The ashes of Rudyard Kipling, poet and writer, were buried in Poets’ Corner at noon on 23 January 1936, next to the graves of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. The inscription on the stone reads:
RUDYARD KIPLING. BORN 30th DEC. 1865 DIED 18th JAN. 1936.
The original gravestone (now at Kipling’s house in Sussex) was replaced by the present Belgian marble stone in 1966. The pallbearers at the funeral included Kipling’s cousin the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the marble casket was covered by a Union flag.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, son of Professor John Kipling and his wife Alice (Macdonald). His parents came to England on leave but did not take Rudyard and his sister Alice back with them and they were left in the charge of paid guardians. After attending the United Services College he did not attend university due to lack of means and he went to India to work as a journalist. His books Plain Tales from the Hills, Soldiers Three and Wee Willie Winkie were a success and he returned to England in 1889. The Jungle Book, Kim and many other works followed. His poems Mandalay, A Smuggler’s Song and If are still well known. In 1892 he married American Caroline Balestier and they lived in the USA for several years. Their son John was killed in the war in 1915 and daughter Josephine died young. Their other daughter Elsie married George Bambridge. In 1907 Kipling was the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature but he declined many other honours. He was one of the first members of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission and advised on the inscriptions for the headstones in British war cemeteries. He died on 18 January 1936 after an operation for a perforated ulcer.
A photo of the gravestone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.
Kipling’s home, Batemans, at Burwash in Sussex is open to the public www.nationaltrust.org.uk