The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book
Embossed cover from the original edition of The Jungle Book based on art by John Lockwood Kipling
Author Rudyard Kipling
Illustrator John Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard's father)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Jungle Books
Genre Children's book
Publisher Macmillan Publishers
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Preceded by "In the Rukh"
Followed by The Second Jungle Book

The Jungle Book (1894) is a collection of stories by English author Rudyard Kipling. The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94. The original publications contain illustrations, some by Rudyard's father, John Lockwood Kipling. Kipling was born in India and spent the first six years of his childhood there. After about ten years in England, he went back to India and worked there for about six-and-a-half years. These stories were written when Kipling lived in Vermont.1 There is evidence that it was written for his daughter Josephine, who died in 1899 aged six, after a rare first edition of the book with a poignant handwritten note by the author to his young daughter was discovered at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire in 2010.2

The tales in the book (and also those in The Second Jungle Book which followed in 1895, and which includes five further stories about Mowgli) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons. The verses of The Law of the Jungle, for example, lay down rules for the safety of individuals, families and communities. Kipling put in them nearly everything he knew or "heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle."3 Other readers have interpreted the work as allegories of the politics and society of the time.4 The best-known of them are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned "man cub" Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. The most famous of the other stories are probably "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", the story of a heroic mongoose, and "Toomai of the Elephants", the tale of a young elephant-handler. As with much of Kipling's work, each of the stories is preceded by a piece of verse, and succeeded by another.

The Jungle Book, because of its moral tone, came to be used as a motivational book by the Cub Scouts, a junior element of the Scouting movement. This use of the book's universe was approved by Kipling after a direct petition of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, who had originally asked for the author's permission for the use of the Memory Game from Kim in his scheme to develop the morale and fitness of working-class youths in cities. Akela, the head wolf in The Jungle Book, has become a senior figure in the movement, the name being traditionally adopted by the leader of each Cub Scout pack.


The complete book, having passed into the public domain, is on-line at Project Gutenberg's official website and elsewhere. Each of the even-numbered items below is an epigrammatic poem related to the previous story.

  1. "Mowgli's Brothers": A boy is raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, and then has to fight the tiger Shere Khan. This story has also been published as a short book in its own right: Night-Song in the Jungle
  2. "Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack"
  3. "Kaa's Hunting": This story takes place before Mowgli fights Shere Khan. When Mowgli is abducted by monkeys, Baloo and Bagheera set out to rescue him with the aid of Chil the Kite and Kaa the python. Maxims of Baloo.
  4. "Road Song of the Bandar-Log"
  5. "Tiger! Tiger!": Mowgli returns to the human village and is adopted by Messua and her husband who believe him to be their long-lost son Nathoo. But he has trouble adjusting to human life, and Shere Khan still wants to kill him. The story's title is taken from the poem "The Tyger" by William Blake.
  6. "Mowgli's Song"
  7. "The White Seal": Kotick, a rare white-furred Northern fur seal, searches for a new home for his people, where they will not be hunted by humans. The "animal language" words and names in this story are a phonetic spelling of Russian spoken with an Aleut accent, for example the hero's name "Kotick" (Котик) is an affectionate diminutive of "cat" (Кот); also "Stareek!" (Старик!) means "old man!", "Ochen scoochnie" (said by Kotick) to mean "I am very lonesome" is the phonetic pronunciation of Очень скучный which actually means "very boring". Likewise, "holluschick" (plural -ie) is "холостяк", (pl. -и) which means "bachelor" and is used in the story for "unmarried" young adult seals.
  8. "Lukannon"
  9. "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi": Rikki-Tikki the mongoose defends a human family living in India against a pair of cobras. This story has also been published as a short book.
  10. "Darzee's Chaunt"
  11. "Toomai of the Elephants": Toomai, a ten-year-old boy who helps to tend working elephants, is told that he will never be a full-fledged elephant-handler until he has seen the elephants dance. This story has also been published as a short book.
  12. "Shiv and the Grasshopper"
  13. "Her Majesty's Servants" (originally titled "Servants of the Queen"): On the night before a military parade a British soldier eavesdrops on a conversation between the camp animals.
  14. "Parade-Song of the Camp Animals" parodies several well-known songs and poems, including Bonnie Dundee.


