Kipling: The Jungle Book & Kim

Two famous books by Kipling which take place in India are Kim and The Jungle Books.

Kipling: The White Man’s Burden

The White Man’s Burden

Read the poem at the Kipling Society: The White Man’s Burden. It was published in 1899 in the February, 1899 issue of McClure’s Magazine.

Vocabulary for the poem: Quizlet has explanations for words in the poem and pronunciation.


In February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands.” In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations…The racialized notion of the “White Man’s burden” became a euphemism for imperialism, and many anti-imperialists couched their opposition in reaction to the phrase (From History Matters. The US survey course on the web).

How do you react to this poem? What does ‘the white man’s burden’ mean today?

Compare the story of Rikki.Tikki-Tavi with the poem The White Man’s Burden and think about how they make you feel? What images do these texts carry?

Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi


800px-MongooseCobraThe tale about the brave little Mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, is a delightful story but it will also give you a picture of what life was like for English colonials and their families in India. Rikki- Tikki-Tavi starts on page 175 in The Jungle Book.

Mongoose and Cobra. From Wikimedia Commons. Image in Public domain.

Mongoose Vs. Cobra from the Smithsonian Channel

“Mongooses and snakes are each other’s deadliest opponents. When they face off, the outcome is utterly unpredictable.”

Rudyard Kipling and Colonialism

To understand writers, such as Rudyard Kipling,  whose lives were formed and influenced by the British Empire they grew up and lived in it is helpful to have some background knowledge. Explore the links below to better understand the world depicted in stories like Rikki-Tikki Tavi och the poem The White Man’s Burden.

Historical Atlas of the British Empire

The Map as History: The British Empire, Trading Routes and Construction

The Story of India: Colonialization

The Story of India: British Attitudes Towards India


Rudyard Kipling

rudyard-kiplng-by-john-collier-1891-wikimedia-commons Rudyard Kipling, by John Collier 1881, From Wikimedia Commons. Image in Public domain.