See his autobiography, The Days of My Life (1926); biography by his daughter L. R. Haggard (1951).
Sir Henry Rider Haggard KBE (22 June 1856 – 14 May 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.
Instead, Haggard's father sent him to what is now South Africa, in an unpaid position as assistant to the secretary to Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal. 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 in love with Mary Elizabeth "Lilly" Jackson, whom he intended to marry once he obtained paid employment in Africa. In 1878 he became Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, and wrote to his father informing him that he intended to return to England and marry her. His father forbade it until Haggard had made a career for himself, and by 1879 Jackson had married Frank Archer, a well-to-do banker. When Haggard eventually returned to England, he married a friend of his sister, Mariana Louisa Margitson, and the couple travelled to Africa together. They had a son named Jock (who died of measles at age 10) and three daughters, Angela, Dorothy and Lilias. Lilias became an author, 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, Louisa's ancestral home. Later they lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay, Suffolk. Haggard 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, which he saw as being more profitable. Rider Haggard lived at 69 Gunterstone Road in Hammersmith, London, from mid 1885 to circa April 1888. It was at this Hammersmith address that he completed King Solomon's Mines (published September 1885). 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, Lilly Archer, née Jackson. She had been deserted by her husband, who had embezzled funds entrusted to him and fled, bankrupt, to Africa. Lilly was penniless, and so Haggard installed her and her sons in a house and saw to the children's education. Lilly eventually followed her husband to Africa, where he infected her with syphilis before dying of it himself. Lilly returned to England in late 1907, where Haggard again supported her until her death on 22 April, 1909. These details were not generally known until the publication of Haggard's 1983 biography by D. S. Higgins.
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 in the 1895 summer election, losing by only 198 votes.
While his novels portray many of the stereotypes associated with colonialism, they are unusual for the degree of sympathy with which he often treats the native populations. Africans often serve heroic roles in his novels, although the protagonists are typically, though not invariably, European. A notable example is Ignosi, the rightful king of Kukuanaland, in King Solomon's Mines. Having developed an intense mutual friendship with the three Englishmen who help him reclaim his throne, he accepts their advice and abolishes witch-hunts and arbitrary capital punishment.
Haggard also wrote about agricultural and social issues reform, in part inspired by his experiences in Africa, but also based on what he saw in Europe. At the end of his life he was a staunch opponent of Bolshevism, a position he shared with his friend Rudyard Kipling. The two had bonded upon Kipling's arrival at London in 1889 largely on the strength of their shared opinions, and the two remained lifelong friends.
Haggard was praised in 1965 by Roger Lancelyn Green, one of the Oxford Inklings, as a writer of a consistently high level of "literary skill or sheer imaginative power" and a co-originator with Robert Louis Stevenson of the Age of the Story Tellers.
Publication dates unknown