Books from the Rudyard Kipling collection kept at the Marlboro College Library.
Books from the Rudyard Kipling collection kept at the Marlboro College Library. (Kayla Rice/Brattleboro Reformer)

MARLBORO -- Most of the time the Kipling collection at Marlboro College remains stored away in a back room at the Rice-Aron Library.

Every once in a while, Library Director Emily Alling said, a scholar or student will call and the letters, notes, poems and other memorabilia are taken out for study.

Next week the Rice-Aron Library is going to be much busier.

The Kipling Society, which is based in London, is holding its annual meeting in the United States for the first time.

The two day symposium is planned for Oct. 7 and 8 and will include Kipling scholars from all over the world, a tour of the writer's former home, Naulakha, in Dummerston and access to the Marlboro collection.

"It was a great honor to be approached as a host for the 'Kipling in America' symposium," Marlboro College President Ellen McCulloch-Lovell said. "It is very much in keeping with the rich literary tradition here at Marlboro."

The two day symposium will open Monday morning, 9:15 a.m., at Marlboro College and will include a full day of presentations on the Marlboro campus by Kipling scholars from all over the world.

Speakers include Thomas Pinney, professor of English Emeritus at Pomona College who just published a three-volume edition of Kipling's poems, and David Richards, who wrote the definitive Kipling biography and will discuss a recently discovered manuscript with advice about story writing from Kipling to his sister-in-law.


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The Marlboro College Kipling collection has more than 400 catalogued items, including the contents of a locked tin box that was discovered in a Brattleboro bank in 1991 and held the author's marriage certificate signed by Kipling as well as by the witness, Henry James.

The collection also has a rare memoir written by family friend Mary Cabot, that offers a personal look at Kipling and his wife, who were both private people.

On Tuesday the group will tour Naulakha, Kipling's former home in Dummerston.

After his marriage to Caroline Balestier in January 1892, Kipling settled in southeastern Vermont and built the couple's house, Naulakha in Dummerston.

During this time the author was prolific, producing some of his best known works including "The Jungle Books" and the first of his "Just So Stories."

Kipling Society Chairman John Radcliffe said the symposium will focus on the author's years in Vermont, how he viewed Americans and how Americans viewed him and how the experience influenced his work.

"Last year, in the Kipling Society, we started to discuss the possibility of a conference on Kipling's time in America from 1892 to 1896," Radcliffe said. "First we thought it would just be a dream, but then we thought 'Why not?' Why not have a conference in New England where Kipling readers and scholars from around the world could meet and exchange ideas?"

The Kipling Society was founded in 1927, though Kipling himself did not greatly approve of the organization, the group says in its press release.

The group meets regularly in London, puts out four copies of the Kipling Journal annually, and maintains a library and archive.

The Kipling Society Research Library in London contains about 1,300 items including books and articles, press cutting and photographs and memorabilia.

The group is expecting about 60 people, including 15 or so who plan to travel from Britain for the special event, Radcliffe said.

"The Kipling Society usually has five meetings a year, in central London, and there have been earlier conferences in different centers in Britain, including Canterbury, Cambridge, Sheffield and Bristol," Radcliffe said. "This is the first time we have ventured outside these shores, which makes it a noteworthy event for us."

Radcliffe visited Vermont in 1983 while attending a conference in Burlington.

He was able to meet Tom Ragle, a fellow Kipling scholar who was president of Marlboro College at the time and was able to show Radcliffe the Marlboro archive.

Radcliffe also visited Naulakha.

He returned in April this year to meet with Marlboro College officials and set up the two-day meeting. 

"This was a most interesting time in Kipling's life, newly married to an American wife, settled in his own house for the first time on a Vermont hillside, and starting a family," Radcliffe said. "It was a time when his ideas were flowing freely and he was producing many notable works. It will be an exciting and rare opportunity for Kipling enthusiasts from Britain and elsewhere in America to see a remarkable assembly of documents."

For more information on the Kipling symposium, and to register for the event go to www.kipling.org.uk