Vermont hosts Kipling Society’s 1st meeting outside UK

Kipling in the library of his Vermont home (top), which he named Naulakha.
Kipling in the library of his Vermont home (top), which he named Naulakha.

MONTPELIER — Some of the most famous 19th-century children’s stories written by British author Rudyard Kipling were first put to page in southeastern Vermont near where the world’s top Kipling scholars are meeting this week to discuss his works.

From his home in Dummerston overlooking the Connecticut River, the Nobel Prize-winning author wrote ‘‘The Jungle Book,’’ starring Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves in the wilds of India, and the hero mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, who saved his adopted human family from poisonous cobras.

He also penned ‘‘Captains Courageous,’’ the poems of ‘‘The Seven Seas’’ and many of the stories in ‘‘The Day’s Work’’ and ‘‘Many Inventions’’ during his four years in Vermont.


On Monday and Tuesday, some of the world’s foremost Kipling scholars are gathering at Marlboro College for the first-ever meeting of the London-based Kipling Society outside the United Kingdom.

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The society chose Marlboro both for its proximity to his estate, Naulakha, and for its Kipling collection, which includes the contents of his safe deposit box discovered untouched in the early 1990s after almost a century in a Brattleboro bank.

‘‘We reflected on the fact that Kipling spent his first four married years in Vermont. They were extraordinarily productive years,’’ said the Kipling Society’s John Radcliffe, who will be traveling from the United Kingdom to attend the meeting. ‘‘He worked creatively and industriously in a settled place that he loved. It was an extraordinarily interesting phase of his life and of his work.’’

Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865 and went to England at age 5. He returned to India when he was 16 and began to write for newspapers read by British expatriates. In his spare time, he wrote poetry and stories that formed the basis for his early fame.

‘‘He wrote spell-bindingly for children. He had extraordinary genius for communicating with children,’’ Radcliffe said. ‘‘He was a very, very original mind and an original writer.’’


Kipling was attracted to Vermont in 1892 by a relative of his American wife. He abandoned the house in 1896 after a spat with his wife’s relatives.

He decided never to return after his beloved younger daughter, Josephine, for whom ‘‘The Just So Stories’’ were written, died in 1899 during an Atlantic crossing.

Kipling sold Naulakha and 11 acres to a local family in 1903. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize.