Rudyard Kipling - Poet of Empire

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
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'Four things greater than all things are -
Women, and horses, and power, and war...'
J R Kilplimg

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient to date.
Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.
Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century.
George Orwell called him a "prophet of British imperialism".
Kipling, however, is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled.
As the age of the European empires recedes, he is now, however, recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced, and there is an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts.
Kipling's works of fiction include 'The Jungle Book' (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including 'The Man Who Would Be King' (1888).
His poems include 'Mandalay' (1890), 'Gunga Din' (1890), 'The Gods of the Copybook Headings' (1919), 'The White Man's Burden' (1899), and 'If' (1910)
 He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature; exhibiting a versatile and luminous narrative gift.


 If you can keep your head when all about you 
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone, 
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on !’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 
    Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, 
    And - which is more - you’ll be a Man, my son !

                                                                                     Rudyard Kipling

Childhood (1865–1882)

Rudyard Kipling was born on 30 December 1865 in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, to Alice Kipling (née MacDonald) and John Lockwood Kipling.
Alice (one of four remarkable Victorian sisters) was a vivacious woman about whom Lord Dufferin would say, "Dullness and Mrs. Kipling cannot exist in the same room."

Alice Kipling
Lockwood Kipling, a sculptor and pottery designer, was the Principal and Professor of Architectural Sculpture at the newly founded Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Bombay.
John Lockwood and Alice had met in 1863 and courted at Rudyard Lake in Rudyard, Staffordshire, England.
Lockwood Kipling
Lockwood and Rudyard Kipling
John Lockwood Kipling, C.I.E.[1] (6 July 1837 – 26 January 1911) was an English art teacher, illustrator, and museum curator, who spent most of his career in British India. He was the father of the author Rudyard Kipling.
Kim's Gun
In 1875, Kipling was appointed the Principal of Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, British India, and also became curator of the old original Lahore Museum which figured as the 'Wonder House' or 'Ajaib Ghar' in 'Kim', not to be confused with the present one built later on after he had retired back to England in 1893. Kipling illustrated many of Rudyard Kipling's books, and other works, including Tales of the Punjab by Flora Annie Steel. He also worked on the decorations for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and friezes on the Crawford Market in Bombay. John Kipling designed the uniforms and decorations for the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi in 1877, organized by the Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton, at which Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
Durbar Room - Osborne House
During his tenure as the Principal of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore he patronised indigenous artisans and through training and apprenticeship transformed them into craftsmen and designers. One of his protégés was Bhai Ram Sing, who assisted him in his imperial commission for decorating the Durbar Room at Osborne House. Kipling also remained editor of the Journal of Indian Art and Industry, which carried drawings made by the students of the Mayo School.
He died in 1911, and is buried in the parish of Tisbury, Wiltshire.
Lockwood and Alice married, and moved to India in 1865.
They had been so moved by the beauty of the Rudyard Lake area that when their first child was born they referenced it when naming him.
Alice's sister Georgiana was married to painter Edward Burne-Jones, and her sister Agnes was married to painter Edward Poynter.
Kipling's most famous relative was his first cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who was Conservative Prime Minister of the UK three times in the 1920s and 1930s.
Kipling’s parents considered themselves Anglo-Indians (a term used in the 19th century for people of British origin living in India - and not as now, of people of mixed race) and so too would their son, though he spent the bulk of his life elsewhere
Complex issues of identity and national allegiance would become prominent features in his fiction.
Kipling referred to such conflicts; for example:
"In the afternoon heats before we took our sleep, she (the Portuguese ayah, or nanny) or Meeta (the Hindu bearer, or male attendant) would tell us stories and Indian nursery songs all unforgotten, and we were sent into the dining-room after we had been dressed, with the caution 'Speak English now to Papa and Mamma.' So one spoke 'English', haltingly translated out of the vernacular idiom that one thought and dreamed in".
Education in Britain

Rudyard Kipling as a Boy
Kipling's days of "strong light and darkness" in Bombay ended when he was five years old.
As was the custom in British India, he and his three-year-old sister Alice ("Trix") were taken to England - in their case to Southsea, Portsmouth - to live with a couple who boarded children of British nationals who were serving in India.
For the next six years, from October 1871 to April 1877, the two children lived with the couple, Captain Pryse Agar Holloway, once an officer in the merchant navy, and Mrs Sarah Holloway, at their house, Lorne Lodge at 4 Campbell Road, Southsea.
In his autobiography, published some 65 years later, Kipling recalled the stay with horror, and wondered ironically if the combination of cruelty and neglect which he experienced there at the hands of Mrs. Holloway might not have hastened the onset of his literary life: 
"If you cross-examine a child of seven or eight on his day’s doings (specially when he wants to go to sleep) he will contradict himself very satisfactorily. If each contradiction be set down as a lie and retailed at breakfast, life is not easy. I have known a certain amount of bullying, but this was calculated torture—religious as well as scientific. Yet it made me give attention to the lies I soon found it necessary to tell: and this, I presume, is the foundation of literary effort".
In January 1878, Kipling was admitted to the United Services College at Westward Ho!, Devon, a school founded a few years earlier to prepare boys for the British Army.
The school proved rough going for him at first, but later led to firm friendships, and provided the setting for his schoolboy stories 'Stalky & Co'. (1899).
During his time there, Kipling also met and fell in love with Florence Garrard, who was boarding with Trix at Southsea (to which Trix had returned).
Florence was to become the model for Maisie in Kipling's first novel, 'The Light that Failed' (1891).

Return to India

Near the end of his time at the school, it was decided that he lacked the academic ability to get into Oxford University on a scholarship, and his parents lacked the wherewithal to finance him (more to the point), so Lockwood obtained a job for his son in Lahore, Punjab (now in Pakistan), where he was Principal of the Mayo College of Art and Curator of the Lahore Museum (made famous in the opening chapter of 'Kim').
Kipling was to be assistant editor of a small local newspaper, the Civil & Military Gazette.

Masjid Wazir Khan - Lahore
He sailed for India on 20 September 1882 and arrived in Bombay on 18 October.
He described this moment years later:
"So, at sixteen years and nine months, but looking four or five years older, and adorned with real whiskers which the scandalised Mother abolished within one hour of beholding, I found myself at Bombay where I was born, moving among sights and smells that made me deliver in the vernacular sentences whose meaning I knew not. Other Indian-born boys have told me how the same thing happened to them."
This arrival changed Kipling, as he explains:
"There were yet three or four days’ rail to Lahore, where my people lived. After these, my English years fell away, nor ever, I think, came back in full strength".
He describes this time:
"My month’s leave at Simla (see below), or whatever Hill Station my people went to, was pure joy - every golden hour counted. It began in heat and discomfort, by rail and road. It ended in the cool evening, with a wood fire in one’s bedroom, and next morn - thirty more of them ahead ! - the early cup of tea, the Mother who brought it in, and the long talks of us all together again. One had leisure to work, too, at whatever play-work was in one’s head, and that was usually full."
Kipling's House in Lahore
Back in Lahore, some thirty-nine stories appeared in the Gazette between November 1886 and June 1887.
Kipling included most of these stories in beautifully entitled 'Plain Tales from the Hills' (see below for the meaning of this title), his first prose collection, which was published in Calcutta in January 1888, a month after his 22nd birthday.
Kipling's time in Lahore, however, had come to an end.
In November 1887, he was transferred to the Gazette's much larger sister newspaper, The Pioneer, in Allahabad in the United Provinces.
Kipling's writing continued at a frenetic pace; in 1888, he published six collections of short stories: 'Soldiers Three', 'The Story of the Gadsbys', 'In Black and White', 'Under the Deodars',  and the spooky 'The Phantom Rickshaw', containing a total of 41 stories, some quite long.
In addition, as The Pioneer's special correspondent in the western region of Rajputana, he wrote many sketches that were later collected in 'Letters of Marque' and published in 'From Sea to Sea' and 'Other Sketches, Letters of Travel'.
Kipling was discharged from The Pioneer in early 1889, after a dispute with the owners.
By this time, he had been increasingly thinking about the future.
He sold the rights to his six volumes of stories for £200 and a small royalty, and the 'Plain Tales' for £50; in addition, from The Pioneer, he received six-months' salary in lieu of notice.
Many of Kipling's stories are set in Simla, in the hill country - where he would spend the Summer months away from the heat of the plain - hence 'Plain Tales from the Hills'.
In 1863, the Viceroy of India John Lawrence decided to shift the summer capital of the British Raj to Simla. He took the trouble of moving the administration twice a year between Calcutta and this separate centre over 1,000 miles away, despite the fact that it was difficult to reach. Lord Lytton (Viceroy of India 1876–1880) made efforts to plan the town from 1876, when he first stayed in a rented house, but began plans for a Viceregal Lodge, later built on Observatory Hill. A fire cleared much of the area where the native Indian population lived (the "Upper Bazaar"), and the planning of the eastern end to become the centre of the European town forced these to live in the Middle and Lower Bazaars on the lower terraces descending the steep slopes from the Ridge. The Upper Bazaar was cleared for a Town Hall, with many facilities such as library and theatre, as well as offices - for police and military volunteers as well as municipal administration. During the "Hot Weather", Simla was also the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, India, the head of the Indian Army, and many Departments of the Government. The summer capital of the regional Government of the Punjab moved from Murree to Simla in 1876.
They were joined by many of the British wives and daughters of the men who remained on the plains. Together these formed Simla Society, which was as close as British India ever came to having an upper crust. This may have been helped by the fact that it was very expensive, having an ideal climate and thus being desirable, as well as having limited accommodation. British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved here each year to escape from the heat during summer in the Indo-Gangetic plain. British Shimla extended about a mile and a half along the ridge between Jakhoo Hill and Prospect Hill. The central spine was The Mall, which ran along the length of the ridge, with a Mall Extension southwards, closed to all carriages except those of the Viceroy and his wife. The presence of many bachelors and unattached men, as well as the many women passing the hot weather there, gave Shimla a reputation for adultery, and at least gossip about adultery: as Rudyard Kipling said in a letter cited by Allen, it had a reputation for "frivolity, gossip and intrigue".
 Return to London

He decided to use this money to make his way to London, the literary centre of the British Empire.
On 9 March 1889, Kipling left India, travelling first to San Francisco via Rangoon, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.
He then travelled through the United States, writing articles for The Pioneer that were later published in 'From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel'.
Starting his American travels in San Francisco, Kipling journeyed north to Portland, Oregon; to Seattle, Washington; up into Canada, to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia; back into the U.S. to Yellowstone National Park; down to Salt Lake City; then east to Omaha, Nebraska, and on to Chicago, Illinois; then to Beaver, Pennsylvania on the Ohio River to visit the Hill family; from there, he went to Chautauqua with Professor Hill, and later to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston.
In the course of this journey, he met Mark Twain in Elmira, New York, and was deeply impressed.
He then crossed the Atlantic, and reached Liverpool in October 1889.
He soon made his début in the London literary world - to great acclaim.
In London, Kipling had several stories accepted by magazines.
He also found a place to live for the next two years at Villiers street, near Charing cross (the building was subsequently named Kipling House):
"Meantime, I had found me quarters in Villiers Street, Strand, which forty-six years ago was primitive and passionate in its habits and population. My rooms were small, not over-clean or well-kept, but from my desk I could look out of my window through the fanlight of Gatti’s Music-Hall entrance, across the street, almost on to its stage. The Charing Cross trains rumbled through my dreams on one side, the boom of the Strand on the other, while, before my windows, Father Thames under the Shot Tower walked up and down with his traffic."
In the next two years, he published a novel, 'The Light that Failed', had a nervous breakdown, and met an American writer and publishing agent, Wolcott Balestier, with whom he collaborated on a novel, 'The Naulahka' (a title which he uncharacteristically misspelt).
In 1891, on the advice of his doctors, Kipling embarked on another sea voyage visiting South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and once again India.
He cut short his plans for spending Christmas with his  family in India when he heard of Balestier's sudden death from typhoid fever, and immediately decided to return to London.
Before his return, he had used the telegram to propose to and be accepted by Wolcott's sister Caroline Starr Balestier (1862–1939), called "Carrie", whom he had met a year earlier, and with whom he had apparently been having an intermittent romance.
Meanwhile, late in 1891, his collection of short stories about the British in India, 'Life's Handicap', was published in London.
On 18 January 1892, Carrie Balestier (aged 29) and Rudyard Kipling (aged 26) were married in London.
The wedding was held at All Souls Church, Langham Place. Henry James gave the bride away.

United States
The couple settled upon a honeymoon that would take them first to the United States (including a stop at the Balestier family estate near Brattleboro, Vermont) and then on to Japan.
When they arrived in Yokohama, Japan, they discovered that their bank, The New Oriental Banking Corporation, had failed.
Taking this loss in their stride, they returned to the U.S., back to Vermont - Carrie by this time was pregnant with their first child - and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for ten dollars a month.
According to Kipling,
"We furnished it with a simplicity that fore-ran the hire-purchase system. We bought, second or third hand, a huge, hot-air stove which we installed in the cellar. We cut generous holes in our thin floors for its eight-inch tin pipes (why we were not burned in our beds each week of the winter I never can understand) and we were extraordinarily and self-centredly content."
In this house, which they called 'Bliss Cottage', their first child, Josephine, was born "in three foot of snow on the night of 29 December 1892. Her Mother’s birthday being the 31st and mine the 30th of the same month, we congratulated her on her sense of the fitness of things ..."

It was also in this cottage that the first dawnings of the 'Jungle Books' came to Kipling:
" . . workroom in the Bliss Cottage was seven feet by eight, and from December to April the snow lay level with its window-sill. It chanced that I had written a tale about Indian Forestry work which included a boy who had been brought up by wolves. In the stillness, and suspense, of the winter of ’92 some memory of the Masonic Lions of my childhood’s magazine, and a phrase in Haggard’s Nada the Lily, combined with the echo of this tale. After blocking out the main idea in my head, the pen took charge, and I watched it begin to write stories about Mowgli and animals, which later grew into the two Jungle Books ".
With Josephine's arrival, Bliss Cottage was felt to be congested, so eventually the couple bought land - 10 acres (40,000 m2) on a rocky hillside overlooking the Connecticut River - from Carrie's brother Beatty Balestier, and built their own house.
Kipling named the house 'Naulakha', in honour of Wolcott and of their collaboration, and this time the name was spelled correctly.
From his early years in Lahore (1882–87), Kipling had become enamored with the Mughal architecture, especially the Naulakha pavilion situated in Lahore Fort, which eventually became an inspiration for the title of his novel as well as the house.
The house still stands on Kipling Road, three miles (5 km) north of Brattleboro in Dummerston, Vermont: a big, secluded, dark-green house, with shingled roof and sides, which Kipling called his "ship", and which brought him "sunshine and a mind at ease."
His seclusion in Vermont, combined with his healthy "sane clean life", made Kipling both inventive and prolific.
Gilt title of the 1890 first American edition of 'Departmental Ditties' and 'Barrack Room Ballads', which contained 'Mandalay' and 'Gunga Din'.
In the short span of four years, he produced, in addition to the Jungle Books, a collection of short stories ('The Day's Work'), a novel ('Captains Courageous'), and a profusion of poetry, including the volume 'The Seven Seas'.
The collection of 'Barrack-Room Ballad's was issued in March 1892, first published individually for the most part in 1890, and containing his poems 'Mandalay' and 'Gunga Din'.
He especially enjoyed writing the Jungle Books - both masterpieces of imaginative writing - and enjoyed, too, corresponding with the many children who wrote to him about them.
The writing life in 'Naulakha' was occasionally interrupted by visitors, including his father, who visited soon after his retirement in 1893, and British writer Arthur Conan Doyle, who brought his golf-clubs, stayed for two days, and gave Kipling an extended golf lesson.
Kipling seemed to take to golf, occasionally practising with the local Congregational minister, and even playing with red-painted balls when the ground was covered in snow.
However, wintertime golf was "not altogether a success because there were no limits to a drive; the ball might skid two miles down the long slope to Connecticut river."
From all accounts, Kipling loved the outdoors, not least of whose marvels in Vermont was the turning of the leaves each fall.
He described this moment in a letter:
"A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods."
The Kipling's first daughter Josephine, 1895. She died of pneumonia in 1899 aged 6.
In February 1896, Elsie Kipling was born, the couple's second daughter.
By this time, according to several biographers, their marital relationship was no longer light-hearted and spontaneous.
Although they would always remain loyal to each other, they seemed now to have fallen into set roles.
In a letter to a friend who had become engaged around this time, the 30 year old Kipling offered this sombre counsel: marriage principally taught "the tougher virtues - such as humility, restraint, order, and forethought."
The Kiplings loved life in Vermont and might have lived out their lives there, were it not for two incidents - one of global politics, the other of family discord - that hastily ended their time there.
By the early 1890s, the United Kingdom and Venezuela were in a border dispute involving British Guiana.
The U.S. had made several offers to arbitrate, but in 1895 the new American Secretary of State Richard Olney upped the ante by arguing for the American "right" to arbitrate on grounds of sovereignty on the continent (see the Olney interpretation as an extension of the 'Monroe Doctrine').
This raised hackles in the UK, and the situation grew into a major Anglo-American crisis, with talk of war on both sides.
Although the crisis led to greater U.S.-British cooperation, at the time Kipling was bewildered by what he felt was persistent anti-British sentiment in the U.S., especially in the press.
He wrote in a letter that it felt like being "aimed at with a decanter across a friendly dinner table."
By January 1896, he had decided to end his family's "good wholesome life" in the U.S., and seek their fortunes elsewhere.
A family dispute became the final straw.
For some time, relations between Carrie and her brother Beatty Balestier had been strained, owing to his drinking and insolvency.
In May 1896, an inebriated Beatty encountered Kipling on the street and threatened him with physical harm.
The incident led to Beatty's eventual arrest, but in the subsequent hearing, and the resulting publicity, Kipling's privacy was destroyed, and he was left feeling miserable and exhausted.
In July 1896, a week before the hearing was to resume, the Kiplings packed their belongings, left the United States, and returned to England.

'The Jungle Book'

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
'The Jungle Book' stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94. The original publications contain illustrations, some by Rudyard's father, John Lockwood Kipling. These stories were written when Kipling lived in Vermont (see above). There is evidence that it was written for his daughter Josephine, who died in 1899 aged six, after a rare first edition of the book with a poignant handwritten note by the author to his young daughter was discovered at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire in 2010.
The tales in the book (and also those in 'The Second Jungle Book' which followed in 1895, and which includes five further stories about Mowgli) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons. The verses of 'The Law of the Jungle', for example, lay down rules for the safety of individuals, families and communities. Kipling put in them nearly everything he knew or "heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle." The best-known of the stories are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned "man cub" Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. The most famous of the other four stories are probably "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", the story of a heroic mongoose, and "Toomai of the Elephants", the tale of a young elephant-handler. As with much of Kipling's work, each of the stories is preceded by a piece of verse, and succeeded by another. 
The Jungle Book, because of its moral tone, came to be used as a motivational book by the Cub Scouts, a junior element of the Scouting movement. This use of the book's universe was approved by Kipling after a direct petition of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, who had originally asked for the author's permission for the use of the 'Memory Game' from 'Kim' (see below) in his scheme to develop the morale and fitness of working-class youths in cities. 'Akela', the head wolf in 'The Jungle Book', has become a senior figure in the movement, the name being traditionally adopted by the leader of each Cub Scout pack.


The Kipling Family
By September 1896, the Kiplings were in Torquay, Devon, on the southwestern coast of England, in a hillside home overlooking the English Channel.
Although Kipling did not much care for his new house, whose design, he claimed, left its occupants feeling dispirited and gloomy, he managed to remain productive and socially active.
Kipling was now a famous man, and in the previous two or three years, had increasingly been making political pronouncements in his writings.
The Kiplings had welcomed their first son, John, in August 1897.
Kipling had begun work on two important poems, 'Recessional' (1897) and 'The White Man's Burden' (1899).
Many who read the poems saw irony in the warnings regarding the perils of empire.

Take up the White Man's burden -
Send forth the best ye breed -
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild -
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

 'The White Man's Burden'

There was also foreboding in the poems, a sense that all could yet come to naught.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

A prolific writer during his time in Torquay, he also wrote 'Stalky & Co.', a collection of school stories (born of his experience at the United Services College in Westward Ho!), whose juvenile protagonists displayed a know-it-all, cynical outlook on patriotism and authority.

 Visits to South Africa

In early 1898 the Kiplings travelled to South Africa for their winter holiday, thus beginning an annual tradition which (excepting the following year) was to last until 1908.
They always stayed in "The Woolsack", a house on Cecil Rhodes' estate at Groote Schuur - it was within walking distance of Rhodes' mansion.
With his new reputation as 'Poet of the Empire', Kipling was warmly received by some of the most influential politicians of the Cape Colony, including Rhodes, Sir Alfred Milner, and Leander Starr Jameson.
Kipling cultivated their friendship, and came to admire the men and their politics.
The period 1898–1910 was crucial in the history of South Africa and included the Second Boer War (1899–1902), the ensuing peace treaty, and the 1910 formation of the Union of South Africa.
Back in England, Kipling wrote poetry in support of the British cause in the Boer War and on his next visit to South Africa in early 1900, he became a correspondent for The Friend newspaper in Bloemfontein, which had been commandeered by Lord Roberts for British troops.
Although his journalistic stint was to last only two weeks, it was Kipling's first work on a newspaper staff since he left The Pioneer in Allahabad more than ten years earlier.
At The Friend he made lifelong friendships with Perceval Landon, H. A. Gwynne and others.
He also wrote articles published more widely expressing his views on the conflict.
Kipling penned an inscription for the Honoured Dead Memorial (Siege memorial) in Kimberley.
During this period Kipling travelled throughout South Africa, and told stories of these places through his poetry, such as the well known poem 'Lichtenberg', which relates the story of a combatant and his journey towards death in a foreign land.
Trooper Aberline’s sacrifice was to have an impact on the Boers and his legacy went far beyond his rusting cross in the Lichtenburg cemetery which lies close to that of Edith Mathews.


In 1897, Kipling moved from Torquay to Rottingdean, East Sussex; first to North End House and later to The Elms.
In 1902 Kipling bought 'Bateman's', a house built in 1634 and located in rural Burwash, East Sussex, England. Bateman's was Kipling's home from 1902 until his death in 1936.
The house, along with the surrounding buildings, the mill and 33 acres (130,000 m2) was purchased for £9,300.
It had no bathroom, no running water upstairs and no electricity, and even today is a very depressing spot, but Kipling loved it:
"Behold us, lawful owners of a grey stone lichened house—A.D. 1634 over the door—beamed, panelled, with old oak staircase, and all untouched and unfaked. It is a good and peaceable place. We have loved it ever since our first sight of it."
(from a November 1902 letter).
In the non-fiction realm he became involved in the debate over the British response to the rise in German naval power known as the 'Tirpitz Plan' to build a fleet to challenge the Royal Navy, publishing a series of articles in 1898 which were collected as 'A Fleet in Being'.
On a visit to the United States in 1899, Kipling and Josephine developed pneumonia, from which she eventually died.
In the wake of his daughter's death, Kipling concentrated on collecting material for what would become 'Just So Stories'.
That work was published in 1902, the year after what is probably Kipling's most famous book, 'Kim', was first issued.
'Kim' - open images in new tab to view full size
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
'Kim' was first published serially in McClure's Magazine from December 1900 to October 1901 as well as in Cassell's Magazine from January to November 1901, and first published in book form by Macmillan & Co. Ltd in October 1901. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the so-called 'The Great Game', the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. It is set after the Second Afghan War which ended in 1881, but before the Third, probably in the period 1893 to 1898.
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
The novel is notable for its highly detailed portrait of the people, culture, and varied religions of India.
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
The book presents a vivid picture of India, its teeming populations, religions, and superstitions, and the life of the bazaars and the road. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Kim No. 78 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003 the book was listed on the BBC's
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
'The Big Read' poll of the UK's "best-loved novel." Considered by many to be Kipling's masterpiece, opinion appears varied about its consideration as children's literature or not. Kim is in some ways an apotheosis of the Victorian 'cult of childhood', as epitomized in Barrie's 'Pete Pan', but it shines now as bright as ever, long after the collapse of the Indian Raj. Kim is a book that works at three levels. It is a tale of high adventure. It is also the drama of a boy having entirely his boy's own way, and coming of age - and it is the mystical exegesis of Indian life. Kim will endure because it is, like all masterly endings - a true beginning.
The first decade of the 20th century saw Kipling at the height of his popularity.
In 1906 he wrote the song 'Land of our Birth, We Pledge to Thee'.
Kipling wrote two science fiction short stories, 'With the Night Mail' (1905) and 'As Easy As A. B. C' (1912), both set in the 21st century in Kipling's Aerial Board of Control universe.
These read like modern hard science fiction, and introduced the literary technique known as indirect exposition, which would later become one of Heinlein's trademarks.
In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The prize citation said:
"In consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."
Nobel prizes had been established in 1901, and Kipling was the first English-language recipient.
At the award ceremony in Stockholm on 10 December 1907, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Carl David af Wirsén, praised both Kipling and three centuries of English literature:
After recieving this award Kipling had published two connected poetry and story collections: 'Puck of Pook's Hill' (1906), and 'Rewards and Fairies' (1910).
The latter contained the poem 'If'.
This exhortation to self-control and stoicism is arguably Kipling's most famous poem.
Many have wondered why he was never made Poet Laureate.
Some claim that he was offered the post during the interregnum of 1892–96 and turned it down.

 First World War (1914–18)

At the beginning of World War I, like many other writers, Kipling wrote pamphlets and poems which enthusiastically supported the UK's war aims of restoring Belgium after that kingdom had been occupied by Germany together with more generalised statements that Britain was standing up for the cause of good.
In September 1914, Kipling was asked by the British government to write propaganda, an offer that he immediately accepted.
Kipling's pamphlets and stories were very popular with the British people during the war with his major themes being glorifying the British military as the place for heroic men to be, German atrocities against Belgian civilians and the stories of women being brutalized by a horrific war unleashed by Germany, yet surviving and triumphing in spite of their suffering.
Kipling was enraged by reports of the so-called, (and largely fictitious) 'Rape of Belgium' together with the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, which he saw as a deeply inhumane act, which led him to see the war as a 'crusade' for English civilization against Germanic (Hun) 'barbarism'.
In a 1915 speech Kipling declared that
"There was no crime, no cruelty, no abomination that the mind of men can conceive of which the German has not perpetrated, is not perpetrating, and will not perpetrate if he is allowed to go on...Today, there are only two divisions in the world...human beings and Germans."
Alongside his passionate antipathy towards Germany, Kipling was privately deeply critical of how the war was fought by the British Army as opposed to the war itself, which he ardently supported, complaining as early as October 1914 that Germany should have been defeated by now, and something must be wrong with the British Army.
Kipling, who was shocked by the heavy losses that the BEF had taken by the autumn of 1914 blamed the entire pre-war generation of British politicians, who he argued had failed to learn the lessons of the Boer War and as a result, thousands of British soldiers were now paying with their lives for their failure in the fields of France and Belgium.
Kipling had scorn for those men who shirked duty in the First World War.
In 'The New Army in Training', Kipling concluded the piece by saying:
This much we can realise, even though we are so close to it, the old safe instinct saves us from triumph and exultation. But what will be the position in years to come of the young man who has deliberately elected to outcaste himself from this all-embracing brotherhood? What of his family, and, above all, what of his descendants, when the books have been closed and the last balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, province, and Dominion throughout the Empire?

John Kipling
Kipling actively and thoughtlessly encouraged his young son to go to war.
Kipling's son John died in the First World War, at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, at age 18.
John had initially wanted to join the Royal Navy, but having had his application turned down after a failed medical examination due to poor eyesight, he opted to apply for military service as an Army officer.

