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Kipling Letters Up for Sale
Here in Britain a collection of letters is going on sale which may shed new light on the private life of the author Rudyard Kipling. He’s best known for writing the Jungle Book, Kim and The Just So Stories. The private letters are from Kipling to his children’s governess.
Nearly 70 years after his death, the Bateman’s Estate in Sussex remains the shrine of Rudyard Kipling. One of the most influential writers of his day, Kipling was even asked to write speeches for the king. The public spokesman for the British Empire was also the head of a close knit family. It’s his letters to Mary Blaikie, the family governess, that are up for sale. The letters reveal how close Kipling was to his only son John. His life was torn apart by John’s death in the First World War.
Pippa Little, Mary Blaikie’s great niece: This is a rather sad letter because it was written in 1915 just before he died and he was desperate to be in the First World War and in fact when he applied to the army he didn’t get in. And Rudyard Kipling pulled strings and got him in and then very sadly, soon after this letter he was killed in action. And of course his father was absolutely devastated, as was my aunt.
Even after she left the family, Mary Blaikie remained a close friend of Kipling. The two corresponded for more than 20 years. Many of the letters were written here at his desk at Bateman’s. The huge interest they generated almost a century later is a sign of Kipling’s enduring appeal. Scholars are hoping they will reveal more about this intensely private man.
Michael Smith, The Kipling Society: Kipling wrote an autobiography in the last year of his life. It was called Something Of Myself. A lot of people think perhaps it ought to have been entitled Very Little of Myself or Hardly Anything of Myself because it doesn’t come over with some of the things we would most like to have known about his character. But these letters which have now come to light do put him in an extremely human way.
The Kipling Society would like to see the letters remain in Britain but bids are expected from around the world at today’s auction. Collectors will always be interested in anything that sheds light on this public figure whose private life remains such an enigma.
Risla Tee, BBC News
shed: vt. 放出，散发出（光，声音，香味等）
governess: n. 女家庭教师
shrine: n. 神殿，圣地
devastate: vt. 毁坏
correspond: vi. 通信
enduring: a. 持久的，不朽的