...as Kipling's `pile of rubbish' goes on sale

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The Independent Online
Previously unpublished letters and manuscripts by Rudyard Kipling, stolen from him by a disgruntled secretary, go on sale today at a Chichester auction house. The papers give a remarkable insight into one of Britain's most popular authors and are expected to prompt international interest.

Overlooked for almost a century, the documents narrowly escaped destruction when they were discovered in a chest of drawers delivered for a country sale in Sussex. When a carrier delivering the chest inquired "Does anyone want this pile of rubbish from the drawers?" A saleroom porter recognised the two brown paper parcels of documents as a significant collection of a writer's work, containing 40 manuscripts, letters and documents.

They reveal Kipling's dislike for the founder of the Salvation Army, General Booth, his hatred of seeing his work adapted for stage plays and his refusal to allow fox hunting on his land because it might be damaged.

The archive also includes several heavily correction versions of his story With The Night Mail, based on Kipling's sea voyage from the US to England, which appeared in McClure's Magazine in November, 1905. The various versions of the story will be invaluable to students of his work in showing how Kipling revised and re-revised a story before he allowed it to be printed.

Other scripts include two short stories which appeared in the Daily Express of 1900, A Burgher of the Free State and The Way that He Took, as well as an early version of The Outsider with autographed alterations.

His secretary, Miss K E Parker, quit and took the papers from Bateman's, Kipling's country home in Burwash, East Sussex, after complaining he and his wife treated her "like a common typist" while expecting "work of quality".

The collection was bought at a junk sale around 30 years ago by a local collector who lived on the Sussex coast. They were sent to the auction room by the collector's widow.

The author and poet is best known for his poem If, which emerged as Britain's favourite in a national poll last year.

Kipling enthusiasts from the United States and Canada are expected to join many private collectors from Britain bidding for the collection of annotated letters and drafts of short stories.

Two of the main bidders are expected to be the University of Sussex, which has one of the world's largest collections of Kipling's work and possibly the University of Dalhousie, in Canada, which is known to have a substantial holding of Kipling manuscripts.

Leonie Ormond, Professor of Victorian Studies at the University of London said: "I think it's very exciting, absolutely riveting."

Lisa Lewis, meeting secretary of the Kipling society, said the writer and his wife would authorise some versions of his work that were different than what was published, but never marked with his handwriting.

Instead, they would give leather-bound volumes of material to universities and others: "Mrs Kipling was a bit of a control freak."