Rudyard Kipling, who received the Nobel prize for literature in 1907, was the son of an art teacher and the nephew of two of the greatest late Victorian painters -- Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter. Like W. M. Thackeray, he created illustrations for his written work, but whereas the author of Vanity Fair worked in a style characteristic of early Victorian illustrators close to the tradition of caricature, Kipling's work reveals the influence of Aubrey Beardsley and other artists of the '90s and after. The large interrupted areas of black and white in "The Cat that Walked by Himself" and "The Whale looking for the little 'Stute Fish" show the obvious influence of Beardsley, whose style emphasizes the characteristic strengths of the photographic reproductive processes that replaced the wood engraving of earlier Victorian illustration. Both "The Whale swallowing the Mariner" and "The Animal that came out of the sea" resemble the work of Sidney Sime, Lord Dunsany's illustrator. In fact, the illustrations to the Just So Stories reveal a very eclectic Kipling: The influence of Japanese prints appears in the composition of "The Parsee beginning to eat his cake" -- an influence frequently found in the illustrations of his contemporary W. Heath Robinson; Kipling's page decoration for "The Elephant's Child" resembles European and American folk motifs, and that for "How the Rhinoceros got his Skin" is an obvious borrowing from Navajo art.



Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Stories for Little Children. Illustrated by the Author. London: Macmillan, 1926.

Last modified 19 February 2005