Lord Roberts
But again, his eyesight was an issue during the medical examination.
In fact, he tried twice to enlist, but was rejected.
His father had been lifelong friends with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army, and colonel of the Irish Guards, and at Rudyard's request, and quite wrongly, John was accepted into the Irish Guards.
He was sent to Loos two days into the battle in a reinforcement contingent.
He was last seen stumbling through the mud blindly, screaming in agony after an exploding shell had ripped his face apart.
A body identified as his was not found until 1992, although that identification has been challenged.
After his son's death, Kipling wrote,
"If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied."
 It is speculated that these words may reveal his feelings of guilt at his role in getting John a commission in the Irish Guards.

John Kipling
Kipling was said to help assuage his grief over the death of his son through reading the novels of Jane Austen aloud to his wife and daughter.
During the war, he wrote a booklet 'The Fringes of the Fleet', containing essays and poems on various nautical subjects of the war.
Some of the poems were set to music by English composer Edward Elgar.
Kipling became friends with a French soldier whose life had been saved in the First World War when his copy of 'Kim', which he had in his left breast pocket, stopped a bullet.
The soldier presented Kipling with the book (with bullet still embedded) and his Croix de Guerre as a token of gratitude.

After the war (1918–1936)

Partly in response to John's death, Kipling joined Sir Fabian Ware's Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), the group responsible for the garden-like British war graves that can be found to this day dotted along the former Western Front and all the other locations around the world where troops of the British Empire lie buried.
His most significant contribution to the project was his selection of the biblical phrase "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" (Ecclesiasticus 44.14, KJV) found on the Stones of Remembrance in larger war cemeteries and his suggestion of the phrase "Known unto God" for the gravestones of unidentified servicemen.

Cenotaph - London
He chose the inscription "The Glorious Dead" on the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London.
He also wrote a two-volume history of the Irish Guards, his son's regiment, that was published in 1923 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of regimental history.
Kipling's moving short story, 'The Gardener', depicts visits to the war cemeteries, and the poem 'The King's Pilgrimage' (1922) depicts a journey which King George V made, touring the cemeteries and memorials under construction by the Imperial War Graves Commission.
With the increasing popularity of the automobile, Kipling became a motoring correspondent for the British press, and wrote enthusiastically of his trips around England and abroad, even though he was usually driven by a chauffeur.
After the war, Kipling was skeptical about the Fourteen Points and the League of Nations, but he had great hopes that the United States would abandon isolationism and that the post-war world would be dominated by an Anglo-French-American alliance.
Kipling hoped that the United States would take on a League of Nations mandate for Armenia as the best way of preventing isolationism, and hoped that Theodore Roosevelt, whom Kipling admired, would once again become president.
Kipling was saddened by Roosevelt's death in 1919, believing that his friend was the only American politician capable of keeping the United States in the "game" of world politics.
In 1920 Kipling co-founded the Liberty League with Haggard and Lord Sydenham.
This short-lived enterprise focused on promoting classic liberal ideals as a response to the rising power of Communist tendencies within Great Britain, or, as Kipling put it, "to combat the advance of Bolshevism".
In 1922 Kipling, who had made reference to the work of engineers in some of his poems, such as 'The Sons of Martha', 'Sappers', and 'McAndrew's Hymn', and in other writings such as short story anthologies, for instance 'The Day's Work', was asked by University of Toronto civil engineering professor Herbert E. T. Haultain for his assistance in developing a dignified obligation and ceremony for graduating engineering students.
Kipling was enthusiastic in his response and shortly produced both, formally entitled 'The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer'.
Today, engineering graduates all across Canada are presented with an iron ring at the ceremony as a reminder of their obligation to society.
In 1922 Kipling also became Lord Rector of St Andrews University in Scotland, a three-year position. Kipling, who was a francophile, argued very strongly for an Anglo-French alliance to uphold the peace, calling Britain and France in 1920 the "twin fortresses of European civilization".
Along the same lines, Kipling repeatedly warned against revising the Treaty of Versailles in Germany's favor, which he predicated would lead to a new world war.
In 1924, Kipling was opposed to the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald as "Bolshevism without bullets", but believing that Labour was a Communist front organisation he took the view that "excited orders and instructions from Moscow" would expose Labour as such an organisation to the British people.
Kipling's views were on the right and he admired Benito Mussolini to a certain extent for a time in the 1920s,
In 1934 he published a short story in Strand Magazine, 'Proofs of Holy Writ', which postulated that William Shakespeare had helped to polish the prose of the King James Bible.
Kipling kept writing until the early 1930s, but at a slower pace and with much less success than before.
On the night of 12 January 1936, Kipling suffered a haemorrhage in his small intestine.
He underwent surgery, but died less than a week later on 18 January 1936 at the age of 70 of a perforated duodenal ulcer.
The pallbearers at the funeral included Kipling's cousin, the UK Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and the marble casket was covered by a Union flag.
Kipling was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, northwest London, and his ashes were buried in Poets' Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, next to the graves of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.
In 2010 the International Astronomical Union approved that a crater on the planet Mercury would be named after Kipling - one of ten newly discovered impact craters observed by the 'MESSENGER' spacecraft in 2008–9.
More than 50 unpublished poems by Kipling were released for the first time in March 2013.

