The Light That Failed by Rudyard Kipling


It is Kipling’s first novel, written when he was 26 years old. The novel is semi-autobiographical, being based upon his own unrequited love for Florence Garrard.


Light Failed — It is Kipling’s first semi-autobiographical novel.

Light Failed, author written when he was 26 years old. Novel based upon his own unrequited love for Florence Garrard.

Kipling’s novel was published in 1890. The most of the novel is set in London. But many important events throughout the story occur in Sudan or India. The novel follows the adventures of Dick Heldar, a painter who goes blind.

By the time Kipling returned to England in 1889, he was well on this way to literary fame due to his successful short stories. He began to write “The Light That Failed” on a very short deadline of three months. The novel’s inspiration was his failed relationship with Florence Garrard. He met her when he was raised with his sister in Southsea.

Kipling remained in touch with Garrard after returning to India to work as a reporter, corresponding with her over letters. She later terminated their relationship after two years, leaving Kipling devastated as he had believed himself engaged to her. He met her again in 1890 in London and attempted to reignite their relationship. He also visited her in Paris where she was studying in the Académie Julian.

The story begins with Dick and Maisie as orphan children in a seaside boarding house under the care of Mrs. Jennet. Dick confesses his infatuation with Maisie but she informs him that she would soon be leaving to complete her education.


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