Rudyard Kipling lived the first six years of his life in India. His childhood was a golden age for him, as should be the case for any child. Kipling was English, his parents were English, yet he lived in India. India was all that he knew. His playmates were Indian. He spoke their language. He played their games. For young Kipling, it all seemed quite normal.
Then, he was sent back “home”, to England, to be cared for by strangers. His parents did so without explanation to young Kipling, though they had their reasons. This must have caused a great deal of anguish for him at such a tender age. The psychological wound may have been deep. Later in life Kipling would write “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which is supposed to be autobiographical. In it he writes, “ . . . when a child drinks deep of the waters of hate and cruelty, all the love in the world cannot take it away.”
His time away from India, the land he loved so much, was not long. He returned there in his mid-teens to work as a journalist. Obviously, his experience in this field provided the background for “The Man Who Would Be King” and numerous other works.
Kipling is often thought of by others as an “insider” with regards to life in India. It is true that Kipling understood, loved and lived the Indian culture more so than any Englishman could have, yet he never thought of himself as an insider. He felt as much an outsider in India as he did back “home”, in England. The latter part of his life was spent in many locations throughout the world, including the United States, in search of somewhere that felt like home to him. Insider or not, Kipling was in his true element in India.