Writer of adventure novels set on the African frontier, famously his stories include She and King Solomon’s Mines
It was the period of his life, which he spent in Africa, that would provide inspiration and material for his future novels. In 1875 haggard went to natal to live with and assist in the running of the estate of Sir Henry Bulwer (the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal), from there he often accompanied Sir Theophilius Shepstone into the Transvaal where the Britons fought the Boers and the Zulus for supremacy.
His characters in his adventure stories reflect the strong preconceptions of British colonialism and the drive for adventure felt by the young, eager men who ventured from their homes in England to the wilds of Africa. His themes of adventure resonated well with the imperial culture that was sweeping britain at this time yet he is often sympathetic to the native african culture.
In 1919 Haggard was made a knight commander of the order of the British Empire and died in 1925, 14th May in a London nursing home.
She: A History of Adventure is one of the classics of imaginative literature. The story follows the journey of Horace Holly into the African interior where they encounter a primitive race and a mysterious white queen, Ayesha, who reigns as the all-powerful She, or She-who-must-be-obeyed.
“Let them be brought to the house of ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’. Bring forth the men, and let that which they have with them be brought forth also.”
“Mistrust all men, and slay him whom thou mistrustest overmuch; and as for women, flee from them, for they are evil, and in the end will destroy thee.”
“The religions come and the religions pass, and the civilizations come and pass, and naught endures but the world and human nature”
King’s Solomon’s Mines the story follows a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain in their search for the missing brother of one of the party. Their search takes them into an unexplored region of Africa.
Haggard wrote the story in around 5 weeks mainly as a bet with his brother that he could write a novel half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
In the novel, Haggard portrays the relationship between the white and African characters, and while it is not devoid of racism, it is far less racist than similar novels which were to follow. For example, Quatermain refuses to use the term ‘nigger’ and maintains that the African’s were worthy of the title of ‘gentlemen’.
“It is far. But there is no journey upon this earth that a man may not make if he sets his heart to it. There is nothing, Umbopa, that he cannot do, there are no mountains he may not climb, there are no deserts he cannot cross; save a mountain and a desert of which you are spared the knowledge, if love leads him and he holds his life in his hand counting it as nothing, ready to keep it or to lose it as Providence may order.”