Authors: H. Rider Haggard

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Last reviewed: June 2018

English novelist

June 22, 1856

Wood Farm, West Bradenham, Norfolk, England

May 14, 1925

London, England


Henry Rider Haggard (HAG-urd) was well-known as a writer of evocative imperialist adventures involving European heroes impelled to travel to faraway realms and encounter occult forces. Born in England in 1856, Haggard possessed a firsthand knowledge of Africa, having gone to South Africa at the age of nineteen as secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, the governor of Natal. Later, holding a position on the staff of the special commissioner, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Haggard became a master of the High Court of the Transvaal. {$I[AN]9810001480} {$I[A]Haggard, H. Rider} {$I[geo]ENGLAND;Haggard, H. Rider} {$I[tim]1856;Haggard, H. Rider}

Henry Rider Haggard.

By Bain News Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1879, he married and read for the bar, to which he was called in 1884. He felt drawn to literary work, however, and in 1882 he published his first book, Cetywayo and His White Neighbours, written in defense of Shepstone’s policy, which had been overthrown when the Boers took over the Transvaal. Though the book was received favorably at the Cape, it did not draw the general attention that Haggard later won. Two novels—Dawn and The Witch’s Head, the latter treating a British defeat at Isandhlwana—appeared without stirring notice. King Solomon’s Mines, however, an African adventure inspired by the Zimbabwe ruins, achieved an immediate and spectacular success. Equally well received was his next novel, She, describing explorers who meet a mysterious and eternally beautiful woman ruling a lost African tribe. These works set the pattern for a number of later novels about Africa, often involving the hero of King Solomon’s Mines, Allan Quatermain, or the central figure of She, Ayesha (She and Allan featured both characters). Haggard traveled widely and also produced adventures about other cultures, including the ancient Egyptians (Cleopatra), the Vikings (Eric Brighteyes), the Aztecs (Montezuma’s Daughter), and the Mayans (Heart of the World).

Haggard displayed in his own life the union of the practical and the romantic which marks his heroes. He displayed an intense interest in rural and agricultural problems. He himself was not only a practical farmer on his Norfolk estate but also a member of several commissions which studied agricultural and social conditions. Some of these reports evolved into The Poor and the Land. Haggard was knighted in 1912.

In his later decades, Haggard perhaps diminished his own stature by producing scores of lesser novels, and for a time his reputation appeared to be on the wane. With the reemergence of the fantasy genre in the 1960s, however, there was renewed interest in his works, marked by republication of a number of novels and several film adaptations.

