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Lionel Dunsterville (1865-1946): Letters to his sister May

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9498

Scope and Contents

This collection of correspondence of his youngest sister May (later Mrs Lionel Armitage), consists substantially of letters from Lionel Dunsterville, covering schooldays with Kipling at the United Services College, Westward Ho!, and extending up to the time of his marriage in 1897. Many letters include plans or amusing sketches, and some from Dunsterville as a schoolboy are written in blood or secret inks. Kipling features intermittently - in the schoolboy series there is one certain reference when Kipling, on his departure for India in 1882, presented Dunsterville with a much appreciated pair of tennis shoes. Other incidents carry echoes of 'Stalky' episodes, notably Dunsterville's preference for acting, references to the natural history society, and the letter of 1881 in which Dunsterville admits he is losing his study. In later life his friendship with Kipling was maintained.

Unless stated otherwise, letters are from Lional Dunsterville to May. The correspondence has been calendared to provide short summaries of the contents, including some direct quotation. The catalogue has retained original historic language that may be offensive, inaccurate or inappropriate. In order to reflect the original context of creation, such historic language has not been edited or replaced.


  • Creation: 1875-1922 (Circa)


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Lionel Charles Dunsterville (1865-1946), son of Lieutenant-General Lionel D'Arcy Dunsterville, was the model for 'Stalky' Corkoran, hero of Rudyard Kipling's 'Stalky and Co'. He was at school with Kipling at the United Services College, Westward Ho. He joined the Army, and served in Waziristan [Khyber province, Pakistan], 1894-95, the North-West Frontier [India], 1897-98, China, 1900, and the 1914-18 War. Reminiscences of life at Westward Ho, and details of his military career, are found in Dunsterville's memoirs, 'Stalky's reminiscences' (1928).


1 collection

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These letters and papers were apparently consulted from time to time by Dunsterville and by other members of the family (see letter 134). Their history from the 1920s on is obscure; all that can be said for certain is that they were purchased by the Library, from the dealer Julian Browning, in 1998.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm available

Related Materials

Many of Dunsterville's own papers are held among the Special Collections of the University of Sussex.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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