Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1902)
Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling (1902)

Rudyard Kipling, (1865-1936) had a tremendous impact on the literary world with his short stories, poetry and novels. Kipling is most well known for his fantastically imaginative tales for children including the classic Just So Stories and the Jungle Book, but he was a prolific author and his works covered a broad range of subjects.

Kipling was born in Bombay, India, and at the age of five moved to England with his family. Kipling was inspired by the length and breadth of the British Empire, which featured so often in his writing, but his critics described him as a relic of Imperialism. Over the course of his life, Kipling was an avid traveller and saw much of the world. For several years Kipling and his wife Carrie Balestier lived in Vermont where their first child was born. It was in Vermont that Kipling first began writing the Jungle Books. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature - the first English-language writer to receive it.

The Jungle Book, a collection of short stories about anthropomorphic animals, was first published in magazines in 1893 and 1894. The best known tales from the collection include the three stories about the adventures of an abandoned "man cub" named Mowgli, who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. Also popular is the famous story of the snake-fighting mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The Jungle Book was later used by the Cub Scouts as a motivational book because of its positive moral tone. In 1895, Kipling wrote the Second Jungle Book which included five further tales about Mowgli. The Just So Stories, first published in 1902, is still popular today and includes highly fantasised stories of how certain animals came to be. The first edition of Just So Stories was illustrated by Kipling himself.

Many authors over the years have credited Kipling as one of their influences. Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods, Coraline and many other titles, claims the Jungle Book inspired The Graveyard Book.

Kipling’s death was famously prematurely reported by a magazine, to which he wrote, "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers." He eventually died on January 18, 1936.

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10 Most Expensive Rudyard Kipling Books Sold on AbeBooks

1. The Works of Rudyard Kipling - £17,500
Kipling's complete works, published as the Sussex Edition in 35 large octavo volumes by Macmillan in 1937.

2. Kim - £5,040
Author's copy with 30 plates, 15 large headpiece vignettes, 15 ornamental initials and 11 tailpieces, all color - printed wood engravings.

3. The Burwash Edition of the Complete Works in Prose - £2,910
Signed limited edition. This signed limited set is #424 of 1010 featuring the author's final revisions (the equivalent English set was the Sussex Edition). A fine set in original publisher's dark red cloth with gilt to spines and gilt motif to uppers, top edges gilt; dark red end papers with author's monograms; in their original cream dust wrappers, titled and decorated in dark red to spines and uppers.

3. The Works of Rudyard Kipling - £2,910
Limited edition 26 volume set. Volume one signed by Kipling on the half-title page.

4. The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book [Set] - £2,500
Two-volume set of both Jungle Books, both first editions.

5. Just So Stories - £2,375
Finely bound in crimson morocco by the Chelsea Bindery, including 12 black and white illustrations by Kipling.

6. The Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling - £2,299
28 volumes. Red cloth with gilt medallion on the front covers, gilt spines, titles printed in red and black. Limited edition of 1000 sets printed on fine paper. Vol. 1 is signed by Kipling.

7. Complete Works - Burwash Edition Signed - £2,099
The best American edition published in the fall of 1941 from sheets signed by Kipling before his death. Twenty eight volumes, signed in volume one. Limited to 1010 numbered sets (this number 74). Original red buckram stamped in gilt on front cover, lettered in gilt on spine.

8. The Jungle Book and the Second Jungle Book - £2,010
Two volumes, both first editions, first impressions. Both volumes housed in a dark blue full leather book box.

9. The Jungle Book and the Second Jungle Book - £1,940
Signed presentation from Kipling to his literary agent. Illustrated profusely and pretty bindings.

10. Kim  - £1,615
First edition. Laid in is a typed letter signed by the author, Rudyard Kipling, dated December 3, 1912 on his printed stationery regarding his novel Kim. For a long time, Kipling considered writing a sequel, and he writes his correspondent: "I am in receipt of your letter of Nov. 14 asking what my idea is about the future life of Kim after the close of his history as written. I can only say in reply that, when I have made up my mind on the subject, I shall hope to embody my ideas in another volume."


Interesting Rudyard Kipling Facts

  • Rudyard Kipling's first name was Joseph.

  • Kipling's most famous relative was his first cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who was Prime Minister of the UK three times in the 1920s and 1930s.

  • Kipling was an avid traveller and visited many parts of the world including: San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, United States, Canada (including Victoria and Vancouver) South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

  • On January 18th, 1892, Kipling married Caroline (Carrie) Starr Balestier in London. Henry James gave away the bride.

  • Kipling wrote two science fiction short stories, With the Night Mail (1905) and As Easy As A. B. C (1912), both set in the 21st century in Kipling's Aerial Board of Control universe.

  • In a 1995 BBC opinion poll, Kipling's If was voted the UK's favourite poem.

  • Kipling was a Freemason and wrote about his love of the masonic experience in his poem, The Mother Lodge.

  • Kipling's son John died in World War I at the age of 18. John was originally rejected by the military due to poor eyesight but was accepted after his father pulled some strings for him.

  • Kipling became friends with a French soldier whose life had been saved in World War I when his copy of Kim, which he had in his left breast pocket, stopped a bullet. The soldier presented Kipling with the book (with the bullet still embedded) and his Croix de Guerre as a token of gratitude. They continued to correspond, and when the soldier had a son, Kipling insisted on returning the book and medal.

  • A crater on the planet Mercury is named after Kipling.


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