The writer of one of the Nation’s favourite poems, If, celebrates his 150 birthday today, but what many people may not know is that there is a local connection with the writer and poet Rudyard Kipling.
Born in India in 1865, Kipling was sent to school in England, firstly in Southsea and at the age of 12, to the United Services College in Westward Ho! George Beresford wrote about his time there in Schooldays with Kipling [D92/KIP] which is just one of the many items by and about Kipling on our shelves.
Although famous for writing stories and poetry, some of which we hold in our local collection, he was also a journalist and wrote many non-fiction items which can be found on our shelves within the general collection…these include Sea Warfare [940.45/KIP] and From Sea to Sea [910/KIP] which chronicles his travels.
During these travels he met and married his wife, Caroline and dropped in on another famous author, who can be found on our shelves, Mark Twain.
Kipling died in January 1936 and his remains were buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, a building which has another local connection, this time in the form of the local born Arts and Crafts architect William Richard Lethaby, who was the building’s surveyor in the early part of the 20th century.
Ending on a more festive note, Kipling also helped to establish a Christmas tradition when, in 1932, he was called upon to write a speech for the then King (George V) to be broadcast on Christmas Day. Thus starting many a family tradition of listing and later watching the monarchs speech on Christmas day together…