Classic Authors Illustrated: Rudyard Kipling

1890s 1910s book illustrations book illustrators classic authors classic literature early 1900s F H Townsend F X Leyendecker Golden Age Illustration Golden Age Illustrators Golden Age of Illustration Henry Reuterdahl illustrations illustrators Orson Lowell Rudyard Kipling W Heath Robinson William Henry Drake

Considering the fact that, to date, I already offer three prints of illustrations from Kipling's works, (with a fourth on the way very soon,) I felt inspired to write this blog entry to discuss the topic a bit more in depth.

While I haven't been able to find many details on Rudyard Kipling's direct relationship with, and attitude towards, the many illustrations that graced his work, (as I did with my article on Robert Louis Stevenson,) there are a couple things that I found surprising.

Firstly, I assumed that F. H. Townsend was the only illustrator on The Brushwood Boy, Kipling's otherworldly 1895 novella, having illustrated an edition in 1907. But I was intrigued to find that Orson Lowell had beaten Townsend by eight years. I own the 1907 Townsend edition, which I purchased around 2011-12 when my publishing business was still alive and well, and two of the prints I offer as of this writing are from that edition, so I'm quite familiar with it. As for Lowell's illustrations, they are not as detailed or as lifelike, but stylistically they are superb both in their line work and their minimalism.

Secondly, I made almost the same assumption about With the Night Mail, (one of Kipling's attempts at science fiction, by the way.) Although the 1909 edition was illustrated by F. X. Leyendecker and Henry Reuterdahl, I somehow forgot about Reuterdahl's contributions. Even more interestingly, there is at least one Reuterdahl illustration that wasn't in the edition I had checked out from the library. (Pictured below.)

Besides all this, another interesting fact about illustrations from Kipling (which is very likely common knowledge among Kipling enthusiasts, but I'll mention it here anyway,) is that he himself was skilled as an illustrator, and the illustrations from Just So Stories (1912) are his own. One can tell, by looking at those illustrations, that Kipling most likely took heavy inspiration from artists such as Aubrey Beardsley and Orson Lowell, judging from the minimalism, the line work, and the use of silhouette.

Aside from these facts, I found it very pleasing to look through the many illustrated editions of Kipling's works, which are quite the visual treasure trove! Here are several more illustrations from Kipling:

Endpapers from With the Night Mail (1909) by F. X. Leyendecker

Frontispiece from With the Night Mail (1909) by F. X. Leyendecker

Illustration from A Song of the English (1909) by W. Heath Robinson

Illustration from A Song of the English (1909) by W. Heath Robinson

Frontispiece from A Song of the English (1909) by W. Heath Robinson

Illustration from The Jungle Book (1894) by William Henry Drake

Illustration from The Jungle Book (1894) by William Henry Drake

If you enjoyed this article, please be sure to check out our Illustration collection, which includes the three aforementioned illustrations from the works of Kipling, as well as many others. Customers in the U.S. get free standard shipping on orders over $50.

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