Image above: Kipling in his study - Naulakha - Photo courtesy: Landmark Trust USA
Rudyard Kipling was one of the best known writers in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. He had an extraordinary rise to fame, writing a prolific amount of short stories, novels and poetry. In 1907 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the youngest writer ever to do so, and the first to win with works in the English language.
Kipling was born of English parents in India in 1865 where he began writing. By age 24 he was traveling the world, fascinated by people and cultures. He married an American woman named Carrie, the sister of his London agent Walcott Balestier. The couple came to Brattleboro in 1892 to meet Carrie’s family. Kipling fell in love with Vermont. He built his dream house in Dummerston, naming it Naulakha, after a rare jewel in a novel he and Carrie’s brother had written. Kipling wanted a house that brought back memories of India, blending a bungalow style with Kashmiri houseboats. He envisioned it to resemble a house with a boat perched on the top of it. The house was the perfect blend between India and the United States. It melded inside with outside, nature and humanity. They settled and Kipling planned to write the great American novel. He started with sketches about local life in Vermont, and eventually wrote several books, including the famous Jungle Books and the Just So Stories.
All did not go well and Kipling, Carrie and their two children left suddenly four years later, after a bitter feud with another of Carrie’s brothers, Beattie. As Kipling was leaving he said there were only two places in the world where he wanted to live: Bombay and Brattleboro, and that he couldn’t live in either.
1- Commentary by Charles Fish: What did Kipling, one of the most famous writers in the world, love about living in Vermont? What was his life like in Dummerston? And why did he leave so suddenly after a short time?
2- Commentary by Christopher Benfey: Who were Kipling’s favorite American writers? How did the Just So Stories get their name? What book is considered Kipling’s masterpiece?
There are several locations that are particularly relevant to Kipling in this area. Naulakha, the home he built here, is owned and managed by Landmark Trust USA and may be occupied. Please contact them before attempting to visit as it is trespassing.
There is a state historical marker on the corner of Rte 5 and Black Mountain Road.
Brooks House in Downtown Brattleboro was a favorite spot for many writers throughout the years.