Rider Haggard

Place of Birth:Bradenham Hall, Norfolk

Rider Haggard was a novelist who was famous for his "boy's own" adventure stories. He was responsible for enthusing the younger generations with tales of daring and high adventure on the African frontier. He was originally educated at the Ipswich grammar school before travelling as a young secretary to Sir Henry Bulwar to Natal. Whilst there, he also became acquainted with Sir Theophilus Shepstone and accompanied him into the Transvaal. He returned to Britain in 1879 to settle down and concentrate on his literary career. He first published a book called Cetewayo and his White Numbers (1882) although it failed to ignite much interest outside of Cape politicians and settlers. It was the publication of King Solomon's mines (1885) that really made him famous. The success of this adventure story format encouraged titles in a similar vein: She (1887), Allan Quatermain (1887), Eric bright eyes (1891), Spirit of Bambatse, The Pearl Maiden (1903) and Ayesha (1905). Very much a product of his times, his writing can sometimes grate on modern ears with his Great White Hunter attitude to life. However, his books and stories are still quite readable and would give you an invaluable portrayal of how the hunters and frontiersman perceived themselves and how young boys throughout the empire were inspired.

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by Stephen Luscombe