Kipling Letter: I Stole Parts of Jungle Book
Rudyard Kipling letter set for auction
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 28, 2013 11:31 AM CDT
Updated Jun 1, 2013 8:00 AM CDT
Rudyard Kipling admitted to likely lifting portions of 'The Jungle Book.'   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – A letter from 1895 is raising new questions about the tales of Mowgli and friends. Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling wrote to an unknown recipient regarding the Law of the Jungle, a portion of the book: "A little of it is bodily taken from (Southern) Eskimo rules for the division of spoils. In fact, it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen."

An autograph expert bought the letter this month from an antiquarian book dealer, reports the Telegraph. It came from a batch of miscellaneous books and letters, the dealer says. Now, the letter is set for auction by Andrusier Autographs; it's listed for some $3,800. The discovery comes just months after the revelation of another big Kipling find.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Jun 1, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
Every piece of fiction writing has some of the derivative in it, but this isn't normally what we call plagiarism, which is outright, verbatim, wholesale stealing, which Kipling didn't do. It takes a good writer like Kipling to know how to rework and expand upon bits of pre-existing material. This should not detract from Kipling's ability to write a good story.
May 30, 2013 8:33 AM CDT
Do you really think kids who grew up enjoying Jungle Book really care where the story came from? The movie was one of my favorites in 68. If not for Disney picking up the story and running with it to make the movie, Kipling wouldn't have gotten much press at all, would he?
May 29, 2013 2:17 AM CDT
Kipling's plagiarism, like Dylan Thomas's, has been well known for many decades. Bold thieves are well rewarded by humanity, especially in literary circles....For in those realms, even more than in the realm of history, the winners tell the tale...Whoever makes the most money with "their work" is remembered; as in the world of science, the real facts of how work is done and who should get credit are quickly forgotten...Kipling, anyway, was a racist, a crashing, nearly illiterate boor, a writer whose works are of no interest to Americans or anyone else in the 21st century....And yes, he was promiscuous.