|Henry Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham, Norfolk, the eighth of ten children, to Sir William Meybohm Rider
Haggard, a barrister, and Ella Doveton, an author and poet.
After schooling Haggard's father sent him to South Africa, to take up an unpaid position as assistant to the
secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal. In 1876 he was transferred to the staff
of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. It was in this role that Haggard was present
in Pretoria in April 1877 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.
In Pretoria in January, 1879, Haggard was deeply affected by the news of the disaster at Isandlwana having known
many of the officers who fell there. He later wrote: "Personally I knew many of the officers of the 24th who fell,
but the one I mourned the most was the gallant Coghill, with whom I had become very friendly when he was at
Pretoria as aide-de-camp to Sir Arthur Cunynghame. He was a particularly light-hearted young man full of good
stories, some of which I remember to this day."
Haggard was elected lieutenant and adjutant of a mounted Pretoria volunteer force that was ordered to join
Weatherly's Border Horse and move into Zululand but that order was countermanded since it was felt that the with
the absence of British regulars at the front the local Boers might rise up. As it was Weatherly's troop was all but
destroyed at Hlobane on 28-29 March 1879.
On learning of the death of Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial of France on 1 June, 1879 hew rote his father with
a less than charitable of the Prince's companions who fled the scene: "I hope those cowardly fellows with him will
be shot to a man."
Remembering the same event some 30 years later his view had mellowed a bit: "One of the last things that
happened before I left South Africa was the slaying of the Prince Imperial at a Zulu outpost. Well can I remember
the thrill of horror, and, I may add, of shame, that this news sent all through the land. Yet it has always seemed to
me that the most of the blame should have fallen, not upon the unfortunate officer and his companions who were
with the Prince, but on whoever allowed him to go out on picket duty of so peculiarly dangerous a nature. The
incident itself is easily explained. Nothing is more terrible than a sudden rush of savages on a little party that does
not expect their presence, especially when the attacking force may perhaps be numbered by hundreds. The
Englishman concerned lost their heads, that was all. It was a case of sauve qui peut. Doubtless until it was too late
they thought the Prince was with them. Well, he died as anyone might be proud to die, and, as it seems probable, by
his death changed the history of Europe, or at any rate the destiny of France, for doubtless had he lived, his chance
of succeeding to the imperial throne was excellent. Again, one wonders whether such things happen by hazard, or
if it were the hand of Fate that threw those assegaais."
After meeting Rudyard Kipling in 1889 the two became life long friends and shared many strongly held views
including staunch opposition of Bolshevism.
Author of more than fifty novels H. Rider Haggard is best known for King Solomon's Mines which he wrote in 1885
as the result of a bet with his brother. His other great novel She was an out growth of his belief in the
transmigration of souls. He traveled widely in South Africa and acquired an extensive knowledge of Bantu
mythology which formed a basis for both She and King Solomon's Mines.
He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919
Below is H. Rider Haggard's autograph signed on 16 April, 1905 in Ottawa, Canada.
Newsboy - Photographer
New York, New York, U.S.A.