Commemorative drawings created by Rudyard Kipling jungle book But it has never been used and will be published for the first time.
Mowgli, an Indian boy raised by wolves, and his teacher Bagheera, a black panther, are among the drawings the author drew to help him shape the jungle characters that were meant to enchant generations of readers.
Conserved in the British Library, it is part of a collection bequeathed by Caroline, Kipling’s widow to the nation in 1940.
The British Library has now teamed up with SP Books, an independent publishing house, on a major project in which Kipling’s original handwritten manuscript will be reproduced in book form for the first time.
The manuscript, dated between 1892 and 1895, contains both stories jungle book And The second jungle book, although not arranged in the same order as the published versions.
About 173 sheets of Kipling’s elegant calligraphy, and about a dozen drawings in black ink, provide insight into his creative process. The drawings have not been published because they are incomplete, and are primarily work in progress.
Laura Walker, Archivist and Modern Manuscripts at the British Library, told Foreman: “He was crafting the characters in his mind. The drawings helped his visual image.”
She said, “There is an incomplete drawing of Mowgli and Bagheera, laterally on one page. They are all on the back of the manuscript pages. So it looks like he was working on them while he was working on the script – part of his creative process of identifying the characters. There is one with Shere Khan.” [the Bengal tiger and Mowgli’s enemy], with a herd of buffalo running towards him.”
She added, “Some seem to be drawing to get ideas of what the different characters or places look like. Above Bagheera, there could be a Baloo chart [the bear]. Mowgli is closer to how we see him from various illustrations and adaptations over time – a long-haired little boy. It’s a basic line drawing. It gives you the essence of character.”
The manuscript contains slight differences from the final print edition, including some titles: ‘Her Majesty’s Servants’ was originally ‘The Queen’s Maids’, while ‘Red Dog’ was ‘Little People of the Rocks’.
His dashed words, captions, and notes reflect Kipling’s accuracy. The story “Toomai of the Elephants” contains the largest number of red pencil corrections. There are also handwritten instructions for layout or printing.
Kipling, winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Bombay, during the period of British rule. He spent his childhood in India and longed to return during his school days in England. He did so in 1882, working as a journalist.
But his reputation was damaged, with English Heritage, for example, stating that he “believed in British superiority over the peoples of colonial nations.”
The British Library’s website notes: “After the First World War … the tide of history relentlessly swept Kipling’s colonial vision. The values he celebrates in his writing for adults soon seemed out of step with the times. Political critics considered him old-fashioned at best, and despised at worst.”
The new edition, to be published on November 25, will also feature vibrant color illustrations by French artist Maurice de Becky.