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Ruskin Bond: A Pioneer of Children Literature in India

by Gulnaz Fatima
(Aligarh, UP)

Ruskin Bond is a well known Indian Writer in English. He has written more than hundred short-stories, six novels, three collections of verse and over thirty books for children. Ruskin Bond received Sahitya Academy award for his book “Our Trees Still Grow at Dehra” in 1992, and was honored with title “Padam Shree” in 1999, for his life time contribution to Indian literature in English. He has been writing for the last fifty years in different genres of literature.


Ruskin Bond is considered a pioneer of children literature in India. Ruskin Bond came close to children’s literature. Since Ruskin Bond liked his boyhood very much therefore all his children stories whether autobiographical or semi- autobiographical expressed his longing for a happy childhood. Ruskin Bond likes children because they are more frank, open minded and emotional. According to Ruskin Bond two children can become good friends merely by exchanging a piece of marble, a coin, a doll and bangles. Children do not like the restraints put on them by their elders. Ruskin Bond loves children because they are not deceptive. All children love freedom, jumping in pools, climbing on trees, and are always curios to know about their surroundings so Ruskin Bond is more close to children of the world.

Ruskin Bond had published many casual short stories for children in magazines and newspapers in India and abroad, but he started to write regularly for children when he uprooted himself from Delhi to Mussorie. After moving to Ivy Cottage, as a grandfather to Prem Singh's children he is constantly writing children stories, to amuse his adopted grand children, Rakesh, Mukesh, and Savitri. Through Writing children's stories he also fulfilled his own unfulfilled wishes and longings as a child. He writes in Scenes from a Writer's Life that "I don't suppose I would have written so much about childhood or even about other children if my own childhood had been all happiness and light" (4). Ruskin Bond focuses on entertaining young readers. Ruskin Bond's pleasant attitude toward childhood is strongly influenced by his adolescent reading of the British and Indian Romantic poets; as poetry of Rabindranath Tagore; simple attitude of Raja Rao, R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand; and depiction of an Indian childhood in the major works of Sudhin Ghoshe. He follows the romantic views of Wordsworth, Shelly, and Coleridge. He sees dignity in the daily experiences and in the understated lifestyle of the people who live in the hilly Garhwali’s towns and villages.

Ruskin Bond does not like the traditional children stories of India but he prefers stories like “Maugli” by Rudyard Kipling. Ruskin Bond’s art of characterization is unique and different from others although many critics find fault with him for being autobiographical and subjective but Ruskin Bond can be defended by comparing him with Charles Lamb. Ruskin Bond’s characters are both types and individuals and most of them represent the middle class. Ruskin Bond like Maugham chose characters from his own surroundings neither abstract nor based on his imagination. The rich and poor, small and grown up, vendor, trader, schoolboy, gardener, all are portrayed in their respective way of living. Some of his characters resemble his father, Somi, Mr. Kapoor, Meena, caricatures like Rusty, Kishan, and some others are adjusted in the fictional world.

His book for children, The Hidden Pool, is a collection of short stories. The Hidden Pool, is the story of three friends, Laurie, Anil and Kamal. Laurie is the son of a British engineer in India and Anil and Kamal are his Indian friends, who introduce him to the festivals, foods, and traditions of India. Laurie finds out a hidden pool in the mountains which varnishes their friendship. Hidden Pool, is the place where they swim, wrestle, and make plans a trip to a glacier at 12,000 feet above sea level. Ruskin Bond's another children's book, Grandfather's Private Zoo, is a collection of ten short stories that had been published at an earlier time in a various magazines and newspapers, some of these stories are written in the early 1960s in Delhi. The collection of the stories refers the happy times which Ruskin Bond had spent at his grandmother's house in Dehra, in these stories he takes the theme from the statements, heard through the people of village about his Grandfather, Clerk’s fondness for unusual house pets. Ruskin Bond presents the book in first person narration as an autobiography, only to make it authentic.

He respected all religions reflected through the characters of his stories that belong to different sects, culture, and religions. Ruskin Bond regarded India and Indians superior to western civilized individuals. Many of his stories are direct satire on western culture and civilization. In India he found humanism whereas western people have become only a machine of amassing wealth. India is the land of fables because here in India children are fond of listening to stories related by their grandparents before going to sleep.

Ruskin Bond got success as a writer for adults, and then he became interested in writing stories about children. In his introduction to The Night Train at Deoli and other Stories he writes that in the 1970s, when he was facing all kind of problems, his stories relating to children coped with the difficult situation. Earlier he had written a few stories for children and published in magazines and newspapers in India and abroad, but while in Mussorie, after shifting to his new home, Ivy Cottage he started writing more frequently for children as he played the role of grandfather to Prem Singh’s children. He was always thinking of new stories to tell Rakesh, Mukesh and Savitri. His innovation was to make children protagonist in his stories. Also these stories satisfied his own urge and desire to write about his lost childhood. He writes in ‘Scenes from a Writer’s Life’ to the following effect:

“I don’t suppose I have written so much about children if my own childhood had been all happiness and light. I do not find that those who have contended, normal childhood, seldom remember much about them; nor do they have much insight into the world of childhood”.

