H. Rider Haggard

Writer

Born: 22 June 1856
Died: 14 May 1925
Birthplace: Norfolk, England
Best known as: Author of King Solomon's Mines

Name at birth: Henry Rider Haggard

H. Rider Haggard created the dashing adventurer Allan Quatermain, one of the great literary heroes of Britain's Victorian era. As a young man, Haggard spent several years in South Africa as a functionary of the British government, and Africa became the prime setting of many of the adventure stories he wrote later. Haggard was living in Britain when he published King Solomon's Mines in 1885. (He reportedly wrote the entire novel in six weeks after making a friendly wager with his brother that he could write a better story than Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.) The book was a huge success, and over the next 40 years Haggard wrote dozens of similarly exotic novels and short stories, including Allan Quatermain (1887), She (1887), Montezuma's Daughter (1893) and Belshazzar (published posthumously in 1930). The Haggard style featured a variable but dependable blend of hidden treasures and ancient artifacts, jungle beasts, creepy ghouls and mystical spirits, lost civilizations, and big-hearted, gun-packing gentlemen adventurers. Haggard also developed a serious interest in social and agricultural reform; he wrote The Poor and the Land in 1905 and was appointed a special commissioner for the Colonial Office the same year. He was knighted in 1912 and made a Knight Commander (K.B.E.) in 1919. His autobiography The Days of My Life was published in 1926, the year after his death.

Extra credit: The phrase "She-who-must-be-obeyed" comes from a character in Haggard's 1887 book She.

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