Thursday, 26 November 2009

Writing Supplies of Famous Authors: Rudyard Kipling, Stationery and Gadgets

Many writers are particular about their writing supplies and their choice of stationery and gadgets on the work table. The photo of Kipling's study in the Guardian's wonderful series "Writers Rooms", shows a large French walnut table filled with the famous author's writing supplies, stationery and gadgets of choice. "My work table", writes Kipling in his memoirs, "was ten feet long from North to South and badly congested".

Writing Supplies: Pen Holders

Kipling's pen holders had always a Waverley nib attached to them. While writing his Plain Tales the famous writer used a slim, octagonal, agate pen holder; when that broke, a "procession of impersonal hirelings each with a Waverley", next a disappointing silver pen holder with a quill-like curve. Finally, he abandoned pen holders and Waverley nibs for ballpoint and fountain pens.

A "slim, smooth, black treasure" of a pen he picked in Jerusalem he grew attached to in later years. But he did not like lead pencils, probably because he used them while working as a newspaper reporter. His large pewter ink pot he had bought from Villiers Street, where he rented rooms from 1889-1891.

Rudyard Kipling's Stationery and Gadgets

For paper Kipling used large, off-white, blue sheets of which he "was most wasteful". And he always kept certain "gadgets" on his work table. According to his memoirs, among the stationery and gadgets Kipling had on his desk was:
  • a lacquered canoe-shaped pen tray full of brushes and fountain pens
  • two boxes, one wooden one that held clips and bands and a tin one for pins
  • a paper weight "said to have been Warren Hasting's", the first governor of British India
  • a tiny, weighted fur seal and a leather crocodile that served as a paper weight
  • an inky foot rule
  • a pen-wiper, replaced with a new one every year by his housemaid
All these items of stationery and "gadgets" Kipling calls them in his memoirs, "little fetishes".  As for the way he treated books, the famous author admitted that although he possessed many penknives he used his forefinger to cut through the uncut pages of books. Some books were put in a locked case, the others "took their chances".


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