Rudyard Kipling signed his letters very sincerely, but he was not sincere. In his own Just So story of how his books came to be, the author of The Jungle Book and Kim cagily admits to plagiarism.
In a newly discovered letter from 1895, Rudyard Kipling admits to some literary thievery in The Jungle Book—he's just not sure who he stole from. Writing to an unknown woman (Lady Justice), he references Laws of the Jungle, which he included in his novel. He writes:
In fact, it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen.
Very sincerely, Rudyard Kipling
Kipling was the first English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1908, and at the age of 42 he is still the youngest writer ever to receive the honor. However, his reputation has not help up immaculately. He may or may not be a racist jingoist. Kipling was also not beloved in literary circles. In 1942, George Orwell wrote about the author: "During five literary generations every enlightened person has despised him… he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting." Adding 'literary thief' to the list would hardly make that more insulting.
Meanwhile, this letter of lies will soon be sold at an auction—likely fetching upwards of $3,500.
[image via Getty]