In alphabetical order:


The book's text has often been abridged or adapted for younger readers, and there have also been several comic book adaptations.


  • A comic book series Petit d'homme ("Man Cub") was published in Belgium between 1996 and 2003. Written by Crisse and drawn by Marc N'Guessan and Guy Michel, it resets the stories in a post-apocalyptic world in which Mowgli's friends are humans rather than animals: Baloo is an elderly doctor, Bagheera is a fierce African woman warrior and Kaa is a former army sniper.
  • Marvel Comics published several Jungle Book adaptations by Mary Jo Duffy and Gil Kane in the pages of Marvel Fanfare (vol. 1). These strips were collected in the 2007 one-shot Marvel Illustrated: The Jungle Book.
  • The DC Comics Elseworlds' story, "Superman: The Feral Man of Steel", is based loosely on the Jungle Book stories, as well as the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan stories. The infant Superman, like Mowgli, is raised by wolves, and takes the name K'l'l. Bagheera, Akela, and Shere Khan all make appearances. The character is later given the civilised name of 'Clark' by Lois Lane, and is captured along with his friends, and used for profit by Lex Luthor, who is also eventually slain.5
  • Bill Willingham's Eisner Award-winning comic book series Fables, published by Vertigo Comics, features the Jungle Book's Mowgli, Bagheera and Shere Khan; though their characterisation remains true to Kipling's stories, Willingham and artist Mark Buckingham also make oblique references to the 1967 Disney animation in dialogue and artwork. The series amalgamates characters from fairy tales and folklore, as well as children's literature; Shere Kahn, for instance, is shot dead by Snow White, whilst Mowgli is employed as a spy by Big Bad Wolf.
  • Zenescope Entertainment released The Jungle Book as a five-part comics miniseries under their Grimm Fairy Tales label in 2012, followed by The Jungle Book: Last of the Species miniseries in 2013.


Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is inspired by The Jungle Book. It follows a baby boy who is found and brought up by the dead in a cemetery. It has many scenes that can be directly linked back to Kipling, but with Gaiman's dark twist. Mr. Gaiman has spoken in some detail about this on his website.6

Live-action film


Walt Disney Animation Studios' 1967 animated film version, inspired by the Mowgli stories, was extremely popular, though it took great liberties with the plot, characters and the pronunciation of the characters' names. These characterisations were further used in the 1990 animated series TaleSpin, which featured several anthropomorphic characters loosely based on those from the film in a comic aviation-industry setting. After the film's success, DisneyToon Studios later produced a theatrical sequel, The Jungle Book 2', in 2003.

Heroes of the Soviet animation film on a postal stamp of Russia
  • In 1967, another animated adaptation was released in the Soviet Union called Mowgli (Russian: Маугли; published as Adventures of Mowgli in the USA), also known as the 'heroic' version of the story. Five animated shorts of about 20 minutes each were released between 1967 and 1971, and combined into a single 96-minute feature film in 1973. It's also very close to the book's storyline, and one of the few adaptations which has Bagheera as a female panther. It also features stories from The Second Jungle Book, such as Red Dog and a simplified version of The King's Ankus. "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" has also been released in 1965 as a cartoon ([1]) and in 1976 as a feature film. The former made its way into the hearts of viewers and is even now sometimes aired by TV stations of the Former Soviet Union countries as a classic of Soviet animation. Interestingly, in keeping with Soviet ideology, the Colonial English family in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi has been replaced with an Indian family.
  • Chuck Jones's made for-TV cartoons Mowgli's Brothers, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal stick to the original storylines more closely than most adaptations.141516
  • There was a Japanese anime television series called Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli broadcast in 1989. Its adaptation represents a compromise between the original stories and the Walt Disney version. Many of Kipling's stories are adapted into the series, but many elements are combined and changed to suit more modern sensibilities. For instance, Akela, the wolf pack alpha eventually steps aside, but instead of being threatened with death, he stays on as the new leader's advisor. Also, there is an Indian family in the series which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi as a pet mongoose. Finally at the series' conclusion, Mowgli leaves the jungle for human civilisation, but still keeps strong ties with his animal friends.
    • The Japanese anime was dubbed in Hindi and telecast as Jungle Book by Doordarshan in India during the early 1990s. The Indian version featured original music by Vishal Bharadwaj (with words by noted lyricist Gulzar and Nana Patekar doing the voice over for Sher Khan), which made it quite popular among television viewers of that time.
    • The anime was also dubbed in Arabic under the title "فتى الأدغال " (Fatā al Adghāl: Boy of the Jungle) and became a hit with Arab viewers in the 1990s.


