Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2014


This historical inquiry will focus on Rudyard Kipling's life, his works, and their relationship to British Imperialism. More specifically it will demonstrate how Kipling's attitude changed after World War One through his works. To understand Kipling and his place in the British Empire it is essential to understand the framework of imperialism at the time. Once an understanding of imperialism is formed it is possible to get to know Kipling and the world he grew into. The circumstances of Kipling's upbringing were undoubtably what drove him into his passion for empire, while his later experiences were what drove him to reconsider. Kipling was known as the staunch imperialist, and he certainly was, even his children's literature had undertones of empire, and an establishment of superiority over the rest of the world.

After World War One and the death of his son however there was a difference in attitude, not a reversal, but a change. A newfound distrust of government permeated his works. It is important not to judge a book by its cover or a man by his dogma. Everyone has a life filled with significant events and to understand a person one must take time to look at the persons past. The same can be said for imperialism, to judge the ideology from a modern perspective does not allow the entire truth to be told.