Kipling’s Vermont

For those of you who didn’t know, author Rudyard Kipling had a passion for Vermont. He first came to the green state in 1892 to visit the family estate of his young American wife, Caroline Starr Balestier. The two had just been married in London and had a baby on the way. Upon arrival in the US they decided to stay and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for $10 a month. This was where Kipling would draw up the first sketches for the Jungle Books. Yet when their first daughter was born, the cottage became cramped so they purchased property from Kipling’s brother in law. Kipling then designed and had built a grand Victorian estate. He named the home Naulakha as an homage to his novel of the same name, a collaborative work of fiction with close friend Wolcott Balestier (also a brother to his wife). While living in Naulakha, Kipling wrote some of his best work, including the Jungle Books, Kim, and Captains Courageous. Kipling fondly called the secluded dark shingled house his “ship” which brought him “sunshine and a mind at ease”. He was fascinated by the outdoors and the beauty of Vermont, especially in the fall with the turning of the leaves. The family grew to love the state and may have very well lived out their years there, but tensions in their marriage and conflict between the US and UK seemed to have drove them back to England and they left Naulakha for good in 1896.

In 1993 Naulakha was declared as one of 17 National Historic Landmarks in Vermont. Lucky for us, the Landmark Trust facilitates rental of the property, which comfortably sleeps up to 8. During your vacation you can play tennis on the state’s first court or swim in the Connecticut River. If you’re visiting in winter, why not try skiing in the meadow where the sport was first introduced to Vermont. It’s an estate with a lot of monumental firsts, which is only fitting considering Kipling invented activities like wintertime golf in his time away from writing novels.

Editor’s note: Thanks to James Fox for sending me the video above and reminding me of this incredible property in our home state. The video is by Kate Sears during a video course with The Hills Workshops.


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