 Kipling - an Assessment

To assess Kipling we must first come back to Kipling's ubdoubted masterpiece, 'Kim'.
The boy Kim was, like his creator, 'Anglo-Indian'.
That term, of course, is now used for what were then called 'Eurasians' – persons of mixed blood, part Indian and part European.
In Kipling's day 'Anglo Indian' meant an English person born in India.
But the ever resourceful Kim was almost 'Eurasian'.
With the judicious use of native dye, and a Hindu loincloth, Kim could easily pass himself off a a Hindu boy, with language, accent and use of the vernacular indistinguishable from that of a genuine native.
Now Kim was undoubtedly the boy that Kipling wanted to be, and to have been.
Attractive, fit and athletic, - a boy who could charm the birds right off the trees - and the girls.
Tall for his age, and not clumsy and half blind like Kipling, Kim was a 'boy's boy'.
Kim was the 'Friend of all the World' – whereas Kipling, particularly as he grew older, always seemed to be akways making enemies.
But Kim and Kipling did have one important trait in common – neither of them knew where they really belonged, and if Kim were real, and actually grew up (in this respect – and in some others, he is like Barrie's Peter Pan), he would have probably felt a stranger in almost any place he found himself, just like Kipling.
Bombay and Lahore were their cities, the vast Indian sub-continent was thier land, and their time was their youth.
And both the 'real' Kipling, and the superbly imagined Kim lived in a strange 'shadow land' of mystery and romance, half England of the sahibs, and India of the numerous races that comprised the many subjects of the Raj.
In many ways Kipling was a very nasty little man, and got worse as he got older.
But of course there is no law that says that a 'genius' should be 'nice'.
It is clear, however, that the further he strayed from his 'art', the 'nastier', he got.
His views on politics, economics, social policy and geopolitics were ill conceived, and in most cases born of ignorance and prejudice.
Having become, by the standards of his day, a 'superstar', he eventually came to believe that there was no subject about which he could not pontificate, (which is amusing as one of his obsessions was anti-Catholicism).
Despite his colossal wealth, he was, in a strange way unique to himself, intensely anti-Semitic – not after the manner of the Völkish groups to be found on the continent, but in an oddly Anglo-Indian manner.

But let Kipling have the last word.......

'The Gods of the Copybook Headings'

    As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return !  

                                                                                                  Rudyard Kipling

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Michael Ventris - a Strangely English Genius

Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested language form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries.The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Bronze Age Collapse. It is also the only one of the three "Linears" (the third being Linear C, aka Cypro-Minoan 1) to be deciphered, in this case by the strangely English genius - the self-taught linguist, Michael Ventris.
Michael George Francis Ventris, OBE (12 July 1922 – 6 September 1956) was an English linguist and architect who, along with John Chadwick and Alice Kober, deciphered Linear B, a previously unknown ancient script discovered at Knossos by Arthur Evans.
A prodigy in languages, Ventris had pursued the decipherment as an avocation since his teen-age years.
After creating a new field of study, Ventris died in a mysterious automobile accident a few weeks before publication of his first definitive work, 'Documents in Mycenaean Greek'.


Ventris was born into a traditional army family then coming to an end.
His father, Edward Francis Vereker Ventris, reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army; he might have gone further had he not contracted tuberculosis and retired. His grandfather, Francis Ventris, was a Major-General who ended his career as Commander of British Forces in China.
Both men served in the Middle and Far East, the younger especially in India. During one of his stays in England, Michael's future father married Anna Dorothea Janasz (Dora), the daughter of a wealthy immigrant landholder from Poland.
Her photographs reveal a slender, dark-haired beauty.
They had one child, Michael. Health was an important family consideration right from the beginning of Michael's life.
He had chronic bronchial asthma. The family resided mainly in Switzerland for eight years, which they could well afford to do.
Switzerland had a reputation for being especially healthy.
A number of health centers, or spas, catered to the physical well-being of those who could afford to attend.
Ventris started school in Gstaad, where classes were taught only in French and German. He was soon reasonably fluent in both languages, learning also the dialect of German spoken in Switzerland.
He had the facility of learning a language within a matter of weeks, which led ultimately to his acquisition of roughly a dozen languages.
His mother must have spoken Polish, as he learned that as well, all before the age of eight.
At that age he was reading Adolf Erman's Die Hieroglyphen in German.
In 1931 the Ventrises came home.
His father's physical condition was visibly worsening year by year.
From 1931 to 1935 Michael attended Bickley Hill School in Stowe.
His parents, unable to live together since 1932, divorced in 1935, when he was 13.

Stowe School
Then he won a scholarship to Stowe School, quartered in an 18th-century stately home.
At Stowe he learned some Latin and classical Greek.
He did not do outstanding work there.
By then he was spending most of his spare time learning as much as he could about Linear B, some of his study time being spent under the covers at night with a flash-light.

Stowe School
When he was not away at school, Michael lived with his mother, before 1935 in coastal hotels, after 1935 (when they were built) in the avant garde Berthold Lubetkin's Highpoint modernist apartments in Highgate.
His mother's acquaintances, who frequented the house, included many sculptors, painters and writers of the day.
The money for her sophisticated life style came from the Polish estates.
Young Adult Michael's father died in 1938 when Michael was 16 years old.
Dora became administrator of the estate.
Hard times, however, lay ahead.
After the German invasion of Poland in 1939 the family holdings in that country were gone, and all income from there ceased.
In 1940 Dora's father died.
The family became practically destitute.
Michael lost his mother to clinical depression and an overdose of barbiturates.
He never spoke of her, assuming instead an ebullient and energetic manner in whatever he decided to do, a trait which won him numerous friends.
At the same time they noted that he had a dark and mysterious side as well, associated with feelings that he was a fraud, and not a true genius.

Naum Gabo
A friend of the family, Russian sculptor Naum Gabo, took Michael under his wing.
Michael later said that Gabo was the most family he had ever had.
It may have been at Gabo's house that he began the study of Russian.
He had resolved on architecture for a career.
He enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
There he met and married Lois, who preferred to be called Betty.
Her social background was similar to what Ventris's had been: her family was well-to-do, she had travelled in Europe, and she was interested in architecture, in addition to which she was popular and was considered very beautiful.
He did not complete his architecture studies, being conscripted in 1942.

