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Victorian Literature H. Rider Haggard
by
Roger Luckhurst

Introduction

Henry Rider Haggard (b. 1856–d. 1925) assisted in the annexation of the Transvaal in South Africa as a young man before going on to write more than fifty novels and a dozen books of nonfictional works on sociology, agriculture, and religion. He conducted a two-year inquiry into the crisis in English farming. He also served on several Royal Commissions and traveled the world to examine conditions for imperial consolidation in the white settler dominions of South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. For this public service, he received a knighthood. After a faltering start in literature, having abandoned colonial service, farming, and the law, his romances King Solomon’s Mines (1885) and She (1887) were literary sensations. Ayesha, the immortal African Queen, seemed struck from the purest elements of the Victorian unconscious, as both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung recognized. Haggard would sell more than two million copies of his rapidly produced fictions during his lifetime. Many books became fodder for early film melodramas. In latter days, he was Rudyard Kipling’s closest literary associate and shared his paradoxical mix of imperial ardor and melancholy about decline. Haggard’s romances were regarded, even by allies and friends, as rather crude and slipshod. He wrote most of them on a schedule of three months and was principled in his refusal to revise drafts, believing that redrafting drained the work of energy. His literary reputation did not survive his dismissive account of the “modern” novel in 1888, at the height of his success. After this, he was routinely attacked by the literary establishment, and his fictions were consigned to a minor place in children’s literature or the embarrassing genre of the imperial romance. Critical commentary in the years after his death was in the form of nostalgic reminiscence about the impact of Haggard’s exotic “lost race” fantasies on boyhood imaginations: Graham Greene ascribed his African adventures directly to reading Haggard as a child. Revival of interest came after Cohen 1960’s biography (cited under Biography) and a recognition of Haggard’s actually rather complicated relation to the imperial project. Since 1980, the critical industry on Haggard has become immense. It has broadly followed the waves of critical movements, with clusters of work from feminist, psychoanalytic, postcolonial, New Historicist, and queer theory approaches. Commentary still tends to narrowly focus on King Solomon’s Mines and She, but the selection in this article also tries to venture beyond these early works.

Biography

Cohen 1960 remains the first port of call, because this was the first scholarly biography produced and remains important, although some of the framing requires updating. Most biographers are inherently sympathetic to Haggard (see Ellis 1978, Haggard 1951, and Pocock 1993), so there is still not a fully critically informed work available that assesses his complex relationship to empire. Higgins 1981 is a more critical and rounded view of the author. Parlati 2008 hints at new avenues that open up with different biographical perspectives.

Bibliography

Siemens 1991 is the most scholarly bibliography cited here, but it is now more than twenty years old and requires supplementation. Mullen 1978 is useful for quick orientation with the sequencing of primary texts. McKay 1930 has some useful elements, but the attempt of Scott 1947 to offer a chronology of Allan Quatermain is an entertaining exercise, revealing more about Haggard’s writing process.

  • McKay, George. A Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Rider Haggard. London: Bookman’s Journal, 1930.

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    First attempt at a biography, now superseded.

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  • Mullen, R. D. “The Books of H. Rider Haggard: A Chronological Survey.” Science Fiction Studies 5.3 (1978): 287–291.

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    Lists Haggard’s sixty-eight publications, with brief comments on the degree of fantasy elements.

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  • Scott, J. E. A Bibliography of the Works of Sir Henry Rider Haggard, 1856–1925. Takeley, UK: E. Mathews, 1947.

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    Gathers a list of first editions, uncollected newspaper articles and letters, and newspaper reports on his speeches. Opens with a mildly eccentric attempt to create a biographical time line for Haggard’s fictional character Allan Quatermain, who appeared in many romances.

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  • Siemens, Lloyd. The Critical Reception of Sir Henry Rider Haggard. English Literature in Transition 1880–1920, Special Series No. 5. Greensboro: University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1991.

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    Most reliable scholarly bibliography to date.

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Letters and Diaries

There is no full-scale scholarly edition of Haggard’s letters, because he remains an essentially popular writer to the university presses likely to support multivolume editions of letters. The diaries are extensive but also underused in criticism. Catalogue of the Holograph Manuscripts gives an indication of the extent of sources in the Norwich archive. Cohen 1965 offers a model of how to create a narrative of a relationship from different sources. Demoor 1987 cites letters between Lang and Haggard. Higgins 1980 abridges the twenty-four volumes of handwritten diary kept at Norwich. Coan 2001 has added the earlier record of Haggard’s visit to Africa.

  • Catalogue of the Holograph Manuscripts of Novels, Romances, and Works on Agriculture and Sociology by Sir H. Rider Haggard. Norwich, UK: Norwich Castle Museum, 1920.

