|Dimensions||10 × 21 × 3.5 cm|
Brown leatherette with gilt title and decoration on the spine. Gilt decoration on the front board.
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Stalky & Co. is a novel by Rudyard Kipling about adolescent boys at a British boarding school. It is a collection of school stories whose juvenile protagonists display a know-it-all, cynical outlook on patriotism and authority. It was first published in 1899 after the stories had appeared in magazines during the previous two years. It is set at a school dubbed “the College” or “the Coll.”, which is based on the actual United Services College that Kipling attended as a boy. The character Beetle, one of the main trio, is partly based on Kipling himself, while the charismatic character Stalky is based on Lionel Dunsterville, M’Turk is based on George Charles Beresford, Mr. King is based on William Carr Crofts, and the headmaster, Mr. Bates, is based on Cormell Price, headmaster of the United Services College.
The stories have elements of revenge, the macabre, bullying and violence, and hints about sex, making them far from childish or idealised. For example, Beetle pokes fun at an earlier, more earnest, boys’ book, Eric, or, Little by Little, thus flaunting his more worldly outlook. The final chapter recounts events in the lives of the boys when, as adults, they are in the armed forces in India. It is implied that the mischievous pranks of the boys in school were splendid training for their role as instruments of the British Empire.
George Orwell wrote in 1940 that Stalky had “had an immense influence on boys’ literature”.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in British India, which inspired much of his work.
Kipling’s works of fiction include the Jungle Book dilogy (The Jungle Book, 1894; The Second Jungle Book, 1895), Kim (1901), the Just So Stories (1902) and many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888). His poems include “Mandalay” (1890), “Gunga Din” (1890), “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (1919), “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands” (1899), and “If—” (1910). He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children’s books are classics; one critic noted “a versatile and luminous narrative gift.”
Kipling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was among the United Kingdom’s most popular writers. Henry James said “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, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood but declined both. Following his death in 1936, his ashes were interred at Poets’ Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.
Kipling’s subsequent reputation has changed with the political and social climate of the age. The contrasting views of him continued for much of the 20th century. Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: “[Kipling] 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 recognized 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.”
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