H. RIDER HAGGARD Biography - Writers


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Henry Rider Haggard                                                                       
Born June 22, 1856                                                                         
Bradenham, Norfolk                                                                         
Died May 14, 1925 (aged 68)                                                               
Occupation Novelist, scholar                                                               
Nationality British                                                                       
Writing period 19th & 20th century                                                         
Genres Adventure ; Fantasy ; Fables ; Romance ; Science Fiction ; History                 
Sir Henry Rider Haggard KBE (June 22, 1856 - May 14, 1925), was a prolific                 
writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations, predominantly Africa. He was           
also involved in agricultural reform around the British Empire. His stories,               
situated at the lighter end of Victorian literature, continue to be popular and           
influential to this day.                                                                   
Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham, Norfolk, to Sir William Meybohm Rider           
Haggard, a barrister, and Ella Doveton, an author and poet. He was the eighth of           
ten children. He was initially sent to Garsington Rectory in Oxfordshire to               
study under Reverend H. J. Graham, but unlike his older brothers who graduated             
from various Public Schools, he ended up attending Ipswich Grammar School.                 
This was because his father, who perhaps regarded him as somebody who was not             
going to amount to much, could no longer afford to maintain his expensive                 
private education. After failing his army entrance exam he was sent to a private           
crammer in London to prepare for the entrance exam for the British Foreign                 
Office, for which he never sat.                                                           
Instead, Haggard’s father sent him[citation needed] to Africa in an unpaid               
position as assistant to the secretary to Lieutenant-Governor of Natal Sir Henry           
Bulwer. It was in this role that Haggard was present in Pretoria for the                   
official announcement of the British annexation of the Boer Republic of the               
Transvaal. Indeed, Haggard raised the Union Flag and read out much of the                 
proclamation following the loss of voice of the official originally entrusted             
with the duty.                                                                             
At about that time, Haggard fell deeply in love with Lilith Jackson, who he               
intended to marry once he obtained paid employment in South Africa. In 1878 he             
became Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, but when he sent his father           
a letter telling him that he intended to return to England in order to marry               
Lilith Jackson, his father replied that he forbade it until he had made a career           
for himself. In 1879 he heard that Lilith had married someone else. When he               
eventually returned to England, he married a friend of his sister, Mariana                 
Louisa Margitson, and took her with him when he returned to Africa. They had a             
son named Jock (who died of measles at age 10) and three daughters, Angela,               
Dorothy and Lilias, who became an author. Lilias later edited The Rabbit Skin             
Cap, and wrote a biography of her father entitled The Cloak That I Left.                   
Moving back to England in 1882, the couple settled in Ditchingham, Norfolk.               
Later they lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay,             
Suffolk. He turned to the study of law and was called to the bar in 1884. His             
practice of law was somewhat desultory, and much of his time was taken up by the           
writing of novels. Heavily influenced by the larger-than-life adventurers he met           
in Colonial Africa (most notably Frederick Selous and Frederick Russell Burnham),         
the great mineral wealth discovered in Africa, and the ruins of ancient lost               
civilizations in Africa, such as Great Zimbabwe, Haggard created his Allan                 
Quatermain adventures. Three of his books, The Wizard (1896), Elissa; the                 
doom of Zimbabwe (1899), and Black Heart and White Heart; a Zulu idyll (1900),             
are dedicated to Burnham's daughter, Nada, the first white child born in                   
Bulawayo; she had been named after Haggard's 1892 book Nada the Lily.                     
Years later when Haggard was a successful novelist, he was                                 
contacted by his former love, Lilith Jackson. She had been deserted by her                 
husband, who had left her penniless and infected with syphilis, from which she             
eventually died. Haggard paid her medical bills. These details were not                   
generally known until the publication of Haggard's 1983 biography by D. S.                 
Haggard was heavily involved in reforming agriculture and was a member of many             
commissions on land use and related affairs, work that involved several trips to           
the Colonies and Dominions. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1912 and a Knight             
Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. He stood unsuccessfully             
for parliament as a candidate for the Conservative Party.