The Female of the Species (poem)

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"The Female of the Species" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling originally published in 1911.[1] The title and refrain has been used as a title for at least three other works (see The Female of the Species (disambiguation)).


It begins with illustrations of the greater deadliness of the females of different species, the Himalayan bear, the cobra and the Native American, who frightened the Jesuits more than the men. It continues with the general thought that women, "must be deadlier than the male", as she is formed for the one purpose - motherhood. Woman, says Kipling, has the greater determination - the greater courage and single-mindedness in the pursuit of the important in life.

References in other media[edit]

"The Female of the Species" and its refrain have been used as a catchphrase in other works. In 1928 the Bulldog Drummond story "The Female of the Species" may have lifted the title. This story was adapted as the 1967 European spy movie Deadlier Than the Male. Scott Walker of The Walker Brothers wrote and performed the accompanying musical theme and scored a minor hit on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. In 1996 the English pop group Space released "Female of the Species". The title was again lifted in 2006 for Joanna Murray-Smith's satirical play The Female of the Species. A 1946 novel by James Hadley Chase was titled More Deadly Than The Male.

In 1984, Off Centaur Publications released an audio tape cassette album titled The Horse-Tamer's Daughter featuring a song based on the poem, set to music by Leslie Fish and performed by Julia Ecklar.[2] In 1998, the song was nominated for a Pegasus Award for "Best Adaptation" by a ballot of science fiction and fantasy fans, conducted by the committee of the annual Ohio Valley Filk Fest (OVFF), a filk music convention.[3]

It is recited by the character of Denis Thatcher, played by Jim Broadbent, in The Iron Lady (2011).

It is referenced by the character of Col. Mustard, played by Martin Mull, in the 1985 film Clue.


  1. ^ "The Female of the Species". Poetry Lovers' Page. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter (album)". Fanlore. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Pegasus Awards - Female of the Species". Ohio Valley Filk Fest. Ohio Valley Filk Fest, Inc. Retrieved 24 October 2014.