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    Sixteen-page pamphlet, which lists the manuscripts, photographs, and letters donated by Haggard to his local museum in September 1917.

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  • Coan, Stephen, ed. Diary of an African Journey. London: C. Hurst, 2001.

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    Separate publication of Haggard’s diary written during his visit to South Africa in 1914 as part of his service on the Dominions Royal Commission, set up to examine the role Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa could play in the furtherance of the British Empire. Detailed introduction and notes situate Haggard’s commentary very well.

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  • Cohen, Morton, ed. Rudyard Kipling to Rider Haggard: The Record of a Friendship. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Press, 1965.

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    Essential record of one of the central relationships in Haggard’s life, combining Kipling’s letters with Haggard’s diary entries and other source material to produce a narrative of their relationship.

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  • Demoor, Marysa. “Andrew Lang’s Letters to H. Rider Haggard: The Record of a Harmonious Relationship.” Etudes Anglaises 40.3 (1987): 313–322.

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    Useful trawl of unpublished letters by Lang to reconstruct his close relationship with Haggard, particularly between 1885 and 1892, which included their collaboration on the Homeric narrative, The World’s Desire.

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  • Higgins, D. S., ed. The Private Diaries of Sir Rider Haggard 1914–25. London: Cassell, 1980.

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    An abridgement of the two million words Haggard recorded in his daily dictated diary (originally intended as a record of the Great War, but soon abandoned). Distilled from the original diaries now held in Norfolk Record Office.

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Editions

There is no uniform edition of Haggard’s collected works, and many of his romances have not been republished since early publications in first editions and the cheap popular editions that quickly followed. The two early romances that remain on curricula, King Solomon’s Mines (see Butts 2008, Hampson 2007, and Monsman 2002) and She (see Brantlinger 2001, Etherington 1991, Karlin 1991, and Stauffer 2006) are available in multiple scholarly editions, with introductions and annotations; the most useful are listed in this section by editor. Many of Haggard’s romances have been reissued in facsimile form from early editions by Wildside Press. Print-on-demand presses also now republish editions of many of the romances. These do not usually have any textual apparatus. Beyond the romances, Haining 1981 selects from Haggard’s shorter fiction, while Coan and Tella 2007 has recovered Haggard’s attempts to write for the theater.

Reference Works

All the sources in this section are from the Dictionary of Literary Biography, which has helpful and extensive bibliographic entries, although in each case, Carpenter 1988, Davidson 1997, Hallock 1997, and Whelan 1996 are introducing Haggard within a specific generic context, which shifts the focus more or less helpfully each time.

  • Carpenter, Richard C. “H. Rider Haggard.” In British Mystery Writers, 1860–1919, Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 70. Edited by Bernard Benstock and Thomas F. Staley, 154–165. Detroit: Gale, 1988.

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    Basic bibliography of published works and exploration of Haggard’s relation to the American genre category of the mystery.

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  • Davidson, Elizabeth S. “H. Rider Haggard.” In British Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers before World War I, Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 178. Edited by Darren Harris-Fain, 109–120. Detroit: Gale, 1997.

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    Brief examination focusing on King Solomon’s Mines and She, but not much willingness to pursue Haggard’s more openly science fictional tales listed in Bleiler or Mullen.

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  • Hallock, John W. M. “H. Rider Haggard.” In British Travel Writers, 1876–1909, Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 174. Edited by Barbara Brothers and Julia Gergits, 168–177. Detroit: Gale, 1997.

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    Haggard was not a travel writer, yet he was arguably one of the key ways in which people of the era learned of places such as Peru or Denmark. Discussion of his one travel narrative, A Winter Pilgrimage: Being an Account of Travels through Palestine, Italy, and the Island of Cyprus, Accomplished in the Year 1900 (1901) suggests the fictionalizing impulse animates the tour rather than the actual journey.

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  • Whelan, P. T. “H. Rider Haggard.” In British Short-Fiction Writers, 1880–1914: The Romantic Tradition, Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 156. Edited by William F. Naufftus, 124–136. Detroit: Gale, 1996.

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    Rare analysis of Haggard’s three volumes of short stories, Allan’s Wife and Other Tales (1890), Black Heart and White Heart and Other Tales (1900), and Smith and the Pharaohs and Other Tales (1920), concludes that his influence rests with romances, not short stories, and that only “The Mahatma and the Hare: A Dream Story” (1911) deserves rereading.

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Critical Works

Haggard studies are now extensive and specialized. Included here are sections on early critical responses from the vibrant late Victorian literary scene, followed by sections that more overtly track the development of critical Haggard study in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Haggard’s genre of romance is crucial to understand, as are his explorations of psychology and comparative religion in the era. These sections also cover his relationship to transformed gender politics and his complex relationship to empire, including very different investments in Southern Africa or Egypt.

