Monday, 23 November 2009

Rudyard Kipling: His Penholders and Waverley

Around 20 years after Duncan Waverley Cameron invented the Waverley nib, the nib with the narrow waist and upturned point found its way to the hands of the author who was meant to be the youngest (to this day) English writing recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature: Rudyard Kipling. His love of writing was paired with his love of penholders.

Kipling was very particular with his writing equipment and ink supplies: he has "always been choice, not to say coquettish" with his writing instruments. Already as the young editor of The Friend in the 1880s, his cotton trousers and thin vest were spotted with ink and he “had a habit of dipping his pen, frequently and deep into the ink pot”, remembers Charles Cecil. As Rikki-tikkit-tavi, the young mongoose in the Jungle Book would dip his nose into an ink pot in the popular short story from the Jungle Book (1894).

In his Plain Tales from Hills (1888), Kipling would use a “slim, octagonal-sided, agate penholder with a Waverley nib”. Waverley was a nib he enjoyed at that time and probably abode by the MacNiven & Cameron well-known pitch: They come as Boon and a Blessing to Men: The Pickwick, the Owl and the Waverley Pen.

Distraught about his agate penholder snapping, Kipling tried a succession of penholders, each with a Waverley. Until the day came when he “abandoned hand-dipped Waverleys – a nib [he] never changed – and for years wallowed in the pin-pointed “stylo” and its successor the “fountain” which for [him] meant geyser-pens”.

Conway Stewart has produced a Special Edition pen, the Kipling. It is a rich jet black resin pen with solid 18 carat gold trim and an 18 carat gold nib available in seven grades. The Kipling pen is engraved with two famous Kipling poems, If  and The Elephant Child.

See Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself, Wordsworth Editions 2008; Charles Cecil, Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936, J.Hewetson & Son: London.

Post Scriptum: Object at Inklinks on February 1, 2012: Macniven & Cameron Waverley Pen tin box.

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