Friday, 9 April 2010

The discovery of the jungle

A first edition of The Jungle Book, complete with a handwritten inscription by author Rudyard Kipling to his youngest daughter, has been discovered in a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire. Inscribed "This book belongs to Josephine Kipling for whom it was written by her father, May 1894", the book was found in the library of Wimpole Hall in a collection belonging to Kipling's second daughter Elsie Bambridge, who lived in the property between 1938 and 1976. She brought many of her own books with her, as well as those of her husband, mother and father. Josephine Kipling died of pneumonia aged six, five years after her father dedicated the book to her. "This inscription is very touching, especially when you consider that Kipling lost not only Josephine, but also his youngest child, John, who died in the Great War," said Wimpole Hall curator Fiona Hall. "As Kipling's only remaining child, Elsie would have really treasured this book." Josephine Kipling's copy of The Jungle Book came to light following a three-year project to catalogue the Wimpole Hall library. Although the inscription is unsigned, the handwriting, based on analysis of many other items in the Kipling archive, is believed to be the author's. "There are nearly 7,000 books in the Wimpole library and this has been a big project to catalogue them all properly, but as one of the nation's favourite children's books of all time, this first edition of the Jungle Book with its rare inscription is very special," said Mark Purcell, the National Trust's libraries curator. The catalogue is shown on the website of the specialist academic library catalogue, COPAC
Text and images from The Guardian website and

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