Key Early Responses

Haggard’s sensational success with She prompted a spectrum of reactions and reflections on the state of writing in the late Victorian era, from the concerned Christian (Anonymous 1888), the staunch defense of the virility of the romance (Lang 1887), to early denunciations that would set the tone for Haggard’s reception by the literary establishment (Moore 1887a and Moore 1887b).

Romance

Haggard’s part in the romance revival has become an important part of his critical reevaluation. Early reconsiderations reflected on the mythopoeic power of the tales (see Green 1945, Greene 1969, and Lewis 2000) and his part in the romance revival (Vogelsberger 1984). More recently, critics have provided cultural historical materials for the books, including popular imperial culture (Bristow 1991), commodity culture (Daly 1999), or questions of genre (Westerwheel 1995, Hammer 2002) or the scientific anthropology that underpinned defenses of the romance form (Michalski 1995).

  • Bristow, Joseph. Empire Boys: Adventures in a Man’s World. London: HarperCollins Academic, 1991.

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    Very useful contextual material on the rise of the imperial romance form in the late 19th century. Close reading of Haggard alongside contemporary G. A. Henty.

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  • Daly, Nicholas. Modernism, Romance and the Fin de Siecle: Popular Fiction and British Culture 1880–1914. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    Excellent study of the emergent formation of mass culture and modernism. Stoker is a strong focus, but Haggard is a constant reference point. Also there is a useful chapter on mummy fictions, contextualizing one of Haggard’s key obsessions.

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  • Green, Roger Lancelyn. “The Romances of Rider Haggard.” English 5 (1945): 144–148.

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    Reassessment on the 20th anniversary of Haggard’s death and a rare early academic consideration of his work. Green regards Nada the Lily as Haggard’s one true masterpiece.

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  • Greene, Graham. “Rider Haggard’s Secret.” In Collected Essays. By Graham Greene, 209–214. London: The Bodley Head, 1969.

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    A 1951 essay reviewing Haggard’s biography. Greene recalls his “enchantment” by Haggard in childhood, but his rereading discerns a complex melancholia in the romances.

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  • Hammer, Jona E. “Eric Brighteyes: Rider Haggard Rewrites the Sagas.” Studies in Medievalism 12 (2002): 137–170.

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    Significant assessment of Haggard’s retelling of Icelandic sagas, which he had been encouraged to do by the romance and folklore expert Andrew Lang.

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  • Lewis, C. S. “The Mythopoeic Gift of Rider Haggard.” In Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces. Edited by Lesley Walmsley, 559–562. London: HarperCollins, 2000.

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    Review of the Cohen biography, which allows Lewis to reflect on “the whole Haggard question”: why the work of such an apparently careless writer nevertheless survives. Lewis offers some crisp formulations about mythopoeic power to rise above poor writing. Focuses on She.

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  • Michalski, Robert. “Towards a Popular Culture: Andrew Lang’s Anthropological and Literary Criticism.” Journal of American Culture 18.3 (1995): 13–17.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1542-734X.1995.00013.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Crucial context from Haggard’s close friend Lang, who published his principal scholarly study of myth and folklore in 1887.

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  • Vogelsberger, Hartwig A. “King Romance”: Rider Haggard’s Achievement. Salzburg, Austria: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universität Salzburg, 1984.

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    Attempt to rehabilitate Haggard from dismissive claims of his low literary merit. Good general coverage beyond King Solomon’s Mines and She.

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  • Westerwheel, Bart. “‘An Immense Snake Uncoiled’: H. Rider Haggard’s Heart of Darkness and Imperial Gothic.” In Exhibited by Candlelight: Sources and Developments in the Gothic Tradition. Edited by V. Tinkler-Villani, Peter Davison, and Jane Stevenson, 255–270. Amsterdam: Rodolpi, 1995.

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    The imperial gothic exploration of the metaphysical gothic, principally in She.

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Psychology and Religion

Haggard’s mythopoeic abilities are usually praised despite or perhaps because of perceived low literary merit. This feeds directly into psychological and theological interpretations of his work. Freud 1958 (originally published in 1900) referred in passing to Haggard’s powerful symbolic templates, something developed by critics such as Mazlish 1993 and Young 2005, and something the rival school of analytical psychology under Jung developed into a theory of archetypes. This was explored by Brunner 1986, Hinz 1972, Jung 1968, and Jung 1971. Readings of Haggard’s religious syncretism, in context with the arrival of Eastern religion in England are pursued in Franklin 2008.

  • Brunner, Cornelia. Anima as Fate. Translated by J. Heuscher. Dallas: Spring, 1986.

