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The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book
Embossed cover of first edition with artwork by John Lockwood Kipling
Author Rudyard Kipling
Illustrator John Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard's father)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Jungle Books
Genre Children's book
Publisher Macmillan
Publication date
Preceded by "In the Rukh"
Followed by The Second Jungle Book

The Jungle Book (1894) is a collection of stories by English author Rudyard Kipling. The stories are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons. A principal character is the boy or "man-cub" Mowgli, who is raised in the jungle by wolves. Other characters include Shere Khan the tiger and Baloo the bear. The book has been adapted many times for film and other media.


The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94. The original publications contain illustrations, some by the author's father, John Lockwood Kipling. Rudyard Kipling was born in India and spent the first six years of his childhood there. After about ten years in England, he went back to India and worked there for about six-and-a-half years. These stories were written when Kipling lived in Naulakha, the home he built in Dummerston, Vermont, in the United States.[1] There is evidence that Kipling wrote the collection of stories for his daughter Josephine, who died from pneumonia in 1899, aged 6; a rare first edition of the book with a handwritten note by the author to his young daughter was discovered at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, England, in 2010.[2]



The tales in the book (as well as those in The Second Jungle Book, which followed in 1895 and includes five further stories about Mowgli) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to teach moral lessons. The verses of "The Law of the Jungle", for example, lay down rules for the safety of individuals, families, and communities. Kipling put in them nearly everything he knew or "heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle".[3] Other readers have interpreted the work as allegories of the politics and society of the time.[4]


A letter written and signed by Rudyard Kipling in 1895 was put up for auction in 2013 by Andrusier. In this letter, Kipling confesses to borrowing ideas and stories in the Jungle Book: "I am afraid that all that code in its outlines has been manufactured to meet 'the necessities of the case': though a little of it is bodily taken from (Southern) Esquimaux rules for the division of spoils," Kipling wrote in the letter. "In fact, it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen."[5]


The book is arranged with a story in each chapter. Each story is followed by a poem that serves as an epigram.

Story Description Epigrammatic poem
Mowgli's Brothers A boy is raised by Indian wolves in the Indian jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, and then has to fight the tiger Shere Khan. This story has also been published as a short book in its own right: Night-Song in the Jungle. "Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack"
Kaa's Hunting This story takes place before Mowgli fights Shere Khan. When Mowgli is abducted by the Bandar-logs, Baloo and Bagheera set out to rescue him with the aid of Chil the kite and Kaa the python. "Road Song of the Bandar-Log"
Tiger! Tiger! Mowgli returns to the human village and is adopted by Messua and her husband who believe him to be their long-lost son Nathoo. But he has trouble adjusting to human life, and Shere Khan still wants to kill him. The story's title is taken from the poem "The Tyger" by William Blake. "Mowgli's Song"
The White Seal Kotick, a rare white-furred northern fur seal, searches for a new home for his people, where they will not be hunted by humans.[6] Many names in the story are Russian,[a] as the Pribilof Islands had been bought (with Alaska) by the United States in 1867, and Kipling had access to books about the islands.[6] "Lukannon"
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi Rikki-Tikki the mongoose defends a human family living in India against a pair of cobras. This story has also been published as a short book. "Darzee's Chaunt"
Toomai of the Elephants Toomai, a ten-year-old boy who helps to tend working elephants, is told that he will never be a full-fledged elephant-handler until he has seen the elephants dance. This story has also been published as a short book. "Shiv and the Grasshopper"
Her Majesty's Servants[b] On the night before a military parade, a British soldier eavesdrops on a conversation between the camp animals. "Parade-Song of the Camp Animals" is set to the tunes of several well-known songs.[c]


Many of the characters are named simply for the Hindi names of their species: for example, Baloo is a transliteration of Hindi भालू Bhālū, "bear".


Sayan Mukherjee, writing for the Book Review Circle, calls The Jungle Book "One of the most enjoyable books of my childhood and even in adulthood, highly informative as to the outlook of the British on their 'native population'."[8]

The Jungle Book came to be used as a motivational book by the Cub Scouts, a junior element of the Scouting movement. This use of the book's universe was approved by Kipling at the request of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, who had originally asked for the author's permission for the use of the Memory Game from Kim in his scheme to develop the morale and fitness of working-class youths in cities. Akela, the head wolf in The Jungle Book, has become a senior figure in the movement; the name is traditionally adopted by the leader of each Cub Scout pack.[9]

