Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Rudyard Kipling
Literary Giant ... But No Geographer

Barry Mayhew

Summer 2021 - Rudyard Kipling


I have long been a devotee of Rudyard Kipling, both for his talent as a novelist and as a poet. With respect to his poetry, my favourite is “On the Road to Mandalay.” But I am sad to say that Mr Kipling has a failing grade when it comes to geographical knowledge.

The first glaring error occurs in the first verse, which begins “By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea.” If you were in the coastal city of Moulmein and looking eastward, what you would observe is the Burmese landscape …


Barry Mayhew was raised in British Columbia and served in management positions in the airline and forest products industries. He has a PhD in Urban Geography. He was appointed Victoria’s first economic development commissioner and was executive director of the Royal Jubilee Hospital Foundation. His work has appeared in a wide variety of magazines and professional journals.  He lives with his wife in Victoria.