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    A translation of the 1959 book-length Jungian study, Die Anima Als Shicksalsproblem Des Männes. Brunner was a student of Carl Jung; this study of the feminine principle, the anima, is built on a sustained study of Haggard’s She. Value depends on reader’s view of Jung’s analytic psychology and the theory of the collective unconscious.

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  • Franklin, J. Jeffrey. The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

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    Study of the impact of Buddhism on British intellectual elite, from Sir Edwin Arnold to D. H. Lawrence, with useful commentary on hybridization of Eastern thought in the West through movements such as theosophy. The third chapter examines the work of Marie Corelli and Rider Haggard as key sources of popularization of a very particular version of Buddhism in Britain.

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  • Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 5. By Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey, 453–455. London: The Hogarth Press, 1958.

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    Freud’s analysis of one of his own dreams connects the material to the iconography of Haggard’s She and Heart of the World. Suggestive for Etherington and others that Haggard and Freud share a historical conjuncture where notions of the dynamic unconscious are beginning to emerge simultaneously across fiction and psychological theories.

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  • Hinz, Evelyn J. “Rider Haggard’s She: An Archetypal History of Adventure.” Studies in the Novel 4 (1972): 416–431.

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    Jungian readings of text as supplying enduring image of the anima, or female, archetype.

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  • Jung, Carl. “Psychology and Literature.” In Collected Works. Vol. 15. By Carl Jung. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. London: Routledge, 1971.

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    Jung pronounces that the “non-psychological” novel generally “offers the richest opportunities for psychological elucidation,” citing Haggard as his primary example, although only in passing. Fully worked out Jungian theory in Brunner.

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  • Jung, Carl. “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.” In Collected Works. Vol. 9. Part 1. By Carl Jung. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. London: Routledge, 1968.

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    Jung’s discussion of the anima, the eternal feminine principle, as “numinous, unconditional, dangerous, taboo, magical.” Cites Haggard’s She as exemplary text, only in passing. Fully worked out Jungian theory in Brunner.

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  • Mazlish, Bruce. “A Triptych: Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, Rider Haggard’s She, and Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race.” Comparative Studies in Society & History 35.4 (1993): 726–745.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500018685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Taking its cue from Freud’s account of his own dream, this study traces topography in Haggard and beyond.

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  • Young, Shannon. “Myths of Castration: Freud’s ‘Eternal Feminine’ and Rider Haggard’s She.” Victorian Newsletter 108 (2005): 21–30.

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    Self-explanatory elaboration of Freudian themes.

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Gender

Haggard’s romances work with such psychological power, some argue, because they connect either to primal models of gender and sexuality or articulate the particular gender politics of the late Victorian era. The focus on the representation of women in Auerbach 1982, Gilbert and Gubar 1989, and Stott 1992 reflects the first phase of feminist assessment. McClintock 1995 and Kestner 2010 add wider gender and sexual questions, while the intersection of race and gender in the era has proved important in Chrisman 1997 and Rodgers 1999.

  • Auerbach, Nina. Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982.

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    Study of the binary notion of woman as victim and/or dominatrix in the Victorian imagination. Haggard’s Ayesha and George MacDonald’s Lilith serve as key reference points for the “divine-demonic” queen figure.

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  • Chrisman, Laura. “Gendering Imperial Culture: Problems in Feminist and Post-Colonial Criticism.” In Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History. Edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson, Benita Parry, and Judith Squires, 290–304. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1997.

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    Critique of studies that analyze imperial fictions for allegories of gender, while ignoring the dynamic of race.

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  • Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 2. Sexchanges. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.

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    Significant feminist study, which opens with the chapter, “Heart of Darkness: The Agon of the Femme Fatale,” which uses Haggard’s She as “the definitive embodiment of fantasies that preoccupied countless male writers.”

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  • Gubar, Susan. “She and Herland: Feminism as Fantasy.” In Coordinates: Placing Science Fiction and Fantasy. Edited by George Slusser, Eric S. Rankin, and Robert Scholes, 139–149. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983.

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    A more focused and comparative account.

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  • Kestner, Joseph A. Masculinities in British Adventure Fiction, 1880–1915. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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    Largely synthetic and familiar material, but a useful survey account featuring brief readings of Haggard’s principal romances.

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  • McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. London: Routledge, 1995.

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    Explores Haggard’s “porno-tropics”—his constant sexualizing of landscapes, worked out in relation to King Solomon’s Mines. McClintock reads through postcolonial lenses but also utilizes queer theory. Queer theory focused on late Victorian works, exploring the tension between the homosocial worlds of the masculine romance and anxiety about the emergent identity of the homosexual man. Haggard’s fictions provide ample instances of innocent masculine worlds coursing with desire.

