Kipling, who as a novelist dramatized the ambivalence of the British colonial experience, was born of English parents in Bombay and as a child knew Hindustani better than English. He spent an unhappy period of exile from his parents (and the Indian heat) with a harsh aunt in England, followed by the public schooling that inspired his "Stalky" stories. He returned to India at 18 to work on the staff of the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette and rapidly became a prolific writer. His mildly satirical work won him a reputation in England, and he returned there in 1889. Shortly after, his first novel, The Light That Failed (1890) was published, but it was not altogether successful.
In the early 1890s, Kipling met and married Caroline Balestier and moved with her to her family's estate in Brattleboro, Vermont. While there he wrote Many Inventions (1893), The Jungle Book (1894-95), and Captains Courageous (1897). He became dissatisfied with life in America, however, and moved back to England, returning to America only when his daughter died of pneumonia. Kipling never again returned to the United States, despite his great popularity there.
Short stories form the greater portion of Kipling's work and are of several distinct types. Some of his best are stories of the supernatural, the eerie and unearthly, such as "The Phantom Rickshaw," "The Brushwood Boy," and "They." His tales of gruesome horror include "The Mark of the Beast" and "The Return of Imray." "William the Conqueror" and "The Head of the District" are among his political tales of English rule in India. The "Soldiers Three" group deals with Kipling's three musketeers: an Irishman, a Cockney, and a Yorkshireman. The Anglo-Indian Tales, of social life in Simla, make up the larger part of his first four books.