(1856-1925), Brit ish writer of boys' adventure stories, historian, and agriculturalist. Achebe remembers reading Haggard's novels, along with those of John Buchan, as a boy in 1952, the year that Joyce Cary published Mister Johnson. Recalling that there were in the “fine library” of his secondary school a “few 'African' novels by such writers as Rider Haggard and John Buchan, ” Achebe nonetheless notes that at the time he “did not connect the Africa of these riveting adventure stories among savages even remotely with myself or my homeland” (Home and Exile). In A Man of thePeople, the uncultured Chief Nanga has only a few books in his library. Two of these are Haggard's novels She (1887) and its sequel, Ayesha: The Return of She (1904-1905), indicating the questionable quality of Nanga's taste in literature.
The hero of several of Haggard's novels, Allan Quatermain, makes his first appearance in the still popular King Solomon's Mines (1885), published in the same year as the Berlin Conference, which divided continental Africa among European contenders, and nearly two decades after diamonds were discovered in the Orange Free State of South Africa. In the company of two other Englishmen, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good, whom he has met on board a ship lingering in Durban harbor, Quatermain, who had until then “made his living as a trader in the old Colony, ” sets out to follow an ancient map in order to recover Curtis's brother George, to quest for gold and diamonds and, in the process, to liberate a tribe of African natives from their despotic rulers and restore their chief Umbopa/Ignosi, to his rightful place at the head of his people.
H. Rider Haggard began his own public career in South Africa as well, when, in 1871 at the age of nineteen, he became secretary to the governor of Natal, Sir Theophilus Shepstone. In 1877, while still on Shep-stone's staff, he assisted in hoisting the British flag over the newly annexed territory of the Transvaal. Meanwhile, in exploring the Natal province, Haggard interested himself in Zulu customs and traditions, publishing several articles on such topics as a “Zulu war dance” in London magazines. Haggard returned to Britain in 1881, where he began writing his adventure stories, took up a life of “farming and gardening, ” and became known as something of an authority on agriculture. In 1912, Haggard was appointed to the Dominions Royal Commission, charged by Joseph Chamberlain with investigating the “burdens of empire” and how they were to