Poe was Kipling's earliest literary model, but he was enormously well read and possessed of an enormously retentive memory. We mention a few of those whose work he knew well and drew upon — Shakespeare, Bunyan, Defoe, Fielding, Scott, Peacock, Byron, Keats, Emerson, Hawthorne, John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, Browning, Walter Besant, Joaquin Miller, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Stevenson, George Meredith, Algernon Charles Swinburne, the Icelandic sagas (through William Morris), the Pre-Raphaelites (both their prose and their painting), and E. E. Nesbit — in order to show the extent to which it can be demonstrated that a great and original literary artist can nevertheless be saturated with literary indebtednesses. As a rule, however, Kipling's imagination transmuted his sources so thoroughly, and he handled them so artfully, that we feel their presence in his work only (as in "Mary Postgate") when he wishes to invoke them deliberately to add depth or meaning to his work.

Last modified 1988