Rudyard Kipling fans will be delighted to hear that a collection of his poems, thought to be lost, will be published for the first time.
The 50 previously unseen poems were discovered by the American scholar and emeritus professor of English at the University of California, Thomas Pinney. They were found in more than one place, with poems appearing in family papers and even during renovations at a Manhattan house.
The collection contains poems that date back to the First World War, with many focusing on the plight of the British soldier. Kipling initially supported the conflict, before the death of his son at the Battle of Loos in 1915.
One poem, titled The Press is a humorous, sardonic complaint about media intrusion. In it, a voice questions tirelessly: What's your last religion? / Have you got a creed? / Do you dress in Jaeger-wool / Sackcloth, silk or tweed? It is a poem perhaps pertinent for the present day.
Kipling's most famous work includes the poem If, which is often voted as the nation's favourite poem and short stories such as The Jungle Book, The Just So Stories and Kim.
The poem If has divided critics, with George Orwell describing it as a “good bad poem”. Yet the poem can be found in some unusual places. The inspiring lines, If you can meet with Triumph and Disaser / And treat those two impostors just the same, stand above the players’ entrance to the Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Yet despite being one of the nation’s most popular poets, Kipling’s reputation has suffered at times due to his association with British imperialism.
“Kipling has long been neglected by scholars probably for political reasons,” Pinney told the Guardian. “His texts have never properly been studied but things are starting to change. It's a tremendously exciting time for scholars and for fans of Kipling.”
The 50 poems will be published alongside more than 1,300 of Kipling’s other poems in a three-volume Cambridge University Press edition, priced at £200 and out on 7 March.