Rudyard Kipling


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), poet, novelist and writer or children’s short stories, is primarily associated with India but also spent time in South Africa.
In 1891, on the advice of his doctor, Kipling embarked on a sea voyage in which he first visited South Africa on his way to Australia, New Zealand and India.
In 1898 Kipling began travelling to southern Africa for winter vacations almost every year. In South Africa Kipling met and befriended Cecil Rhodes, who gave him a house.
During his early visits he began collecting material for another of his children’s classics, the Just So Stories for Little Children, published in 1902. Two of the typically South African short stories include ‘The Elephant’s Child’ (which name-checks Kimberley, Grahamstown and the Limpopo River) and ‘How the Leopard Got His Spots.’
In 1899 on the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, Kipling became involved in a campaign for service charities, named after one of his poems, ‘The Absent-Minded Beggar’.
Lekker Links
The Kipling Society Cecil Rhodes
Leander Starr Jameson
The absent-minded beggar
The elephant’s child
How the leopard got his spots
If…
In 1990 Kipling visited South Africa again, where he continued war work and writings, including two weeks in Bloemfontein on the newspaper The Friend, published by the British army.
According to Kipling, his famous poem ‘If’ was written in celebration of Leander Starr Jameson’s personal qualities at overcoming the difficulties of the Jameson Raid, for which he largely took the blame.
The Honoured Dead Memorial in Kimberley was built at the behest of Cecil Rhodes to honour those who died defending Kimberley during the siege of Kimberley in 1899-1900.
On the base of the memorial is an inscription by Kipling, which he wrote specifically for this memorial: ‘This for a charge to our children in sign of the price we paid. The price that we paid for freedom that comes unsoiled to your hand. Read, revere and uncover, here are the victors laid. They that died for their city being son’s of the land.’


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