Jad Adams

‘Adams’s chronicle is an important study of one of England’s literary heroes.’
Financial times

‘An enjoyably confrontational biography. Adams identifies Kipling’s self-deception as mirrored in the self-deception of the empire whose values he promoted in life and literature.’
The Times

‘In this intelligent, short-biography … Jad Adams provides a fair and sympathetic account of the man behind the work.’
Mail on Sunday


Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was the greatest writer in a Britain that ruled the largest empire the world has known, yet he was always a controversial figure, as deeply hated as he was loved. This accessible biography gives an understanding of the man behind the public image and explains his enduring popularity.

Kipling’s work was richly biographical. He was cruelly abandoned and abused as a child, but was to create some of the most enduring children’s characters ever written. In London of the 1890s, Kipling can be placed in the spectrum of literary ‘decadents’ and ‘hearties’, but it was by no means obvious into which group he fitted; he was an early imitator of Wilde and a friend of Beardsley.

A world writer who made his home in four continents, Kipling was castigated as a misogynist, though few writers of either sex have written so warmly about middle-aged women. He was accused of racism, though no other author wrote with such intimacy of native life. This biography examines Kipling not only as an imperialist but as a sensitive artist of his time.

JAD ADAMS is the author of Pankhurst (2003), Gandhi: Naked Ambition (2010) and Tony Benn – A Biography (2011).

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