Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City plays Rudyard Kipling’s American wife in My Boy Jack, a televised version of a play about the writer and his vulnerable son, tonight on PBS. Who was Carrie Kipling?
V. S. Pritchett wrote in a review of Angus Wilson’s biography, The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling, which appears in Pritchett’s Compete Collected Essays:
“She was certainly very domineering – and like many dominant people was liable to hysteria which her prisoner was called upon to calm. She was certainly, once more, a stern mother-figure. He was incompetent with money. She managed his financial affairs, his contracts, his correspondence. She is said to have opened all his letters and to have dictated the replies. Her daughter said she cut her husband off from stimulating intellectual company and indeed she was out of her depth in it. But she fiercely protected his privacy and stood between him and the plague of visitors who descend like vultures on famous men; if Kipling was cut off from his coevals, he was cut off chiefly by his wealth: his friends were the successful and important. She was suspicious by nature, particularly of women, and seems to have felt many people were really after his money. But Kipling appeared to enjoy her rule, for he had been used to an excessive reliance on his parents, even in middle life. Visitors noticed that Rudyard and his Carrie enjoyed the same harsh jokes.
“She probably enjoyed hearing that the female of the species was more deadly than the male. Possibly he would not have married her unless he had loved her charming brother first and more spontaneously — he responded most to family affection — and one must remember that he and Carrie had the tragic bond of the loss of their two children and that she nursed her misogynist through his serious breakdowns and his hysterical, baseless, but harrowing dread of cancer. No; brought up in a tough school, Kipling found a tough wife.”
My Boy Jack is a Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theater) production www.pbs.org written by David Haig and based on his play. It also stars Haig as Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Radcliffe as his son and Jack, shown with Cattrall in a PBS photo.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.