Kipling was always deeply interested in pictorial art, and in fact was an artist himself who illustrated a number of his own books. His father John had also been an artist, and Kipling's uncles included the famous painters Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter. He spent holidays, as a child, in the households of the Pre-Raphaelite Burne-Jones and Morris family households — William Morris was his "Uncle Topsy." Though he would later denigrate the Pre-Raphaelites, there is ample evidence that during his adolescence he admired their work greatly.

Compare "Mary Postgate" with Pre-Raphaelite works by Rossetti, Millais, and Burne-Jones: in what ways do they constitute a gloss or a commentary upon the story, and to what extent is the story itself an ironic commentary upon the messages implicit in the paintings and drawings? How can we "read" these works, and "read" "Mary Postgate" through them? (You might want to think, as well, of the fairy-tale theme which we saw in Dickens's Great Expectations: how does that same theme function ironically in "Mary Postgate"?

Victorian England Rudyard Kipling

Last modified 1988