Greatest Literature banner

The Man Who Would Be King

Critique • Quotes • TextAt the movies

Collection first editionThe Phantom Rickshaw first edition
By Rudyard Kipling
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1888 in The Phantom Rickshaw and other Eerie Tales

Literary form

Literary, adventure

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 14,500 words

Notable lines

The Law, as quoted, lays down a fair conduct of life, and one not easy to follow.

— First lines

"The country isn't half worked out because they that governs it won't let you touch it. They spend all their blessed time in governing it, and you can't lift a spade, nor chip a rock, nor look for oil, nor anything like that without all the Government saying — ‘Leave it alone and let us govern.' Therefore, such as it is, we will let it alone, and go away to some other place where a man isn't crowded and can come to his own. We are not little men, and there is nothing that we are afraid of except Drink, and we have signed a Contrack on that. Therefore, we are going away to be Kings.""


"Yes," said I. "But do you happen to know if he had anything upon him by any chance when he died?"

"Not to my knowledge," said the Superintendent.

And there the matter rests.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes • TextAt the movies