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Rudyard Kipling King Of The Road

Rudyard Kipling King Of The Road

Rudyard Kipling was not only a legendary storyteller and chronicler of the Empire but also a car enthusiast, discovers Ian Morton

The poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and his wife travel as passengers in a car, to attend the first Court of the Season at Buckingham Palace in 1925

He was a prolific writer, the first Briton to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, who nonetheless declined the appointment as Poet Laureate and turned down a knighthood. Rudyard Kipling was feted in his day for his portrayal of stiff-upper-lip Englishness – even though his traditional values and literary reputation are now occasionally vilified by fashionable revisionism. This is the familiar Kipling. However, there was another side to him. The author and poet had a passion that later went on to be shared by millions. He loved motoring.

Kipling was drawn into the fraternity of the road by newspaper magnate Alfred Harmsworth, who drove down to Rottingdean on the Sussex coast in October 1899 to demonstrate his Panhard car to his literary friend. Motoring was “like being massaged at speed”, Harmsworth declared. Kipling and his wife, Carrie, took a 20-minute trip and were equally enthralled. The outing left them ‘white with dust…

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