Kipling is known as the poet of the British Empire. He was a superb phrase-maker, whose poems gave us expressions such as 'white man's burden' and 'the law of the jungle'. The phrase, 'Lest we forget', so closely associated with war memorials and Remembrance Day ceremonies, was coined by Kipling in his poem Recessional, composed for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1865 to Anglo-Indian parents and was educated in England. He returned to India when he was 16 to take a position at the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette, where he wrote his first stories. Kipling moved back to live in London in 1889 and in 1907, at the height of his fame, he was the first English language writer to receive the Nobel Prize. However, as people's attitudes towards the Empire started to change, Kipling was increasingly accused of jingoistic vulgarity. Kipling challenged many of these attitudes himself, and when his son was killed in the First World War, wrote: 'If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied.'
His poem If, with its celebration of stoic manly values, still inspires strong feelings, and a quote from it is written by the entrance to Wimbledon's Centre Court, to stir up the players. Kipling was a gifted storyteller and if interest in his poetry ever wanes, his reputation will live on for the creation of children's classics such as The Jungle Book.
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And- which is more- you'll be a Man, my son!
The Nation's Favourite Poet
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