Fortunately, his trauma was channelized toward children’s classics, which gave an outlet to his own agonies. Ruskin Bond found a resemblance with David Copperfield who sustained himself in an unfriendly world. The thought that children are rarely given attention by their elders, made him more sympathetic towards them. The children he came across in villages, their every day experiences suggested themes for his stories. Ruskin Bond always enjoyed their company. Ruskin Bond’s children stories can be put into two categories: “personal and impersonal ones”. Personal stories are autobiographical or semi- autobiographical in tone, where he records his own reflections, unfulfilled passions and small adventures. These are stories like “My Father’s Trees in Dehra”, The Funeral, When I can’t Climb Anymore, The Tiger in the House, The Playing Fields of Shimla, Life with Uncle Ken, the Cherry Tree, The Last Tonga Ride, Coming Home to Dehra, All Creatures Great And Small, The Tree Lover. These stories show young Ruskin Bond’s affinity with trees and pets and his love for the town, Dehra. He was deeply attached to the places where he spent his childhood; hence his stories are nostalgic and vivid bringing to life and charming little places, colonial bungalows and fruit laden orchards where he wandered about as a boy. His stories for children reflect his rich imagination.

References:

1. Bond, Ruskin. “Rain in the Mountain” New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd. 1993,

2. Bond, Ruskin. Complete Short Stories and Novels. New Delhi: Viking/Penguin, 1996.

3. Bond, Ruskin. The Best of Ruskin Bond “My Father’s Trees in Dehra” New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd. 1994,

4. Bond, Ruskin."Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright." Panther's Moon and Other Stories, New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd. 1994,

5. Bond, Ruskin. “The Night Train at Deoli and other stories” New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd. 1988,

6. Bond, Ruskin. "Love Is a Sad Song" Complete Short Stories and Novels. New Delhi: Viking/Penguin, 1996.

7. Bond, Ruskin. “The Sensualist” Complete Short Stories and Novels. New Delhi: Viking/Penguin, 1996.

8. Ruskin, Bond. “Scenes From a Writer’s Life”, New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 1997.

Comments for Ruskin Bond: A Pioneer of Children Literature in India

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Jun 09, 2017
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fantastic
by: adarsh panda

😊😊😊😊😊😊☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

Oct 21, 2015
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fabulous
by: Victor

Dear Dr Fatma,
Thank you very much for your research and writings. they are immense source of knowledge and above all they taught us about the future of society. Children plays a vital role in society. Today's child is tomorrow future maker. I owe a special thank to you and to the writer who started to writing for the children. His (Mr. Ruskin Bond) stories are very helpful to understand the current scenario of society and the mindset too.

thanks once again!
Sincerely
Victor

Oct 20, 2015
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good post
by: topessaywriting-services

Gulnaz Fatima is a Indian writer. She wrote thousand of stories, novels and books and especially she like to cover Children related issues or topics. A Pioneer of Children Literature help to know the importance of children for the society and country as well. Either these are girls or boys. We should give equal right to both of them. No think that Boys superior than girls because that thinking destroy the peace and whole society as well.

Oct 02, 2015
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Wonderful post
by: Name

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.
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Sep 19, 2015
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Ruskin Bond
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Very big detail post about to Ruskin Bond life and books details children literature in India country is big country In the world great post.
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Sep 18, 2015
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Great
by: Jack

My favorite subject english and ruskin bond is a good writer. I am happy to see this post and website.
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Sep 18, 2015
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I want to say thanks for this information
by: clark

In this post the writer gives us much information about the literature of India. I want to say thanks for this information. keep it up and share more post on this page keep it up -
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Aug 05, 2015
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Jul 31, 2015
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Jul 30, 2015
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by: John

It is deligthful to read this post and i get many useful point through this post. Please keep posting such kind of post brook hill.

Aug 13, 2014
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Children story books
by: miranalini

I found this both entertaining and en thrilling..i am a big fan of Hindi Panchatantra Stories have you consider writing about it.

Jun 28, 2014
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Additional reading
by: Lakshmi

For additional reading about Ruskin Bond -

Ruskin Bond - India's lovable author of children


Apr 01, 2014
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hi Gulnaz
by: Prachi

Dear Gulnaz
Your write ups on Mr Bond are very important as I am also doing research on Mr.Bond,My Topic for thesis is" Interpersonal relationships in the children literature of Ruskin Bond and Erich Kaestner"(German Writer).Could you pl help me as I did'nt find many books on the topic?
Prachi.

Feb 26, 2014
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excellent
by: sheetal

Hi....its too good to know more information in a very simple language about Ruskin Bond.my research is also going on Analytical study of child psychology in Ruskin Bonds writing so plz can u give me some guidance about dat? I m a fresher student so i dont know how to do?n what to do?


Thanks....

Sep 30, 2013
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awesome
by: kunal sahane

aaaaaaaawsome

Jul 26, 2012
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THANKS TO ALL
by: GULNAZ

THANKS TO ALL FOR YOUR VALUABLE COMMENTS AND APPRICIATIONS. I AM ALSO WRITING A BOOK ON MR RUSKIN BOND: A MAN AND WRITER.

Jul 06, 2012
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Congrets
by: Mohd. Aerif

Hi Golu,
Congratulations for your paper........
Its really amazing, I am also a fan of Ruskin Bond.I have read Room on the Roof, a novella by him

Jul 06, 2012
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THANKS
by: Gulnaz

Thank a lot dear.......

Jul 06, 2012
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Ruskin Bond: Pioneer of Children's Sories in India
by: Eva Bell

Ruskin Bond is as lovable as his characters. You have given us a lot of information about his life and work. Thank You.

Jul 05, 2012
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Informative and enlightening
by: Jitendra Mathur

Your post is informative and enlightening regarding the pioneering work of Ruskin Bond in the children's literature. And yes, you are right that a person with a deprived childhood only could create this much and so much.

I have read his long story whose name features at no. 6 in your list of references - 'Love is a Sad Song' which is not a children's story but something unforgettable all the same.

Hearty compliments for this post.

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