Ruskin Bond was born on the 19th of May 1934 in Kasauli, and over the years lived in both the UK and all over India. His works have been influenced by his early life living at the foothills of the Himalayas.
His first novel, The Room On the Roof, was written when he was 17 and was partly based on his experiences at Dehradun, in a small rented room on a roof.
His first children’s book was The Angry River, published in 1972. On writing for children, Ruskin said, “I had a pretty lonely childhood and it helps me to understand a child better.”
Ruskin has written a series of autobiographical work: Rain in the Mountains, about his years spent in Mussoorie; Scenes from a Writer’s Life based on his life up until he was 21, and Scenes from a Writer’s Life focuses on his English adventures.
“It also tells a lot about my parents”, he says, “The book ends with the publication of my first novel and my decision to make writing my livelihood…Basically, it describes how I became a writer”.
Ruskin has been a prolific and varied author over 50 years, writing fiction, short stories, novella, sprinkled with some autobiographical aspects. He has also written some non-fiction, romance, and children’s literature. On writing essays and short stories he has said how he considers himself a “visual writer” imagining the story like a film and then writing it down.
His inspirations and personal favourite books are Just William by Richmal Crompton, and classics by Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, and Charles Dickens.
Check out a sweet little recording of Ruskin Bond himself reading one of his poems Hip Hop Nature Boy to his audience. The poem is written below for clarity as the sound recording is not brilliant.
Hip Hop Nature Boy by Ruskin Bond
When I was seven,
And climbing trees,
I stepped into a hive of bees.
Badly stung and mad with pain,
I danced the hip-hop in the rain.
Hip-hop, I’m a nature boy,
Mother Nature’s pride and joy!
When I was twelve,
Still climbing trees,
I fell instead-
And landed on my head.
I thought I might become a writer.
Hip-hop, dancing in the rain,
A nature-writer I became!
With Nature being my natural bent,
At twenty I took out my tent,
And spent the night beside a Nadi,
Wearing only vest and chuddee.
At crack of dawn I woke to find
A crocodile was close behind,
And smiling broadly!
In times of crises at my best,
I did not trouble to get dressed,
But fled towards the Gulf of Kutch,
With fond salaams to muggermuch!
Mother Nature once again
Found me dancing on the plain,
Nanga-Panga in the rain!
Growing older, even bolder,
Took a winding mountain trail,
Up a hill and down a dale,
All to see a mountain-quail.
The quail was extinct, long expired,
I was limping, very tired;
Thought I saw a comfy cot
In the corner of a hut.
Feeling grateful, I sank down
Upon a blanket soft as down.
Blanket rose up all at once,
Gave a shudder, then a pounce.
Stumbling in the darkness there,
I’d be disturbed a big brown bear!
I did not stop to say goodnight,
But fled into the open night.
Hip-hop in the rain,
Dancing to that old refrain.
Growing old, I thought it safer
In my tryst with Mother Nature,
To grow flowers-
Poppies, sweet peas, rare azaleas,
Candy tuft and tiny tansies,
Violets sweet and naughty pansies…
A lovely garden I’d constructed,
Birds and bees were soon inducted.
Bees! Did I say bees?
They were buzzing all around me-
Angry, diving down upon me;
For where their hive had been suspended,
By accident it lay upended!
Dear Reader, if you must
In Nature put your trust,
Stay away from a swarm of bees
And strange crocs lurking under trees,
Or else, like me, you’ll dance with pain,
While doing the hip-hop in the rain.
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Her love for bees began with her father, Otto Plath, who was a bumble bee expert. Otto Plath’s book Bumblebees and Their Ways was published in 1934 and is still used today. Plath’s father grew up in Germany where he gained the nickname Beinen-Konig, meaning King of the Bees. Boston University recognised his knowledge and passion, giving him a place on their academic staff as the Professor of Entomology.
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