Author Works Long Fiction: Dawn, 1884 The Witch’s Head, 1885 King Solomon’s Mines, 1885 She: A History of Adventure, 1887 Allan Quatermain, 1887 Jess, 1887 Mr. Meeson’s Will, 1888 Maiwa’s Revenge: Or, The War of the Little Hand, 1888 Colonel Quaritch, V. C.: A Tale of Country Life, 1888 Cleopatra: An Account of the Fall and Vengeance of Harmachis, the Royal Egyptian, as Set Forth by His Own Hand, 1889 The World’s Desire, 1890 (with Andrew Lang) Beatrice, 1890, rev. 1894 Eric Brighteyes, 1891 Nada the Lily, 1892 Montezuma’s Daughter, 1893 The People of the Mist, 1894 Heart of the World, 1894 Joan Haste, 1895 The Wizard, 1896 Dr. Therne, 1898 Swallow: A Tale of the Great Trek, 1899 Lysbeth: A Tale of the Dutch, 1901 Pearl-Maiden: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem, 1903 Stella Fregelius: A Tale of Three Destinies, 1904 The Brethren, 1904 Ayesha: The Return of She, 1905 The Way of the Spirit, 1906 Benita: An African Romance, 1906 (also pb. as The Spirit of Bambatse) Fair Margaret, 1907 (also pb. as Margaret) The Ghost Kings, 1908 (also pb. as The Lady of the Heavens) The Yellow God: An Idol of Africa, 1908 The Lady of Blossholme, 1909 Morning Star, 1910 Queen Sheba’s Ring, 1910 The Mahatma and the Hare: A Dream Story, 1911 Red Eve, 1911 Marie, 1912 Child of Storm, 1913 The Wanderer’s Necklace, 1914 The Holy Flower, 1915 (also pb. as Allan and the Holy Flower, 1915 The Ivory Child, 1916 Finished, 1917 Love Eternal, 1918 Moon of Israel. A Tale of the Exodus, 1918 When the World Shook: Being an Account of the Great Adventure of Bastin, Bickley, and Arbuthnot, 1919 The Ancient Allan, 1919 She and Allan, 1920 The Virgin of the Sun, 1922 Wisdom’s Daughter: The Life and Love Story of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, 1923 Heu-Heu; or The Monster, 1924 Queen of the Dawn: A Love Tale of Old Egypt, 1925 The Treasure of the Lake, 1926 Allan and the Ice Gods: A Tale of Beginnings, 1927 Mary of Marion Isle, 1929 (also pb. as Marion Isle) Belshazzar, 1930 Short Fiction: Allan’s Wife, and Other Tales, 1889 Elissa / Black Heart and White Heart, 1900 (also pb. as Black Heart and White Heart, and Other Stories) Smith and the Pharaohs, and Other Tales, 1920 The Blue Curtains, 1920 Nonfiction: Cetywayo and His White Neighbours, or Remarks on Recent Events in Zululand, Natal, and the Transvaal, 1882 A Farmer’s Year: Being His Commonplace Book for 1898, 1899 The Last Boer War, 1899 (Also published as A History of the Transvaal) A Winter Pilgrimage: Being an Account of Travels through Palestine, Italy, and the Island of Cyprus in 1900, 1901 Rural England: Being an Account of the Agricultural and Social Researches Carried Out in 1901 and 1902, 1902, 2 volumes A Gardener’s Year, 1905 The Poor and the Land: Report on the Salvation Army Colonies in the United States and at Hadleigh, England, with Scheme of National Land Resettlement, 1905 Regeneration: Being an Account of the Social Work of the Salvation Army in Great Britain, 1910 (with an Appendix by Bramwell Booth Rural Denmark and Its Lessons, 1911 The Days of My Life, 1926, 2 volumes Diary of an African Journey: The Return of Rider Haggard, 2000 (Stephen Coan, editor) Bibliography Etherington, Norman. Rider Haggard. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Contains biography, critical analysis of Haggard’s major works, a chronology, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Fraser, Robert. Victorian Quest Romance: Stevenson, Haggard, Kipling, and Conan Doyle. Plymouth, England: Northcote House, 1998. Analyzes what has turned out to be perhaps the most influential literary genre to emerge from the Victorian era. Katz, Wendy R. Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire: A Critical Study of British Imperial Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. An critical study that finds an unacceptably imperialist agenda in Haggard’s work. Leibfried, Philip. Rudyard Kipling and Sir Henry Rider Haggard on Stage, Sceen, and Television. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1999. Compares the approaches to adventure of Kipling and Haggard, especially through their dramatic adaptations. Pocock, Tom. Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993. A psychological biography that attempts to re-create Haggard’s worldview, touching on his feelings about Jews and Africans, his friendship with Kipling, and his relationships with his father and his son. Siemens, Lloyd, and Roger Neufeld. The Critical Reception of Sir Henry Rider Haggard: An Annotated Bibliography. Greensboro: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. A guide to the varying critical fortunes of Haggard over the previous century. Steibel, Lindy. Imagining Africa: Landscape in H. Rider Haggard’s African Romances. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001. Approaches Haggard’s construction of an imaginary African landscape as a product of late-Victorian wishful thinking about Africa, analyzing his African topography as a vast Eden, a wilderness, a dream underworld, a home to ancient white civilizations, and a sexualized metaphor for the human body. Whatmore, D. E. H. Rider Haggard: A Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1987. Useful for further research.

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