Handley Page Halifax
He chose the Royal Air Force (RAF). His preference was for navigator rather than pilot, and he completed the extensive training in the UK and Canada, to qualify early in 1944 and be commissioned.
While training, he studied Russian intensively for several weeks, the purpose of which, if any, is not clear.
He took part in the bombing of Germany, as aircrew on the Handley Page Halifax with No. 76 Squadron RAF, initially at RAF Breighton and then at RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor.
After the conclusion of the war he served out the rest of his term on the ground in Germany, for which he was chosen because of his knowledge of Russian.
His duties are unclear.
His friends all assumed he was completing intelligence assignments, interpreting his denials as part of a legal gag.


After the war he worked briefly in Sweden, learning enough Swedish to communicate with scholars in it.
Then he came home to complete his architectural education with honors in 1948 and settled down with Lois working as an architect.
He designed schools for the Ministry of Education.
Then he and his wife designed a home for themselves and their family.
He had two children, a son, Nikki (1942–1984) and a daughter, Tessa (1946–). Concurrently he stepped up his effort on Linear B, discovering finally that it was Greek, a revelation to an academic public that had more or less given up on the mysterious script.
No one, not even Ventris, suspected that it is the earliest known form of Greek.
Ventris was awarded an OBE in 1955 for "services to Mycenaean paleography."

Michael Ventris
The upshot of this triumph turned into tragedy for Ventris.
He was still in his early 30,s and the world was at his feet: but which way should he go ?
The academic world did not entice such a free spirit, so he returned to architecture.
But at the end of six months, he was becoming disenchanted.
On 5 September 1956, he left his new house in Hampstead late at night and driving fast down the Barnet bypass, crashed into the back of a stationary lorry and was killed instantly: he was only 34.
The suspicion remains that if it was not exactly suicide, it was something close to it.
Should one recall perhaps that another frustrated classicist, Lawrence of Arabia, was also killed on his motorbike ?
And, of course, both men were deeply emeshed in the shadowy world of British Intelliigence.
Perhaps Ventris knew too much, or could not be trusted ?


Evan's Reconstruction of Knossos
Arthur Evans
At the beginning of the 20th century, archaeologist Arthur Evans began excavating Knossos, an ancient city on the island of Crete.
In doing so he uncovered a great many clay tablets inscribed with an unknown script. Some were older and were named Linear A.
The bulk were of more recent vintage, and were dubbed Linear B. Evans spent the next several decades trying to decipher both, to no avail.
In 1936, Evans hosted an exhibition of Cretan archaeology at Burlington House in London, home of the Royal Academy.
It was the jubilee anniversary (50 years) of the British School of Archaeology in Athens, contemporaneous owners and managers of the Knossos site.
Linear B
Evans had given the site to them some years previously. Villa Ariadne, Evans's home there, was now part of the school.
Boys from Stowe school were in attendance at one lecture and tour conducted by Evans himself at age 85. Ventris, 14 years old, was present and remembered Evans walking with a stick.
The stick was undoubtedly the cane named Prodger which Evans carried all his life to assist him with his short-sightedness and night blindness.
Evans held up tablets of the unknown scripts for the audience to see.
During the interview period following the lecture, Ventris immediately confirmed that Linear B was as yet undeciphered, and determined to decipher it.
Ventris's initial theory was that Etruscan and Linear B were related and that this might provide a key to decipherment.
Although this proved incorrect, it was a link he continued to explore until the early 1950s.

Reconstruction of the Interior of the Palace at Knossos
Shortly after Evans died, Alice Kober noted that certain words in Linear B inscriptions had changing word endings - perhaps declensions in the manner of Latin or Greek.
Using this clue, Ventris constructed a series of grids associating the symbols on the tablets with consonants and vowels.
While which consonants and vowels these were remained mysterious, Ventris learned enough about the structure of the underlying language to begin guessing.
Some Linear B tablets had been discovered on the Greek mainland, and there was reason to believe that some of the chains of symbols he had encountered on the Cretan tablets were names.
Noting that certain names appeared only in the Cretan texts, Ventris made the inspired guess that those names applied to cities on the island.
This proved to be correct.
Armed with the symbols he could decipher from this, Ventris soon unlocked much text and determined that the underlying language of Linear B was in fact Greek.

Reconstruction of the Palace at Knossos
This overturned Evans's theories of Minoan history by establishing that Cretan civilization, at least in the later periods associated with the Linear B tablets, had been part of Mycenean Greece.
Linear B itself is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested language form of Greek.
The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries.
The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC.
It is descended from the older Linear A, a still undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek.
Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Bronze Age Collapse.
The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing.
It is also the only one of the three "Linears" (the third being Linear C, aka Cypro-Minoan 1) to be deciphered. Linear B consists of around 87 syllabic signs and over 100 ideographic signs.
These ideograms or "signifying" signs symbolize objects or commodities.
They have no phonetic value, and are never used as word signs in writing a sentence.
The application of Linear B appears to have been confined to administrative contexts.
In all the thousands of clay tablets, a relatively small number of different "hands" have been detected: 45 in Pylos (west coast of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece) and 66 in Knossos (Crete).
From this fact, it could be thought that the script was used by only a guild of professional scribes who served the central palaces.
Once the palaces were destroyed, the script disappeared.

It is hard to underestimate the importance of the discovery that Linear B was Greek. Hitherto the general assumption had been that the Greeks had invaded Greece in the Dark Ages in a series of invasions, first the Dorians, followed by the Ionians, bringing with them the different dialects of Greek.
Suddenly this was all wrong. The Greeks were already in Greece, and Greek becomes the world’s prime example of a long lived language. There was also the further implication that Minoan Linear B was not essentially Minoan at all but Mycenaean, and represented a Mycenaean takeover of the Minoan palaces in their final stages and that Minoan Linear A, which is still undeciphered but is generally considered to be non-Greek, represents the original Minoan language.