The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

Alice MacDonald Fleming (Alice "Trix" Kipling)

Alice MacDonald Fleming (1868-1948), who sometimes published as Beatrice Kipling and who was known by her family as "Trix," is the daughter of Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald Kipling and sister of Rudyard Kipling. She wrote prolifically in the 1890s, and her writings about British India serve as an important counterpoint to Rudyard's more male-centered perspective on the British colonial experience. While her writings bear certain similarities to Rudyard's, Fleming can also be profitably compared to other Anglo-Indian writers who depicted Anglo-Indian life in the 1890s and early 1900s, including Flora Annie Steel (best known for On the Face of the Waters), Maud Diver (author of numerous 'Imperial Romances'), and Sara Jeannette Duncan (a Canadian writer who settled in Calcutta and authored numerous novels set in Anglo-India, including The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib). 

Along with her more famous brother, Fleming wrote poems and short stories connected to Anglo-Indian life. She was educated for several years in England in parallel with her brother. Alice returned to India in 1883, and settled into an established family household in Lahore, where Lockwood Kipling was the principal of the Mayo School of Arts and Crafts. Fleming began collaborating with Rudyard on early projects such as Echoes (1884), Quartette (1885), and Plain Tales from the Hills (1886-7). 

She married Jack Fleming in 1889, a man ten years her senior, and who worked with the Survey of India. Though biographers do not have a great deal of first-hand knowledge about the state of the marriage, it can be inferred from Alice Fleming's fictional writings that the marriage was not a happy one. Fleming published her first novel The Heart of a Maid, under the name Beatrice Grange, in 1890, on the same "Indian Railway Series" that published so many early Rudyard Kipling stories between 1887 and 1890. (In subsequent editions of The Heart of a Maid, Fleming's name would sometimes be given as "Beatrice Kipling.") In the mid-1890s, the Flemings relocated to England, where, they would remain. 

In 1897, Fleming published a second novel set in Anglo-India, A Pinchbeck Goddess, under the name "Mrs. J.M. Fleming"; this novel was an expanded version of a short story Fleming originally published in the Civil & Military Gazette under the "Plain Tales From the Hills" header. Between about 1898 and 1901, Fleming suffered from a deep depression (some biographers have described it as a schizophrenic break); her husband resisted having her treated by professional psychologists. In 1901, Fleming collaborated with her mother to produce a volume of poetry, Hand in Hand: Verses by a Mother and a Daughter. There is also a listing for a third novel, Her Brother's Keeper, with Longman publishers in London in 1901, but it is possible that Fleming only intended to publish a short story, "Her Brother's Keeper," in Longman's Magazine in 1902. 

According to biographers, in her later life Fleming grew intensely interested in the occult, claiming the gift of "second sight." She continued to write after 1902, but much of her writing was dedicated to magazines oriented to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). (The SPR was a widely respected organization in the 1890s and early 1900s; the British Prime Minister, A. J. Balfour actually spoke at an SPR meeting in 1894 and believed a deceased lover, Mary Lyttleton was communicating with him from beyond the grave.) Biographers have indicated that, due to family disapproval, Fleming wrote under the name "Mrs. Holland" in magazines published by the SPR, though these writings have not (yet) been recovered by scholars. Fleming was also intensely engaged in automatic writing; many of her experiments were later destroyed. 

A number of Fleming's unpublished manuscripts and typescripts have been collected by Lorna Lee in the volume, Trix: Kipling's Forgotten Sister (2004). After her brother's death in 1936, Fleming was involved in the Kipling Society, where she helped to rebuild her brother's tarnished reputation as an author. Alice MacDonald Fleming died in 1948. 

Writings by Alice MacDonald Fleming on this Site:

Echoes (1884; collaborative volume produced with Rudyard Kipling)

Quartette (1885; collaborative volume with a single short story, "The Haunted Cabin," contributed by Alice Kipling)

Plain Tales From the Hills (1886-7; short stories first published in the Civil & Military Gazette without attribution; most are by Rudyard Kipling, but several, including "Love-In-a-Mist", "How it Happened", and an early version of "A Pinchbeck Goddess," are almost certainly written by Alice Kipling)

"A Woman of Seasons" (Pall Mall Gazette, 1895)

"At a Christmas Ball" (Black & White, Christmas 1892) 

"The Little Pink House" (Pall Mall Gazette, August 1894)

"Journey in the Jungle" (Allahabad Pioneer, February 21, 1897)

"Her Brother's Keeper" (Longman's Magazine, May 1902)

Forthcoming in the near future: 

The Heart of a Maid (1891)

A Pinchbeck Goddess (novel published in 1897)

Hand in Hand: Verses by a Mother and a Daughter (1901)

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