Naulakha was the home of Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, Kim, and many other works.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, present day Mumbai, 30 Dec 1865, to British parents John Lockwood Kipling an artist, teacher, and architect, and his wife Alice MacDonald.
Naulakha as it looks today.
Alice MacDonald is one of the four famous MacDonald sisters, Scottish women who would all marry well known men of the Victorian Era. Their father was Reverend George Browne MacDonald and their mother was Hannah Jones, together they had 11 children.
Children of Rev. George Browne MacDonald and Hannah Jones:
- Mary 1834–1836
- Henry 1836–1891
- Caroline 1838-1854
- Georgiana 1848-1928
- Frederic William 1842–1928
- Walter 1847-1847
- Edith 1848–1937
- Herbert 1850–1851
At the age of 5 Kipling was sent to Southsea, England by his mother, to stay with a foster family and complete his education. She desired for him a formal British education. There he stayed with a family by the name of Holloway, who were not particularly kind to young Kipling.
When Kipling was 11 a visitor to the Holloways noticed that Kipling was having problems and possibly on the verge of a breakdown. The visitor notified his mother who rushed back to England to rescue her son. She took him on an extended vacation and then placed him in a new school in Devon, United Services College at Westward Ho. Here Kipling excelled, and discovered his talent for writing with encouragement from his head master.
In 1882, at the age of 16, Kipling returned to India. There he got a job working at Civil and Military Gazette, a local newspaper. He would later go on to work at is sister publication the Pioneer. Seven years later, in 1889, Kipling would head back to England.
In London he met Wolcott Balestier, an American who worked as an agent and publisher. Balestier and Kipling would become fast friends, with Balestier becoming one of his biggest supporters. They would travel together as well, with Balestier taking Kipling to the United States and showing off where he grew up, Brattleboro, VT. Their friendship would be short lived, however, with Balestier dying suddenly of Typhoid Fever in 1891. Balestier’s friend Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a letter to The Pall Mall Gazette on 8
December 1891, about Balestier’s death.
During their firendship, Balestier had introduced Kipling to his sister Caroline, who would also become friends with Kipling. Upon her brothers death she wired Kipling to come back to her. Kipling responded by rushed back to England, to be with Caroline, and shortly there after the two were married. They would then set of on a round-the-world honeymoon, purchasing the property for Naulakha while abroad.
Caroline father is Henry Wolcott Balestier, also listed on some sources as Dr. Henry Wolcott. Some sources list Caroline’s mother as Anna Smith while others list her mother as Frances Burbank. Henry was born in Middletown, CT around 1788, and died in Chicago, IL in 1846. Finding records for her parents to verify them has proved hard to almost impossible. The records may have been lost for various reasons, or that section of the archives/records room hasn’t been uploaded to the internet yet.
Caroline Starr Balestier Kipling at Naulakha in her boudoir. Date unknown. Photo credit National Trust Collections, UK. Accessed at nationaltrustcollections.org.uk
By 1892 the Kipling’s were living in Vermont at Naulakha. Kipling and his wife enjoyed their life there and soon welcomed their first child, Josephine, in 1893. In 1894 Kipling had published the first Jungle Book, with the second Jungle Book coming out the next year in 1895. The next year the couple would welcome their second child, Elsie, in 1896.
Rudyard Kipling, his wife, and their first daughter Josephine. Date unknown, but likely 1893, shortly after her birth at the end of 1892. Photo credit National Trust Collections, UK. Accessed at nationaltrustcollections.org.uk
Their happiness at Naulakha was not to last, with Kipling having a falling out with his wife’s surviving brother, Beatty. According to articles from the New York times, in May of 1896, Beatty had threatened Kipling’s life. Kipling filed charges and unwittingly opened the doors to a life he kept very private. The public, his fans, the press and the courts wanted to know more about him. As a result he and his family hastily headed back to England before the end of the year. The very next year, in 1897, Kipling and his wife had their third child, John.
Just three years later, in 1899, Kipling’s wife Caroline would become home sick and would insist on a trip back to America. During the hard journey across the Atlantic both Kipling and his daughter Josephine would become ill with pneumonia. Kipling would recover, but Josephine would not. For fear of his health the family did not tell him of her passing till he had fully recovered, and it would be his publisher who would deliver the news as Caroline could not bear to. After his beloved daughters death, Kipling swore he would never return to America. Those who knew him best said he was never the same again.
Portriat of Caroline Starr Balestier Kipling, wife of Joseph Rudyard Kipling. Painted by Philip Edward Burne-Jones. Photo credit: Bateman’s National Trust. Accessed at http://www.artuk.org.
By 1902 the Kipling’s would be living in Sussex, at a property known as Bateman’s. The stone manor on the property had been erected in 1634, and it’s grounds were secluded and quiet. Something the Kipling family cherished. Here Kipling would finish writing the remainder of his works, with his wife taking charge as head of house hold, and running off reports or any others who came by looking for the esteemed writer.
With the start of the first World War, Kipling would travel to Paris for some time to report on the war from the trenches. He would even encourage his son to enlist for service, but John had the same eye sight issues as his father, and would be turned down for service. Kipling was able to pull a few strings and get John an enlistment in the Irish Guard as a Second Lieutenant.
In 1915, Kipling and his wife received heartbreaking news, their son John had gone missing in France. Devastated over losing another child Kipling set off for France in a bid to find his son. He would come home empty handed, and their sons body was never recovered.
Over the next 21 year Kipling would continue to write, but he would never again visit the happy and cheerful tales he wrote in the past. The loss of two of his children left him and his wife grieving, and their health would slowly deteriorate.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling died on 18 Jan 1936. Caroline would only survive him by three years, dying on 19 Dec 1939.
The Kipling’s surviving daughter Elsie, would go on to marry Captain George Louis St Claire Bambridge, who had served in the Irish Guards like her brother. They were married on 22 October 1924, and had no children.
Today Naulakah is a historical landmark, and is preserved by The Landmark Trust USA. Since the Kipling’s left in such a hurry most of the furnishings in the house are the ones purchased and used by the Kipling family themselves. The main house along with the carriage house, which has been converted into a guest house, can be rented out any time of year. The houses make great family vacation spots, with plenty to see and explore with Brattleboro just down the road. If you are curious about visiting or renting one of the houses you can contact The Landmark Trust USA at 802-254-6868.
Photo Tour ~ Naulakah
Photo Tour ~ Carriage House
Boyd, Angelina. “George Louis St Claire Bambridge.” Find a Grave. March 29, 2013. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=33510119&PIpi=77338275.
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Conway, David. “Elsie Kipling Bambridge.” Find a Grave. June 02, 2003. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7526849.
Taylor, Ina Victorian sisters 1987 Weidenfeld & Nicholson
Barlow, Nikita. “Caroline Starr Balestier Kipling.” Find a Grave. April 25, 2008. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26391268.
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“RUDYARD KIPLING 1865-1936.” Kiplingsociety.co.uk. http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/kip_fra.htm.
Tansey, David C. “Naulakha (Kipling House).” Connecticut River Joint Commissions Inc. April 1993. http://www.crjc.org/heritage/V03-3.htm.
Guyon, Anne Lawrence. “Where Kipling Reared Mowgli (in Vermont).” Nytimes.com. March 18, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/travel/escapes/19kipling.html.