There is probably no writer more closely associated with the Great War than Kipling.
Prolific throughout his career his output saw no diminution during the 4 years of
that conflict. His outpourings of Poetry, Short Stories, Journalism & Speeches served
both as propaganda & comfort for those at home & inspiration for those at the Front.
Despite the tragedy of loosing his only son, John, during the battle of Loos in 1915,
he never flagged in his efforts to present as full a picture of the War as he could.
After the War Kipling became much involved in the work of the War Graves Commission
& today it is words chosen by him which confront us in every cemetery and on every
I’ve attempted here to show as many of Kipling’s War-time publications as I can
find images for - some from my own small collection but mostly drawing on those used
in recent bibliographies, most particularly that by David Alan Richards.
Kipling was plagued throughout his career by the efforts of piratical publishers
who sought to profit from his work whilst avoiding the need to pay royalties. In
an effort to combat this, particularly in America, small limited editions (usually
50 - 100 copies) of many works were published by his American publishers Doubleday,
just prior to official publication, to establish copyright. These form the bulk of
the images shown below.
What prompted the appearance of this page was my fortuitous finding of the first
booklet shown below, ‘To Fighting Americans’. A collection of 2 of Kipling’s war-time
speeches, it was published in an edition of 50,000 copies for distribution to American
troops in 1918. According to the catalogue of an exhibition at the the Beinecke Book
Library in 2007 there are only 4 known copies of this tiny work, all now in public
libraries. Clearly it wasn’t appreciated by the troops who received it! Well now
there are 5!
St. Clement’s Press, London 1918. 50,000 copies printed. Two of Kipling’s speeches.
The book was distributed to American troops by the YMCA in Paris.
Probably the scarcest of the Doubleday pamphlets, 50 copies of each of the six sections
were published in 1914 as a result of Kipling’s visits to various training camps.
They were gathered together by Macmillan in 1915.
Macmillan & Doubleday 1915. There was a tiny limited edition of the various articles
published prior to these. The result of Kipling’s visit to the Front from Soissons
Daily Express 1915. A speech delivered as part of Lord Derby’s Recruiting Campaign.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1915 in 6 parts. 75 copies of each printed + Macmillan
1915. Essays on the activities of the Navy’s smaller units written at the request
of the Ministry.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1916 in 3 parts. 70 copies of each. Secret reports from
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1916 in 4 parts. 70 copies of each. Kipling’s account
of the battle. Part 1 contains the first appearance of the poem ‘Have you news of
my boy Jack’.
Macmillan 1916 & Doubleday 1917. Collects the 3 previous copyright issues ‘The Fringes
of the Fleet’, ‘Tales of the Trade’ & ‘Destroyers at Jutland’ plus ‘The Neutral’
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1916. 100 copies. Poem on America’s neutrality.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1916 in 4 parts. 60 copies printed but suppressed. A series
of imaginary letters from Indian soldiers in France. Subsequently collected as ‘The
Eyes of Asia’, Doubleday 1918.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1917, suppressed.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1917 in 5 parts. 88 -121 copies of each. Kipling’s visit
to the Italian front.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1917. 114 copies. A poem.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1917. A poem.
Doubleday, Copyright issue 1918. 83 copies. A poem.
W. H. Smith 1918. A speech delivered at Folkestone.