The Jungle Books, the most popular of Kipling's prose works, were written in the eighteen-nineties, the second phase of his literary career. Rudyard Kipling ( 1865- 1936) was a young English journalist who had enjoyed a spectacular success as fiction-writer and poet, first in India and then in London, in the previous decade. Now began what literary historians have called his American period. It was a happy time in his life, when, fresh from his Indian and British triumphs, he seemed to be on the verge of making a settled home in the United States with his American wife. Ahead still lay the much publicized vendetta with his eccentric brother-in-law Beatty Balestier, the flight from the United States in dismay and anger, the near-fatal illness, the death of his young daughter Josephine (the much loved 'Taffimai'), the embitterment over the South African War which embroiled Kipling in a mutually hostile relationship with the English liberal intelligentsia that to this day has never quite been resolved. All this was to make the last years of the century the worst period of his literary life. But none of it is foreshadowed in The Jungle Books, which still retain traces of that idyllic atmosphere of the early nineties that was never to return to Kipling's work.
The Jungle Books ( 1894-5), like two other great English books, Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland ( 1865) and Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows ( 1908), can be regarded as stories told by an adult to children. Kipling's younger daughter Elsie (Mrs George Bambridge) described to Dr A. W. Yeats in 1955 how Kipling recited the tales to the children with the lights out in a semi-dark room, and 'the cold narratives of The Jungle Books and Just So Stories in book form left so much to be desired that she could not bear to read them or hear them read'. (See an article by D. H. Stewart in The Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 15, no. 1, Winter 1985). But a