One of Simon Grant's interests.

Rudyard Kipling's work

When I was pretty young, I was given a copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories", and my parents read stories from these to me at bedtime. They made a big impression on me. Even now, I am impressed. I still like many of them, and have read them to my children, but I particularly like, and appreciate, "The Butterfly that Stamped", as it is a beautiful portrayal of a loving couple relationship, of course written from its time, 1902, before the full emancipation of women, but if you take off the surface veneer it comes across as not only beautiful, but also very fair.

One of the interesting points is that it not only portrays the royal couple, Suleiman and Balkis, but also common relationships, which are altogether lower and can be expected to be drawn more from society at that time. There seems to me to be a lot of wisdom in the story, and if I ever had to write a personal ad, I think it would include "Suleiman seeks Balkis".

Here is my transcription of "The Butterfly that Stamped", scanned and edited 1999. I believe it's out of copyright, but if I'm mistaken please someone let me know and I'll take it down. You're welcome to copy my version if you like.

There are other transcriptions on the web - the most obvious is one of the complete set of Just So Stories done by Janice (Bucala) Knowlton. I've done things a little differently - I have introduced double quote marks where Kipling used just single, because I think they're more readable, and I have used CSS to get the paragraphs to look more like they do in the book - indented with no margin. I would say my version of the first word of the story is also more robust...

The illustrations (Kipling's own) are very detailed with various amusing points. To get the full detail takes a resolution that does not fit on one screen, and takes many bytes, so I have given a medium-sized version in the text which is linked to a larger version on which you can see just about all the detail.

Though I haven't given an enlargement of the opening illustration ("THIS"), an interesting point that I noted when looking carefully at it is the Masonic symbols associated with Kipling's drawing of Suleiman (Solomon is an important figure for Freemasons). I checked - he was indeed a Freemason (see, e.g. this web page). I was curious about the letters on the sash he is wearing, and checking later I discovered they are indeed significant. The letters that look a bit like the letter "Y" are in fact "T", not "Y", so they are, together, "HTWSSTKS", and stand for (at least according to many) "HIRAM, TYRIAN, WIDOW'S SON, SENDETH TO KING SOLOMON." I discovered this only after I had scanned the story - it puts another light on it...