Rudyard Kipling's Boer War poem, 'The Absent-Minded Beggar', is the subject of a study day at the University of Bristol on 19 June. Speakers include Peter Bailey, John Lee, Simon Potter, Edward M Spiers, Andrew Lycett, and yours truly.
The poem was written to raise money for the families of
soldiers fighting in the Boer War. It proved to be extraordinarily successful, raising more than £250,000 (the equivalent of £14 million today).
The study day will consider the following questions: 'What, though, does it mean when we say that a poem raised £250,000? How does a poem raise money? How did this poem become so immediately famous, nationally and internationally? How long did that fame last, and what were its literary and cultural effects?'