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  • Rodgers, Terence. “Restless Desire: Rider Haggard, Orientalism, and the New Woman.” Women: A Cultural Review 10.1 (1999): 35–46.

    DOI: 10.1080/09574049908578370Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Suggests that the romances are riven with contradiction, where confident heterosexual and imperial imperatives “slide into a shifting and unstable territory of imperial and gender crisis, exposing a place of restless desire, perversity and degeneration.” Counter-reactions to the metropolitan phenomenon of the New Woman were often routed through figures of the “perverse” feminine on the colonial margin.

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  • Showalter, Elaine. Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siècle. New York: Viking, 1990.

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    Important investigation of the masculine gendering of the romance revival in the 1880s, against a novel form now associated with femininity. Broad brushstrokes are used, but this study has been influential.

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  • Stott, Rebecca. The Fabrication of the Late-Victorian Femme Fatale: The Kiss of Death. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1992.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230376700Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains extended treatment of the terrifying figure of female power in the chapter “Rider Haggard’s Black Widow.”

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Empire

Haggard’s active participation in the processes of colonial annexation and services to colonial administration work alongside his fiction to make him a useful figure to study for bringing together late Victorian literary production and the ideology of empire. While Sandison 1967 detects elements of critique, Brantlinger 1988 and Katz 1987 see Haggard as a relatively uncomplicated communicator of imperialism. Bunn 1988 and Etherington 1978 trace how colonized landscapes are merely displacements for other kinds of investigation. A different critical focus by Arata 1996, Bivona 1990, and Low 1996 detects in Haggard’s work forms of conflict and ambiguity. O’Gormon 2007 offers a rare sense of economics at the heart of imperial enterprise.

  • Arata, Stephen. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511553585Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    It is Stoker and Kipling rather than Haggard who serve as the main focus here, but Arata’s formulations about “reverse colonisation” and his reading of the melancholic undertow to British imperial fictions of the late Victorian period make this a key book for understanding Haggard.

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  • Bivona, Daniel. Desire and Contradiction: Imperial Visions and Domestic Debates in Victorian Literature. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1990.

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    Third chapter reads Haggard, Conrad, and Hardy as a cluster, arguing all move beyond simple oppositions of East/West and primitive/civilized, instead offering a vision of complex interdependency of center and margin, a relativism informed by Darwin.

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  • Brantlinger, Patrick. Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

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    Situates Haggard’s fictions within notion of “imperial Gothic,” an essentially juvenile genre that doubles the imperial frontier with that of the spectral frontier of the unknown and supernatural. Cogently and polemically argued if not very nuanced to specific contexts.

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  • Bunn, David. “Embodying Africa: Woman and Romance in Colonial Fiction.” English in Africa 15.1 (1988): 1–28.

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    Arguably the first essay to focus on Haggard’s feminization of landscapes. Soon picked up by McClintock and others.

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  • Etherington, Norman A. “Rider Haggard, Imperialism, and the Layered Personality.” Victorian Studies 22.1 (1978): 71–87.

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    Important investigation of the way in which Haggard’s imperial fiction uses colonial spaces to articulate an account of the unconscious, a modern notion emerging contemporaneously through the work of Freud, Jung, and Janet.

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  • Katz, Wendy R. Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire: A Critical Study of British Imperial Fiction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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    Haggard’s fiction regarded as illustrative of “a total mentality, a philosophy of life, an idea of humankind completely in harmony with the imperial ideology.” Ultimately a harsh judgment of Haggard’s role in propagandizing empire, suggesting his books engage in “fraudulent idealization.”

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  • Low, Gail Ching-Liang. White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism. London: Routledge, 1996.

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    Theoretical work of postcolonial theory, built substantially around a sustained treatment of Haggard’s fiction and career as imperial representative.

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  • O’Gormon, Francis. “Speculative Fictions and the Fortunes of H. Rider Haggard.” In Victorian Literature and Finance. Edited by Francis O’Gorman, 157–172. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199281923.003.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Refreshingly offers a new angle on Haggard’s fiction, reading the content and form of his romances as risk-taking “speculations” that echo the world of financial investment in colonial enterprise.

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  • Sandison, Alan. The Wheel of Empire: A Study of the Imperial Idea in Some Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Writers. London: Macmillan, 1967.

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    Sandison offers a sympathetic portrait of Haggard’s imperial fiction, arguing that he repudiates notions of the white man’s burden and rejects typical Victorian paternalism toward Africa. Sandison’s stance is sympathetic and has since become a reference point for critics to reinstate the centrality of Haggard’s enthusiastic support for imperial ideology and active colonial settlement.

