(Above) The Jungle Book discovered in the Library of Wimpole Hall. © NT
A rare first edition of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book – with a poignant handwritten inscription by the author to his young daughter – has been discovered during a three-year project to catalogue the extensive library at the National Trust’s Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.
The book, which Kipling dedicated to his youngest daughter Josephine when it was published in 1894, contains the inscription "this book belongs to Josephine Kipling for whom it was written by her father, May 1894”. Josephine died of pneumonia five years later at the age of six.
Rudyard Kipling in 1900 by John Collier. © NTPL
"There are nearly 7,000 books in the Wimpole library and this has been a big project to catalogue them all properly," said Mark Purcell, the National Trust's Libraries Curator.
"But as one of the nation's favourite children's books of all time, this first edition of the Jungle Book with its rare inscription is very special."
The book, which has gone on public display at Wimpole, is from a collection which belonged to Kipling's second daughter, Elsie Bambridge, who lived at her marital home of Wimpole Hall between 1938 and 1976.
It is thought that Elsie brought her collection of books with her, including the book dedicated to her sister, when she moved to Wimpole after the sale of the Kipling family home, Bateman's, to the National Trust in the 1930s.
The Kipling children. © NT
"This inscription is very touching, especially when you consider that Kipling lost not only Josephine, but also his youngest child, John, who died in the Great War," added Fiona Hall, Curator at Wimpole Hall. "As Kipling's only remaining child, Elsie would have really treasured this book."
The cataloguing at Wimpole is part of a long-term project across 160 National Trust properties, with more than 155,000 historic books already recorded on an online database, available for anyone to access. The catalogue is shown on the website of the specialist academic library catalogue, COPAC - http://copac.ac.uk/libraries/nationaltrust.html