Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Iconic British author, best known for writing The Jungle Book and other novels and stories set in India. This is the only author I have added to the website who has not actually written a horse novel, but only a short story, yet as it is a classic I felt he should be included.

There is a wealth of information about Kipling on the internet and elsewhere so I shall just provide a very brief bio here. He was born Joseph Rudyard Kipling in 1865 in Bombay, India, of British parents. At the age of five, he and his sister were sent to England to stay with an English family (as was customary for Anglo-Indian families at the time) and spent a miserable time there being badly treated. He was later to say in his autobiography that this ordeal sparked the beginning of his literary talent.

Upon leaving school, the young Kipling travelled back to India to work in a newspaper there, and it was there he also began his writing career by penning short stories. He left India in 1889 and travelled to England, Japan and the USA, where he settled with his new wife. It was there that he wrote his masterpiece,
The Jungle Book. He later travelled back to England and South Africa and eventually settled in Sussex. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. His works included short stories, novels and poetry.

Of interest to enthusiasts of horse and pony fiction is the classic short story he wrote about polo ponies set in India:
The Maltese Cat. This was set from the ponies' viewpoint and chronicled an exciting polo match in which the equine characters shaped the action of the game rather than the riders. As well as being an enjoyable story it also provides much background about the game itself and the culture of the time. The story was published in a collection of short stories called The World's Work and was aimed at adults rather than children, though the story can be enjoyed by youngsters too. Being written around 30 years before the 'pony point-of-view' story became popular in children's literature, the story is also somewhat innovative. It is now out of copyright and can be read on-line for free (as can most of the author's stories).

For further reading about the author please visit the links on the right. There is also an autobiography and several biographies available.

Short Horse & Pony Stories:

(Originally published in THE DAYS WORK, MACMILLAN 1898)
(First published as a stand alone by MACMILLAN 1936)
Repinted by Macmillan.
Reprinted by Lambourn Press in 1989.
Also included in many pony book compilations.
American edition published by Doubleday in 1936 and reprinted by Creative Education in the 1990s.
SUMMARY: A group of cheap and cheerful polo ponies owned by an impoverished infantry regiment and led by the wily pony The Maltese Cat are facing The Archangels, a top team of expensive ponies and upper class riders. Can our pony hero rally his troops and win against all the odds?
An enjoyable humourous story set from the point of view of the polo ponies.

Read/join in with a discussion of the story on the chat forum

Read on-line for free

Collectors Info:
There are a number of ways you can get hold of this story. The easiest and cheapest way is to read on-line for free, or failing that to buy it in one of the many compilations of stories (both pony and non-pony) it features in. The short story collection The Day's Work, in which it first appeared in book form, is also easy to find and cheap.
If  however, you want the stand-alone copy with the Lionel Edwards illustrations, things become a little harder, especially on the pocket! The easiest to find and cheapest may be the reprint by Lambourn. Both the UK and American first editions are rare and can be quite expensive with good dustjackets. For American collectors, the Creative Education edition is easier to find and cheaper than the first edition.