The Scotsman - 26 September 2011 - By DAWN MORRISON
DISCOVERY: Archivist Alison Scott with the letter, written by Kipling, below. Picture: NEIL HANNA
In a twist of fate of which literary legend Rudyard Kipling himself would have been proud, a new correspondence penned by the writer has been unearthed by the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.
A member of staff at the college was stunned to find a handwritten letter while sifting through the college archives.
Dated November 20 1909, it came into the ownership of the college hidden inside a copy of The Life of Sir William Osler by Harvey Cushing and had lain in the archives unnoticed since the 1970s.
Quite how the letter, which was addressed to Osler himself, came to be there remains a mystery.
One theory is Cushing may have found the letter while writing Osler's biography and simply kept it.
Archivist Alison Scott, who made the discovery, said: "I was quite amazed when I saw who had written the letter.
"Letters were found inside the book when it was given to the library in 1975 and were housed in the college archives. They were not looked at properly until this year as part of a project funded by the Wellcome Trust to catalogue the archives.
"It was only then that we realised one of the letters was from Kipling."
The correspondence, which appears to be in excellent condition, is written on headed notepaper with an image of a telegraph pole and a train indicating the nearest railway station and telegraph office to Kipling's Sussex home.
It reads: "Mcphail is coming to stay with us directly on his arrival here from Canada.
"I'll do my best to send him in to the Athenaeum dinner in good and proper order though I fear that myself I shan't be able to come on the 13th."
Exactly what type of function the Athenaeum dinner was or why Kipling could not attend is unknown.
The addressee, Sir William Osler, was a Canadian physician and pathologist and mentor to Harvey Cushing, who was also a great admirer of Kipling's and corresponded with him.