The British Empire

Talk on Kipling’s Imperialism

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was one of Britain's greatest figures. He virtually invented the short story genre and his verse evoked the sights, sounds and smells of the British Empire and of a a world then imagined by a generation of children. He was a child of the Empire and spent many years living and working in India before crossing the oceans of the world. He came to be regarded as an Imperial Laureate although he would never accept any official title or accolade.

Throughout his life, Kipling had a close association with the men and officers of the British army, and based many of his stories and verse on their wars and working conditions. He came to know soldiers based in Lahore and Allahabad during his time working on the Civil and Military Gazette and later the Pioneer and tried to educate a public at home in Britain about the lives of these brave men who were responsible for policing and protecting the Empire.

During the Boer War he visited the soldiers on trek and wounded or ill in hospital, and once back in Britain campaigned to have the army improved and capable of meeting what he was certain was the threat from Germany.

This talk looks at how Kipling developed his ideas on the Empire and what these ideas were. Did he believe in independence for the Indian people or did he think that the British would rule them forever? He became close friend with Rhodes and Miner but did he share their views on race and the British? Was Kipling indeed a racist. All these questions and more will be considered.

For more information on Kipling click here

Rudyard Kipling - the Imperial laureate