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Rare Book of the Month: From the Snows of Vermont Comes the “Jungle Book”

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(The following is a guest blog post written by Elizabeth Gettins, Library of Congress digital library specialist.)

The Cold Lairs, "The Jungle Book," pg. 66. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
The Cold Lairs, “The Jungle Book,” pg. 66. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

When you think of the “Jungle Book,” what comes to mind first? For some, it is the classic 1967 Walt Disney movie; for others, the new 2016 Disney release.

However, for many bibliophiles, there is no substitute for the classic children’s book by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). First published in 1894, the work started out as a collection of stories that were previously published in magazines. Following in the footsteps of Aesop’s Fables, the stories use animals to give life lessons.

Kipling was born in Bombay, India, to English parents and while he moved back and forth from India to England a number of times, he always felt his strongest connection to India. It is the location written about in many of his works.

Ironically, this beloved children’s book written by an Englishman and set in the heat of an Indian jungle was actually penned in the snows of Vermont. This unlikely New England connection was the result of Kipling’s marriage to his American wife, Caroline Balestier (1862-1939).

Shere Khan in Jungle, "The Jungle Book," pg. 108, 109. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
Shere Khan in Jungle, “The Jungle Book,” pg. 108, 109. Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

On a visit to America to spend time with his in-laws, Kipling discovered the quiet beauty of Vermont. Enchanted, he uprooted himself and his wife and moved in 1892 into a small cottage that he named Bliss Cottage, just outside of Brattleboro. That winter, the “Jungle Book” was started. Through the drifts and high snows, Kipling found the inspiration and solitude needed to write his tale. The next year, Kipling had his landmark home, Naulakha, built in Dummerston, Vermont. Designed in the American Shingle Style, the house was named after Naulakha Pavilion in Pakistan. The Kipling’s moved back to England in 1896, but the building still stands and has since been designated a National Historic Landmark that visitors can rent for overnight stays.

The illustrations for the Library’s particular copy of the “Jungle Book” were published in 1908 by Macmillan Company and were created by twins Edward Julius (1883-1957) and Charles Maurice Detmold (1883-1908). The Detmold’s came from an artistic family and showed great talent early on. Extended family shouldered the costs of the twins’ artistic training, and the results can be appreciated by paging through the vivid and dream-like images. This work was a gift from Armida Maria-Theresa and Harris Dunscombe Colt and joins a sizable collection of Kiplingiana in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The collection is comprised of a large number of early editions, manuscripts, photographs, realia and a great deal of supporting secondary materials which chronicle Kipling’s life and works.

Comments (5)

  1. Naulakha is open to visitors when it is not occupied by lodgers. It is a fascinating place, nicely preserved/restored. You can sit at the desk where Kipling is said to have worked on the Jungle Book and other publications.

  2. Thank you for the information. Wonderful to know!

  3. Very Interesting!

  4. I stayed in Naulakha as part of a week-long wedding party, even publishing a book from there, and it is a delightful home in and outside, exploiting the slope of the hillside perfectly. It’s a English take on an Indian bungalow using Local American materials, with verandas and an indoor/outdoor room that can be opened and closed with a massive counterbalanced glass window. Kipling designed it with help from a New York architect.

    Anyone interested in Kipling will enjoy it immensely so I’m not giving all the stories away, but it was a particular please to sit on the stone bench high behind the house where Kipling and Conan Doyle sat.

    Do your own research before you go!

  5. Omg.,Nice,

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