Henry Rider Haggard

(22 J une 1856 – 14 May 1925)
By Kateryna BI LYK (2014)

Rider Haggard’s Biography
Sir Henry Rider Haggard was born in Norfolk, England in 1856. His parents were
wealthy landowners with both Jewish and
Indian ancestors, a fact which may have
contributed to Haggard’s own more liberal
views toward racial and religious differences.
Alone among his brothers (Rider was one of
eight children), Haggard was not given a private
school education. He took up the study of law,
but soon dropped it in order to take a secretarial
position for the governor of Natal in South
Africa. He remained in Africa over five years,
an experience which shows in many of his
novels set on that so-called “Dark Continent.”
Haggard returned to England and completed his studies, but still could not interest
himself in the legal profession. He married into a wealthy Norfolk family and planned to
return to South Africa to live as a gentleman farmer, but the increasing chaos of the Zulu
rebellion and Boer War made his wife unwilling to settle there.
Rather than go into law full time, Haggard began writing. His first work was the three-
volume work Dawn, followed by The Witch’s Tale, his first novel to take advantage of
his experiences in Africa. Then, according to legend, Haggard read Robert Louis
Stevenson’s Treasure Island and bet his brother a
shilling he could write a book as good or better. Within
a year, Haggard had published King Solomon’s Mines
(1885) and become famous for one of the first “lost
world” novels in the English language.
H. Rider Haggard died in a London nursing home at 3
Devonshire Terrace on 14 May 1925. His ashes are
buried in Ditchingham church (see the picture on the
left). One of Haggard's daughters, L. R. Haggard, wrote
a memoir of him, The Cloak that I Left in 1951.
Haggard's autobiography The Days of my Life in two
volumes was published in 1926.

Literary style and activities
Haggard's stories and characters reflect some strong preconceptions of British
colonialism, and he's been accused of anti-Semitism, but often he is most sympathetic to
native Africans and Zulu culture. His exotic adventures with themes of spiritualism and
antiquity resonated with his imperial audience. Haggard was to initiate many of the now
common themes of the lost civilisation and lost continent genre as per Edgar Rice
Burroughs; ancient magic and curses and secret chambers. His protagonists are usually
European, though many of his heroes are African, such as Ignosi, the rightful king of
Kukuanaland in King Solomon's Mines. Moon of Israel, (1918) about ancient Egypt is
dedicated to "Sir Gaston Maspero, Director of the Cairo Museum". In 1919 Haggard was
made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
With King Solomon’s Mines, She (1887), and their
sequels, Haggard helped usher a new movement in
literature away from social dramas and drawing-
room romances and toward romantic tales of
adventure. Haggard was a complicated man for his
day. He held to conventional Victorian ideals and
belief in progress(see the illustration on the left),
particularly through scientific endeavor, yet he was
also able to entertain an interest in primitive religions and mysticism, as well as hold
more liberal views of race and of European cultures. This complexity comes out in much
of his work, wherein the Imperialist bent of England dominates but can’t completely
explain or comprehend the workings of the so-called “savage” peoples they encounter.
Haggard’s Works
King Solomon´s Mines Improbable and fable-like, the
story tells of English adventurers who travel to the
interior of a remote African country, a vanished empire
with legends of lost treasure. Written more than a
hundred years ago, has not lost its popularity. The story
begins when Allan Quatermain is hired by an English
Gentleman, Sir Henry Curtis, to follow the trail of his
brother, of whom nothing has been known since he
departed in search of the legendary mines. Although the
enterprise shows itself a very dangerous one, hunter
Quatermain accepts the challenge because of the money
involved, which he needs to assist his son. With an old
map and a few clues, the main characters begin a voyage
that will take them, trough deserts and mountains, to the untamed regions of Africa. As
the plot advances, the characters find a lost tribe that receives them as gods because of
their white skins and fire arms, unknown to them. Soon a war is unleashed, and only his
cunning and marksmanship will keep Allan Quatermain alive.
She is Haggard’s most successful work which tells the
remarkable story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and
his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in
the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious
package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th
birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and
several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the
Vincey family. Holly and Leo eventually arrive in eastern
Africa where they encounter a primitive race of natives and a
mysterious white queen, Ayesha, who reigns as the all-
powerful "She" or "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed" and who has
a mysterious connection to young Leo.
The story expresses numerous racial and evolutionary
conceptions of the late Victorians. In the figure of She, the novel notably explored
themes of female authority and feminine behavior. It has received praise and criticism
alike for its representation of womanhood.
Fair Margaret Amazing love story of Margaret and Peter that
astonishes readers by human feelings that can face any
difficulties and successfully get over it.In the turbulent reign of
King Henry VII, Peter Brome finds himself with a soldier's
blood on his hands - blood the Spanish ambassador's men
demand be repaid. Poor and fatherless, Peter delivered the
killing blow in self-defense and because of his helpless love for
Margaret - dark-eyed daughter of John Castell, the kindly and
wealthy merchant who has overseen his upbringing. Now
another pursues fair Margaret -- the powerful Marquis d'Aguilar
of Spain, traveling in England upon a secret mission for the
Inquisition. More than love hangs in the balance.
governor – губернатор
endeavor - докладатизусиль
rebellion – повстання
“savage” peoples"- дикі народи
unwilling – неохоче
encounter - зіткнення
nursing home – будинок престарілих
improbable –неймовірний
trigger –ініціювати, викликати
preconception - упередження, забобон
resonate - резонувати, перетинатися
imperial – імператорський
ambassador– посол
chamber – камера, кімната
usher– спрямовувати
entertain – розважати

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