A New Novel Imagines Rudyard Kipling's Time In Vermont

Oct 7, 2013

Most people know the famous English literary figure Rudyard Kipling for writing about the British in India and his children’s tales like The Jungle Book. But what many people don’t know is that Rudyard Kipling also had a connection to Vermont.

Mary Hamer spoke with Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb  about her new novel “Kipling and Trix,” which imagines a story centered around Kipling and his sister.

Kipling lived in Brattleboro for 4 years and built a beautiful house called Naulakha there, which is now owned by the Landmark Trust of VT. He lived in Brattleboro from 1892-1896.

(On his time living in Brattleboro)

“I think, you know, the natives didn’t really take to him… because he was an awkward customer… and he did tactless things like drive into town with a tiger skin spread over the back of  his sleigh, and he arranged to have a special post office set up for him personally because he had so much mail.”

“He began the first story of the Jungle Book and finished it the day that his first child was born and it was  an incredibly creative moment for him living in Brattleboro.”

(On Kipling leaving VT due to a confrontation with Kipling’s brother-in law)

“He encountered Rudyard in the street and said if you don’t stop spreading these lies about me I’m going to kill you!” 

Hamer says Kipling viewed imperialism as an opportunity. to make the most of a place, and to foster a better economic climate to improve living conditions, but that there is much to deplore in his prejudices against native peoples. She says his quote about the “white man’s burden” is from a poem he wrote being pleased about the US takeover of the Phillipines .

Kipling scholars from the United Kingdom and the U.S. will be at Vermont's Marlboro College Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 7 and 8, 2013, for the first-ever meeting of the Kipling Society outside the U.K.