Rudyard Kipling in New England

Rudyard Kipling in New England

Rudyard Kipling in New England

Rudyard Kipling in New England

Excerpt

The death of Rudyard Kipling has led people to review the details of his astonishing career. Universal renown came to him so early that younger readers of to-day look on him as belonging to a remote generation of "classics." They may have been surprised to learn that he was only seventy at the time of his death. Others have wondered at the fact that the poet of British imperialism and the story-teller of British India married an American wife and once lived in the United States. That The Jungle Books were written among the hills of Vermont has seemed not only paradoxical but incredible.

The tradition of visiting English authors and commentators is so well established now that Kipling's visit would call for no more than passing mention if he had come over as a writer in search of material or a lecturer looking for audiences. The facts are quite otherwise: he built his first home in New England, and there he wrote some of his bestknown books. Although the circumstances of Kipling's residence in America, as well as "incidents" caused by certain of his remarks, have been recalled recently, few people know, or have cared to inquire how it was that Kipling happened to settle in New England -- what he thought of it, and what New England thought of him.

To understand Kipling's reasons for coming to live in the United States it is necessary to recall the figure of a now-forgotten American writer, Wolcott Balestier, who was born in Rochester, New York, in 1861, but spent much of his childhood in the home of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph NerU+00U9e Balestier, near Brattleboro, Vermont. As the name of the family indicates, the Balestiers were not of native stock. Joseph had come to the United States as a child from Martinique in the West Indies. After an active business career in Chicago he retired to a country home which he built near Brattleboro. He had first become acquainted with this region through a visit to the once fashionable Wesselhoeft water-cure. His grandson, Wolcott, begar his career as a writer in New York. He was for a time employed in the Astor Library, wrote a life of Blaine for the presidential campaign of 1884, and soon published several novels -- among them Victorious Defeat and Benefits Forgot. In 1888, young Balestier was sent to London as representative and agent for John W. Lovell, a New York publisher. With a flair for business and a gift for making friends, Balestier very soon had a wide acquaintance among English writers and publishers.

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