A letter in which Rudyard Kipling admits that he may have plagiarised from other people’s works while writing The Jungle Book is set to be auctioned.

In the one-page handwritten letter, addressed to an unknown woman, Kipling writes that it “is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen”.

The letter, written sometime in 1895 — a year after the publication of The Jungle Book — is thought to be a reply to a query about “The Law of the Jungle”, the rules of life in the jungle taught by Baloo to Mowgli .

He writes: “I have been absent from home for some days. Hence the delay in answering yours of no date, in regard to my account of the Law of the Jungle. I am afraid that all that code in its outlines has been manufactured to meet ‘the necessities of the case’: though a little of it is bodily taken from (Southern) Esquimaux rules for the division of spoils. In fact, it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously but at present cannot remember from whose stories I have stolen. — Very sincerely, Rudyard Kipling.”

The letter is to be sold by Britain’s leader autograph dealer, Andrusier Autographs.