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Southern Africa

Haggard had traveled to southern Africa as a young man, witnessing the colonial policy that would lead to the destruction of the Zulu nation and the conditions that would render the two Boer Wars inevitable. His complex and conflicted relationship to southern Africa has been recovered from dismissive considerations of Haggard as a simple-minded jingoistic thinker. Early work such as Couzens 1974 established how involved Haggard was in crucial colonial negotiations. Stiebel 2001a, Stiebel 2001b, Monsman 2006, and Monsman 2010 have provided detailed southern African contexts, while Chrisman 2000 situates Haggard within a political spectrum.

  • Chrisman, Laura. Rereading the Imperial Romance: British Imperialism and South African Resistance in Haggard, Schreiner and Plaatje. Oxford: Clarendon, 2000.

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    The most sustained and critically sophisticated study of Haggard’s imagining of South Africa. Driven by agendas of postcolonial theory, which some might find opaque, but close study of the text can be rewarding.

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  • Couzens, T. J. Literature and Ideology: The Patterson Embassy to Lobengula 1878 and King Solomon’s Mines. Seminar paper delivered at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London, 24 January 1974.

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    Paper from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies library catalogue outlining Haggard’s modeling of his adventure on his participation in the Shepstone mission to the Ndebele (Matabele) tribe in 1877. Provides an early indication that Haggard’s mythical romance plot needs to be read as a displaced account of very specific developments in the imperial politics of southern Africa, rather than as generic fantasy.

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  • Monsman, Gerald. H. Rider Haggard on the Imperial Frontier: The Literary and Political Contexts of His African Romances. Greensboro, NC: ELT, 2006.

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    After two decades of critical opinion regarding Haggard as an exemplification of imperial ideology, Monsman defends Haggard as a sophisticated critic of empire in southern Africa. The book provides contextual detail for Haggard’s fourteen novels set in or around the Zulu War and also reads Haggard with other key white South African writers of the late 19th century, Olive Schreiner and Bertram Mitford.

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  • Monsman, Gerald. Colonial Voices: The Anglo-African High Romance of Empire. New Orleans, LA: University Press of the South, 2010.

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    Principally a study of the South African gothic romancer, Bertram Mitford, Haggard is nevertheless a key reference point in the study.

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  • Stiebel, Lindy. Imagining Africa: Landscape in H. Rider Haggard’s African Romances. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001a.

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    Haggard creates a generic “African” topography that has immense discursive power beyond fiction. Inspired by Edward Said’s discourse theory of Orientalism, Stiebel tries to outline a comparable “Africanism.” Pursues Haggard’s influence up to present-day fiction, including Wilbur Smith.

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  • Stiebel, Lindy. “Creating a Landscape of Africa: Baines, Haggard and Great Zimbabwe.” English in Africa 28.2 (2001b): 123–135.

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    Short version of Imagining Africa, focused on the discovery of the Zimbabwe ruins and the debate over African civilization that ensued.

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Egypt

Haggard visited Egypt a number of times, and two of his brothers fought in military campaigns; his brother Andrew Haggard wrote a memoir, Under Crescent and Star, in 1895. Haggard also claimed his imagination had been fired in his East Anglican childhood by a local collection of Egyptian antiquities. He collected Ancient Egyptian artifacts all his life, which has been assessed by Blackman 1917. He exchanged pharaonic rings with Andrew Lang. He came to believe one of his former incarnations was in Ancient Egypt. Addy 1998 collects every primary resource together on Haggard and Egypt. Burdett 2004 and Pearson 2000 explore the importance of Egyptian religious beliefs to Haggard, while Deane 2008 and Hurley 2008 provide Egyptian colonial context for Haggard’s obsession with reanimated mummies.

  • Addy, Shirley M. Rider Haggard and Egypt. Accrington, UK: A. L. Publications, 1998.

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    Recovers in detail all the traces of Haggard’s four trips to Egypt, his collection of artifacts, and surveys the ten novels that are set in part or whole in Egypt. Usefully collects together Haggard’s articles on Egypt for Daily Mail and letters to the Times on Egyptian matters.

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  • Blackman, Aylward. “The Nugent and Haggard Collections of Egyptian Antiquities.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 4.1 (1917): 39–46.

    DOI: 10.2307/3853791Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is a briefly annotated list of artifacts in these collections, although Blackman provides background on the acquisition of the pharaonic rings shared by Haggard and Lang. Useful sense of extent of Haggard’s antiquarianism.

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  • Burdett, Carolyn. “Romance, Reincarnation and Rider Haggard.” In The Victorian Supernatural. Edited by N. Bown, C. Burdett, and P. Thurschwell, 217–235. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    Sharp critical insights on Haggard’s use of reincarnation in his romances (particularly in the novels that repeat Ayesha’s doomed erotic attachments over and over again). Haggard’s own equivocal belief in reincarnation, barely synthesized with his traditional Christian views, is also explored as symptomatic of a writer fascinated by “psychical” and other variously “occult” events.

