From the Archives: A Letter from Rudyard Kipling to Edward Bok

Edward Bok shares fond memories of his time spent with Rudyard Kipling in Chapter 20 of his book The Americanization of Edward Bok. After reading this chapter, Sam Russell, Library & Archival Collections Manager for Bok Tower Gardens, reached out to the Kipling Archives housed at the University of Sussex. They gracious searched their collections for correspondence between the famed author and Edward Bok. 

Miraculously, the discussion Bok shared in Chapter 20 is found in this letter from Kipling to Bok dated January 22, 1920 – one year before Edward Bok published his autobiography. Scroll down for the full transcript.

Brown’s Hotel
London, W. l.

January 22, 1920

Dear Bok,

Ever so many thanks for your most interesting letter.

Now I’ll see what I can fish up out of memory to assist you in your book.

As to William the Conqueror, it seems to me that Brander Matthew is the man for you to chase up. I don’t recall the event beyond a haxy recollection that the L.H.J. jibbed at the mention of intoxicating liquors and that I laughed. I don’t remember saying anything about Mellin’s Infant food – I wish I had. It sounds more like Brander Matthews, but I do distinctly remember that I made no changes. You asked me to make a change and I asked you to send the tale back.

You and Effendi and I went to England in the Teutonic in the spring about May or June 1899: and it was there that you learned the game of Poker and had the deck stacked on you and, on hearing that there was a woman aboard who read the L.H.J. insisted on playing with the cabin door carefully shut. Were I you, I should include this by all means.

I don’t recall the “Teutonic Tonic” but anyway do not publish anything from it. I’ve managed to keep clear of “personal” things as much as possible. Yes, you can republish “If” in facsimile if you like, as well as the swastika plaque that my father gave you.

Things are pretty mixed with the world just now but I expect we’ll come out of it all right in the long run – but there’s no doubt whatever that the run will be a long one.

I don’t see any way of my getting out to the U.S.A. There’s too much for everyone to do in the Eastern Hemisphere through the next few years, to allow a chance to play and the work will get heavier rather than lighter as long as what is left of our young generation in England is alive.

You must be very thankful to lay down your sword at last and be able to turn your leisure to things you have never yet had time to do. Lucky man!

We go home in a few days and settle down for the rest of the year I expect.

With every good wish.

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