Was Rudyard Kipling a Freemason?
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (born 1865, India), joined Freemasonry and became a Freemason in 1885. Kipling was a highly accomplished writer and was the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Rudyard Kipling is the author the original “The Jungle Book” story.
Who was Rudyard Kipling?
Heard of the “The Jungle Book”? The Disney film from our childhood is an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s series of stories with the same name, “The Jungle Book”. Born in British India but educated in England, Joseph Rudyard Kipling is best known for his English poetry and storytelling skills.
The young Rudyard Kipling
Kipling was born in British India in a city called Bombay (now known as Mumbai, the Capital of India). His father was an architectural sculptor and his mother was a professor; they had both relocated to British India after getting married.
At the age of 5, Kipling and his sister were sent to England for their education – a practice common at the time. Kipling recalled this period of time as a dark one, suffering cruelty and neglect by the family that hosted him.
Kipling returns home, to India
At the age of 16, Kipling’s parents decided to bring the young man back home to India. Kipling’s parents felt they couldn’t afford to send him to university and doubted whether he would qualify for a University scholarship. He set sail for India in September, 1882.
On return back to India, Kipling’s father was able to get him a job, as an assistant editor, for a local newspaper in Lahore – the same city in which Rudyard Kipling became a Freemason. By 1888, at the age of 22, his short stories were appearing in multiple newspapers in India.
Kipling’s writing career takes off
Kipling’s career as a writer, poet and storyteller would go from strength to strength. Having made some money selling some of his stories in India, he eventually moved the the United States. It was here where he wrote the Jungle Book series – that inspired numerous cinematic remakes.
He wrote a multitude of poems and stories, including short stories for children. His works become loved globally. In 1907, Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Kipling, who was 41 at the time, remains the youngest recipient of this literary award.
His life in India inspired his writing and so did Freemasonry.
Rudyard Kipling and Freemasonry
As with many of Freemasonry’s prestigious alumni, Kipling’s Masonic career started early, at the age of 20. Let’s take a look at Rudyard Kipling’s distinguished stretch in Freemasonry as a Freemason.
Rudyard Kipling’s initiation into Freemasonry
In April 1885, at the age of 20, Kipling was initiated into Freemasonry at a Masonic Lodge called “Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782”, operating under the English Grand Lodge, in Lahore Punjab, India (which is now part of Pakistan). This was his Mother Lodge.
The minimum age for becoming a Freemason is typically 21 years of age and so Kipling received special dispensation to become a Freemason a bit earlier.
Kipling’s career as a Freemason
We’ve simplified his Masonic career in a short, by no means complete, list:
- In July 1887, Kipling gave a lecture on the topic “Popular Views on Freemasonry” at his Masonic Lodge in Lahore.
- In January 1887, at the age of 22, he lectured twice and received a degree of a Mark Mason in Fidelity Mark Lodge and a Royal Ark Mariner in Mt. Ararat Mark Mariners Lodge
- After leaving Lahore and settling down in Allahabad, In April 1888, he got affiliated with the Independence with Philanthropy Lodge No. 391 at Allahabad, Bengal.
- In March 1889, He was put absent from his Craft Lodge and gave a resignation three months later from the other lodges in June 1889 as he was then settled in the United States.
In 1899, Kipling was elected as an Honorary Member and Poet-Laureate of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2 at Scotland.
- Coming back to England, Kipling was proposed to accept the Honorary Membership with Author’s Lodge No. 3456 and Motherland Lodge No. 3861 at London in 1918 respectively.
- In 1922, Kipling became a founding member of The Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge No 12 at St Omer, France.
- In November 1924, Kipling was recorded present at the Rosemary Lodge No. 2851 at London.
- In 1927, he became the founding member of the sister lodge – The Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge No. 3861 at London. He kept the membership until 1935.
Kipling’s Masonic writings
Like Mozart (also a Freemason), Kipling intertwined Freemasonry themes into his works, notably his poetry. Some of his Masonic inspired poems are well-known by Freemasons and are often read during Masonic occasions and festivities to this day.
Here are a few snippets of Kipling’s Freemasonry inspired writings:
- From “The Palace” (poem)
“When I was a King and a Mason, a Master Proven and skilled,
I cleared me ground for a Palace, such as a King should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace, such as a King had built.”
- From “The Thousandth Man” (poem)
“One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin’ you.”
- From “Banquet Night” (poem)
“Once in so often, King Salomon said,
Watching his quarrymen drill the stone,
We will club our garlic and wine and bread,
And banquet together beneath my Throne.
And all the Brethren shall come to that mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less.”
- From “The Mother Lodge” (poem)
“There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ‘Ackman, Commissariat,
An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was ‘e,
With ‘im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.
Outside Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!
Inside Brother, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!”
Till 1930’s Kipling kept writing and winning the hearts of global audience but suffering from a painful ulcer, he lost his life on January 18 1936, at the age of 70. He was later buried in Westminster Abbey, in Poets’ Corner.
The following year saw the posthumous publication of the autobiographical Something of Myself. Kipling’s writings remain much loved till today; a real credit to Freemasonry.