired by this.
  • In 1995 his poem If was voted the UK's favourite poem
  • He was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel price for Literature in 1907. He was 42 at the time and is still the youngest-ever recipient, at least to my knowledge.
  • He was a good friend of the founder of Rhodesia, Cecil Rhodes.
In some old copies of Kipling's books a swastika can be found, next to an elephant carrying a lotus-flower. I was surprised and slightly shocked by this, until I found out it had nothing to do with Nazi's. He was born in India and the Swastika is an Indian symbol for the sun, which brings good luck. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning 'auspicious object'. Before the Nazi's came to power he had it removed because he didn't want to be associated with them, luckily.

So, let's all wish him a happy birthday, shall we?

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