Adaptations in other media


Robert Heinlein got the idea for his science fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), when he and his wife, Virginia, were brainstorming one evening in 1948; she suggested a new version of Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894), but with a child raised by Martians instead of wolves, and he decided to go further with the idea and worked on the story on and off for more than a decade.[10] In 1962, it received the Hugo Award for Best Novel.[11]

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (2008) is inspired by The Jungle Book. It follows a baby boy who is found and brought up by the dead in a cemetery. It has many scenes that can be directly linked back to Kipling, but with Gaiman's dark twist. Mr. Gaiman has spoken in some detail about this on his website.[12]


  • Jungle Book cycle (1958), was written by the Australian composer Percy Grainger, an avid Kipling reader[13]
  • The Jungle Book, a BBC Radio adaptation first broadcast on 14 February 1994 and released as a BBC audiobook in 2008,[14] was directed by Chris Wallis with a cast that includes Nisha K. Nayar as Mowgli, Eartha Kitt as Kaa, Freddie Jones as Baloo, and Jonathan Hyde as Bagheera, with music by John Mayer[15]

Comic books

The book's text has often been edited or adapted for younger readers, and there have been several comic book adaptations:

Films and television

Many motion pictures have been based on Kipling's stories:

Heroes of the Soviet animation film on a postal stamp of Russia


Stuart Paterson wrote a stage adaptation in 2004, first produced by the Birmingham Old Rep in 2004 and published in 2007 by Nick Hern Books.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Many of the 'animal language' words and names in this story are a phonetic spelling of Russian (probably as spoken with an Aleut accent), for example 'Stareek!' (Старик!) 'old man!'; 'Ochen scoochnie' (said by Kotick) 'I am very lonesome' Очень скучный (correctly means 'very boring'); holluschick (plural -ie) 'bachelor male seal' (холощик) from холостой ('unmarried'); Matkah (Kotick's mother, матка, 'dam', 'mother of an animal', or 'womb')
  2. ^ Originally titled "Servants of the Queen"
  3. ^ "Cavalry Horses" is set to Bonnie Dundee. "Elephants of the Gun-Teams" fits the tune and has a similar first line to The British Grenadiers, as does "Gun-Bullocks". "Screw-Gun Mules" is set to the tune of The Lincolnshire Poacher.[7]


  1. ^ Rao, K. Bhaskara (1967). Rudyard Kipling's India. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. 
  2. ^ "Kipling first edition with author's poignant note found". BBC New. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Gilmour, David (2003). The Long Recessional: the Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-6518-8. 
  4. ^ Hjejle, Benedicte & Fddbek, Ole (Editor) & Thomson, Niels (Editor) (1983). "Kipling, Britisk Indien og Mowglihistorieine". Feitskrifi til Kristof Glamann. Odense, Denmark: Odense Universitetsforlag. pp. 87–114. 
  5. ^ Flood, Alison (31 May 2013). "Rudyard Kipling 'admitted to plagiarism in Jungle Book'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "The White Seal". The Kipling Society. 
  7. ^ "Page 1 of 38 The Musical Settings of Kipling's Verse" (PDF). The Kipling Society. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Mukherjee, Sayan. "Book: The Jungle Book". Book Review Circle. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "History of Cub Scouting". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 30 October 2016. A strong influence from Kipling's Jungle Book remains today. The terms "Law of the Pack," "Akela," "Wolf Cub," "grand howl," "den," and "pack" all come from the Jungle Book. 
  10. ^ "Biography: Robert A. Heinlein". Heinlein Society. 
  11. ^ "1962 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Journal: The Graveyard Book". Neil Gaiman's Journal. 13 February 2008. 
  13. ^ "CD Review. Percy Grainger. Jungle Book". Classical Net. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "BBC Press Office - new releases". 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  15. ^ "Diversity Website - Radio Plays - The Jungle Book". Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  16. ^ Superman Annual. DC Comics. 1994. 
  17. ^ "The Jungle Book". Fanfare #8–11, 64 pages,. Marvel. April 2007. 
  18. ^ SPH Magazines (2007). GameAxis Unwired. SPH Magazines. p. 78. ISSN 0219-872X. 
  19. ^ "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (TV 1975) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  20. ^ "The White Seal (TV 1975) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Mowgli's Brothers (TV 1976) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "Elephant Boy". IMDB. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "BBC, Pathe team for 'Jungle Book' – Entertainment News, Film News, Medi". Variety. 
  24. ^ Stuart Paterson – complete guide to the Playwright and Plays

External links