  • A Hungarian musical was composed by László Dés, lyrics by Péter Geszti and Pál Békés. The musical was first performed in 1996 in Budapest and is still running today in many Hungarian theatres. It won the prize of the Hungarian Theatre Critics as the musical of the year in 1996.
  • Stuart Paterson wrote a stage adaptation in 2004, first produced by the Birmingham Old Rep in 2004 and published in 2007 by Nick Hern Books.17
  • In 2006 the Orlando Shakespeare Theater commissioned a unique adaptation for their Theater For Young Audiences series. With Book and Lyrics by April-Dawn Gladu and Music and Lyrics by Daniel Levy, this version explores the joy and pain felt by his two mothers, the human Messua and Raksha the wolf, and stresses the benefits of community and compassion. The music is distinctly Indian in nature with two of the seven songs sung in Hindi. It has since been produced by Imagination Stage in MD, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Brigham Young University, and dozens of community and collegiate theatres. It is published by
  • A dance adaptation by the Boom Kat Dance Company premiered on 2 May 2008 at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica, California. It was choreographed by the company with artistic direction by Lili Fuller, Marissa Goodhill, Emily Iscoff-Daigian and Adam North.
  • A new adaptation written by Leonard Joseph Dunham was premiered by the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in Fullerton, California, on 12 September 2008.18
  • Art rock adaptation The Third Jungle Book from Progres 2. The Jungle story is extended about the jungle of civilisation. English version 1981.
  • The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough is performing a brand new musical version of the much loved story for the 2009 Christmas season.



Australian composer Percy Grainger, an avid Kipling reader wrote a Jungle Book cycle, which was published in 1958.


A letter written and signed by Rudyard Kipling in 1895 was put up for auction in 2013 by Andrusier. In this letter, Kipling confesses plagiarism in the 'Jungle Book'. "I am afraid that all that code in its outlines has been manufactured to meet 'the necessities of the case': though a little of it is bodily taken from (Southern) Esquimaux rules for the division of spoils," Kipling wrote in the letter. "In fact, it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen."21

See also


  1. ^ Rao, K. Bhaskara (1967) Rudyard Kipling's India. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press
  2. ^ "Kipling first edition with author's poignant note found". BBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2013
  3. ^ The Long Recessional: the Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, David Gilmour, Pimlico, 2003 ISBN 0-7126-6518-8
  4. ^ Hjejle, Benedicte 1983 'Kipling, Britisk Indien og Mowglihistorieine', Feitskrifi til Kristof Glamann, edited by Ole Fddbek and Niels Thomson. Odense, Denmark: Odense Universitetsforlag. pp. 87–114.
  5. ^ Superman Annual No.6 (1994)
  6. ^ Neil Gaiman's Journal, February 13, 2008
  7. ^ "BBC, Pathe team for 'Jungle Book' – Entertainment News, Film News, Media – Variety". Variety. 
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike (6 March 2014). "Idris Elba To Provide The Roar In Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  9. ^ 'Jungle Book' Live-Action Reboot in the Works at Disney (Exclusive)
  10. ^ Jon Favreau In Talks To Helm New Disney Adaptation Of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’
  11. ^ "Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o in Talks for Disney's 'Jungle Book'". 23 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (February 14, 2014). "Ron Howard in Talks to Direct Warner Bros.' 'The Jungle Book' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  13. ^ "Andy Serkis to Direct ‘Jungle Book’ for Warner Bros.". 20 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "The White Seal (TV 1975) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (TV 1975) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Mowgli's Brothers (TV 1976) – IMDB". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Stuart Paterson – complete guide to the Playwright and Plays
  18. ^ Hunger Artists – Show Archives
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Flood, Alison (31 May 2013). "Rudyard Kipling 'admitted to plagiarism in Jungle Book'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 31 May 2013. 

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