Aunt Judy, Ruskin, Carlyle

  • Nora Crook


Kipling’s boyhood and youth were passed during the period of the secularisation of middle-class children’s literature, previously dominated by Evangelical ‘realistic’ moral tales such as those of Mrs Sherwood. While these were still a powerful force, there were countercurrents. What was later to harden into an early-twentieth-century orthodoxy, the view that fairytale, folklore, legend and myth not only could but should form the basis of early moral education as the child re-enacted the history of mankind, was being shaped in the 1860s and 1870s. Kipling’s early reading was so catholic that no dominant trend can be isolated, yet it was indubitably rich in these areas — indeed, richer than most. In addition to his imbibing the usual Grimm, Andersen, Kingsley’s The Heroes and Aesop, his favourite ‘Aunt Georgie’ Burne-Jones read him The Arabian Nights and his honorary ‘Uncle Topsy’ (William Morris) tried out on him the Icelandic saga that he happened to be translating. At school he joined in a craze for Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus (SM, pp. 12–14).1 The oral tradition of Indian storytelling came to him through his ayah and he extended his familiarity with it upon his return to India in 1882. He was a lifelong, if miscellaneous, collector of anthologies of and commentaries upon the mythic and folkloric.2


Giant Killer Modern Painter Cult Book Arabian Night Tall Tale 
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  1. 2.
    Kipling’s library holdings of myth, folklore and related studies are too numerous to detail, but include W. Crooke, An Introduction to the Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India (1894);Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    H. Bayley, The Lost Language of Symbolism (1912);Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Charlotte Burne, Handbook of Folklore (1914). (Bateman’s.)Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    See J. W. Gleeson White, English Illustration: ‘The Sixties’: 1855–70 (London: Constable, 1897) p. 114; SM, p. 33.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See George P. Landow, Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows (London and Boston, Mass.: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), esp. pp. 47–50;Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (eds), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd edn (Oxford University Press, 1974), s. v. Allegory, Types.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    George P. Landow, The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971 ) pp. 349–51.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Christabel Maxwell, Mrs Gatty and Mrs Ewing (Constable, 1949) pp. 220–2.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    John Christian, ‘Ruskin and Burne-Jones’, in Leslie Parris (ed.), Pre-Raphaelite Papers (Tate Gallery, 1984 ) pp. 184–205.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nora Crook 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nora Crook
    • 1
  1. 1.Cambridgeshire College of Arts and TechnologyUK

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