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  • Deane, Bradley. “Mummy Fiction and the Occupation of Egypt: Imperial Striptease.” English Literature in Transition 51.4 (2008): 381–410.

    DOI: 10.2487/elt.51.4(2008)0029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Victorian obsession with “unwrapping” mummies here read as a fantasy that overdetermines a sexual unveiling with the possessive colonial gaze. Reads Haggard’s She and his short story “Smith and the Pharaohs” alongside Stoker’s The Jewel of the Seven Stars in the context of British occupation of Egypt after 1882.

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  • Hurley, Kelly. “The Victorian Mummy-Fetish: H. Rider Haggard, Frank Aubrey, and the White Mummy.” In Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain. Edited by Marlene Tromp, 180–199. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2008.

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    Reflections on Haggard’s obsessive return to miraculously preserved undead put in context with wider cultural fascination. Strains a little to put this study into the freak show frame.

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  • Pearson, Richard. “Archaeology and Gothic Desire: Vitality beyond the Grave in H. Rider Haggard’s Ancient Egypt.” In Victorian Gothic: Literary and Cultural Manifestations in the Nineteenth Century. Edited by R. Robbins and J. Wolfreys, 218–244. New York: Palgrave, 2000.

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    Haggard’s fiction of the 1880s read in context of the founding of the Egyptian Exploration Fund and the major Egyptological discoveries of the decade. Makes familiar set of associations between sexual desire and archaeological discovery. Extends discussion to Haggard’s Cleopatra and The World’s Desire.

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King Solomon’s Mines

Haggard’s early romance usually remains, alongside She, his only fiction to survive for teaching Victorian literature. The following are some well-focused essays that have not been treated in other specialist subsections. All the selections here aim to give specific historical information, particularly about the discovery of the ruined civilization at Zimbabwe, which is one of the central inspirations for the romance. Etherington 1977, Lord 1991, Shah 2002, and Tangri 1990 provide contextual geographical materials on the possible origins for Haggard’s mine, while Monsman 2000 and Kaufman 2005 offer more cultural historical sources. Scheick 1991 begins an influential reading of symbolic geography in Haggard.

  • Etherington, Norman A. “South African Origins of Rider Haggard’s Early African Romances.” Notes and Queries (1977): 436–438.

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    Brief but useful notes, suggesting that Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley’s novel The Ruined Cities of Zululand (1869) might be one key source for King Solomon’s Mines and other early Haggard romances.

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  • Kaufman, Heidi. “King Solomon’s Mines? African Jewry, British Imperialism, and H. Rider Haggard’s Diamonds.” Victorian Literature and Culture 33.2 (2005): 517–539.

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    Explores context of the discovery of diamond fields in Kimberley and its subsequent effect on the economic and political investment in South Africa as a result.

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  • Lord, Graham. The Ghosts of King Solomon’s Mines: Mozambique and Zimbabwe: A Quest. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991.

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    Updated investigation of the myths that have surrounded the civilizations of southern Africa, using Haggard as a starting point.

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  • Monsman, Gerald. “Of Diamonds and Deities: Social Anthropology in H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines.” English Literature in Transition 43.3 (2000): 280–297.

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    Good use of contextual material to illuminate King Solomon’s Mines, offering details of the Kimberley diamond-mine rush of the 1870s, along with the speculations on the meaning of the ancient ruins of the Great Zimbabwe, which were discovered by explorers in the late 1860s.

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  • Scheick, William J. “Adolescent Pornography and Imperialism in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines.” English Literature in Transition 34.1 (1991): 19–30.

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    Suggests that the structure of the quest plot is a pornographic “joke”: the penetration of a feminized African landscape. Among the first of many similar readings, most developed in McClintock 1995.

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  • Shah, Tahir. In Search of King Solomon’s Mines. London: John Murray, 2002.

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    Travel narrative that at once contextualizes but also emulates Haggard in its breathless search for the biblical city of Ophir.

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  • Tangri, Daniel. “Popular Fiction and the Zimbabwe Controversy.” History in Africa 17 (1990): 293–304.

    DOI: 10.2307/3171818Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the controversy surrounding the origins of the ruins through fiction in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines but also in She and Elissa. Touches on their subsequent appearance in John Buchan’s Prester John and W. Smith’s The Sunbird. Includes photograph of Haggard standing among the ruins.

