Lot 441
Sold for £2,760 (US$ 4,639) inc. premium
Lot Details
Schoolboy Lyrics, FIRST EDITION, UPPER COVER INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR "School-Boy Lyrics./ Rudyard Kipling." between double-ruled lines, title-page removed, white wrappers, slight fraying to edges and foxing, minor chips and splitting to backstrip [Stewart 1; Grolier 15; Martindell 1], 8vo, [Lahore, Printed at the Civil and Military Gazette Press, 1881]



    Alice 'Trix' Kipling (afterwards Fleming) was Rudyard's only sibling, and shared with him the traumatic upbringing at what he called the 'House of Desolation' at Southsea, while their parents were in India. She, who spent even longer there than Rudyard, was afterwards to suffer from bouts of mental instability. Schoolboy Lyrics was published in India by Rudyard's parents without his knowledge while he remained away in England, although by now in the more congenial surroundings of the United Services College at Westward Ho!: "Though it was produced without Kipling's knowledge, and though he was embarrassed by it then and afterwards, the book is technically Kipling's first and is now one of the rarissima in his bibliography" (Thomas Pinney, ODNB). (According to Trix's later testimony, when he discovered its publication Rudyard flew into a rage and sulked for three days).

    This copy is accompanied by a letter of 1953 by John P. Orr, offering it for sale to R[obert] Wotherspoon, an Inverness solicitor. Orr states that his father had purchased it from Trix: "As I said to you, it belonged to Kipling's sister a Mrs Fleming from whom my father purchased it many years ago". It seems very likely that, as Orr speculates, the title-page bore an inscription by Kipling to his sister, which would explain why she should, for the sake of propriety, have torn it out before sale.

    David Alan Richards believes that the lettering in our copy is indeed by Kipling and kindly informs us that in his forthcoming bibliography of Kipling, he presents evidence that Schoolboy Lyrics was initially issued in brown wrappers, and that the remaining copies had white wrappers as here. Another copy belonging to Trix in brown wrappers is in the Stewart Collection at Dalhousie University. Some twenty-five copies of each issue are believed to have been printed.

    Also included is an autograph letter signed by Kipling himself, referring to this copy, evidently addressed to Orr Senior (although his name, too, has been blacked out), dated 12 June 1924. Kipling's letter implicitly confirms that this copy had indeed belonged to his sister: "I am sorry not to be able to sign the mutilated copy of Schoolboy Lyrics as you wish. I have often been approached to do this sort of thing but you will realize, on second thoughts, that it is really 'faking' a book to do so./ The suggestion nearly always comes from the auctioneer, to whose advantage it undoubtedly is, but I have never felt that I could accede to this particular form of commercial exploitation./ I noticed that you had got £300 for one book that I must have given Trix when I was a boy./ Thank you very much for your congratulations about Elsie's engagement, and for your news of Trixie".
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