Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was born in Bombay, British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best works are said to exhibit "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".
Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James said of him: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.
Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. A young George Orwell called him a "prophet of British imperialism". According to critic Douglas Kerr: "He is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with."