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Something of Myself: For My Friends Known and Unknown

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Rudyard Kipling.

Kipling's autobiography recalls his childhood in India, his schooldays and family life in the pre-Raphaelite circle that included William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and his early writing career up to the award of the Nobel Prize (when he was only … see full wiki

Author: Rudyard Kipling
Publisher: Penguin UK
1 review about Something of Myself: For My Friends Known...

"I had a vague notion of an Irish boy, born in India and mixed up with native life"

  • Mar 20, 2011
At the beginning of Rudyard Kipling's autobiography (of sorts, it is rather brief) published in 1937, we are told that the author is 69 years old as he writes. Towards the end of the eighth and final chapter of SOMETHING OF MYSELF FOR FRIENDS KNOWN AND UNKNOWN he implies that death is not far in his future, as indeed it was not. He was born in 1865 in Bombay and died suddenly in England in 1936.

In between he was a mistreated schoolboy in coastal England, a budding writer in his secondary school at Westward Ho! in Devon, a very young assistant editor in India, a world traveler, poet, short story writer, novelist, husband and father, 1907 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and supreme interpreter of what it felt like to revel in the British Empire.

SOMETHING OF MYSELF moves straightforwardly ahead chronologically, sketching years at a time. The final chapter lays out the tricks Rudyard had learned about how to write, or at least how he, Kipling, should write. Verify your facts. Write too much then edit it down. If you deliberately "write short" the first time, your piece will not catch fire. Ignore critics. Etc.

We form the impression that for every word that he published, Kipling destroyed a hundred. His best works, including KIM and THE JUNGLE BOOKS, he thinks, virtually wrote themselves. Kipling simply gave his Daemon its head. Some of his best work was done collaboratively, notably KIM, hammered out with his father who famously appeared in the novel as Curator of the Lahore Wonder House. "I had a vague notion of an Irish boy, born in India and mixed up with native life." Kipling did much the same with his friend Rider Haggard.

For one long stretch of years his family wintered near Capetown, South Africa and summered in England. Rudyard was in South Africa during the Boer War and the founding of Rhodesia. Cecil Rhodes was his neighbor. And we see the tongue-tied Rhodes begging Kipling to help him find the right words to launch his Rhodes Scholarships. Rhodes also loaned from his little zoo up the hill from the Kiplings a lion cub rejected by its mother. Mrs Kipling nursed the baby with a bottle and for several months the youngster was quite the pet.

Rudyard Kipling also tells what was on his mind when he wrote the famous poem, "If," as well as semi-autobiographical tales such as his 1899 classic of English boarding school life, STALKY & CO.

If you love Rudyard Kipling, this book is a must.


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