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She

The politics of gender and theological questions raised by Haggard’s interest in reincarnation have been covered in other sections. These are additional essays focused on She, which bring new contexts to the romance. Chaloemtiarana 2007 shows how rapidly She entered into circulation into non-Western fictions as well. Vinson 2008 tracks the likely influence of the African folktale. Malley 1997 and Sinha 2008 provide archaeogical and hunting contexts to the novel, while Zulli 2009 brings together the leading Haggard scholars.

  • Chaloemtiarana, Thak. “Khru Liam’s Nang Neramid: Siamese Fantasy, Rider Haggard’s She and the Divine Egyptian Nymph.” South East Asia Research 15.1 (2007): 29–52.

    DOI: 10.5367/000000007780420507Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focus on the 1916 Thai novel, which effectively rewrites She. Rare example of a study of how Haggard’s fantasies of the East were incorporated and reimagined in the Far East.

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  • Malley, Shawn. “‘Time Hath No Power Against Identity’: Historical Continuity and Archaeological Adventure in H. Rider Haggard’s She.” English Literature in Transition 40.3 (1997): 275–297.

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    Excellent study of influence of anthropological and archaeological theories of “savage survivals” on Haggard’s fiction.

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  • Sinha, Madhudaya. “Triangular Erotics: The Politics of Masculinity, Imperialism and Big-Game Hunting in Rider Haggard’s She.” Critical Survey 20.3 (2008): 29–43.

    DOI: 10.3167/cs.2008.200303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Useful exploration of the models of masculinity in the discourse of big-game hunting and their filtration into Haggard’s fiction.

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  • Vinson, Steve. “They-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed: Arsake, Rhadopis, and Tabubue, Ihweret and Charikleia.” Comparative Literature Studies 45.3 (2008): 289–315.

    DOI: 10.1353/cls.0.0041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Investigation of Haggard’s possible use of folktales from southern Africa, heard during his period as colonial agent.

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  • Zulli, Tania, ed. She: Explorations into a Romance. Rome: Aracne, 2009.

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    Impressive collection of essays, containing work by leading Haggard scholars, including Coan, Stauffer, Stiebel, Etherington, Wheelhouse, Monsman, and Brantlinger. Covers many aspects of She, from reception and romance form, through to contextual material on archaeology and empire.

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Agriculture

Haggard invested heavily in the notion of the country squire, and took his responsibilities over local farmers very seriously to the extent that he financed his own county-by-county survey of the decline of English farming. In this section, Ernle 1927, Orwin and Whetham 1964, and Stearns 1932 prop their actuarial studies of English farming in part on a discussion of Haggard’s findings. Freeman 2001 offers more insight into Haggard’s sociology.

  • Ernle, Lord. English Farming Past and Present. 4th ed. London: Longmans, Green, 1927.

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    A history of English agriculture, which praises in passing Haggard’s collection of evidence on the condition of farming in England in 1901 and 1902, which Haggard published at his own expense as Rural England (1903). Ernle, though, suggests that the situation is already improving in 1912, and no one now would “paint the picture . . . in such gloomy colours.”

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  • Freeman, Mark. “Rider Haggard and Rural England: Methods of Social Enquiry in the English Countryside.” Social History 26.2 (May 2001): 209–216.

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    Examination of Haggard’s methods of inquiry, compared with other pioneer sociological investigators, Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree.

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  • Orwin, Christabel, and Edith Whetham. History of British Agriculture 1846–1914. London: Longmans, Green, 1964.

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    In the examination of “Great Depression 1885–1895,” these historians use Haggard’s study, Rural England (1903). It has become clear that Haggard’s frontier fiction needs to be tied to his experience as a farmer and landowner during the catastrophic economic collapse in English farming. It is an essential part of Haggard’s conceptions of decline and loss.

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  • Stearns, Raymond Phineas. “Agricultural Adaptation in England, 1975–1900.” Agricultural History 6.3 (1932): 130–154.

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    Another general study of the period, deferring to Haggard’s collection of data.

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Other Media

Haggard’s popularity ensured that his works were soon used as material for visual entertainment, particularly on stage (as Mabilat 2008 details) and with entrepreneurs trying various technologies of film in the early days of cinema. Leibfried 2008 offers the most extensive list, but Higgins 1986–1987 has more insight, while Royster 2003 and Ugor 2006 suggest that the Orientalism of cinematic representations endures.

  • Higgins, Sydney. “Bestseller: Rider Haggard and the Cinema.” Sight and Sound 56.1 (1986–1987): 64–65.

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    Details Haggard’s early interest in selling film rights to bolster income (receiving 9,000 pounds for six books in 1917) and his frustrated reaction to censorship requirements on early adaptations. Some details of the sixteen silent film adaptations of Haggard, starting with Georges Meliès’s La Danse du Feu (1899) and Michael Curtiz’s adaptation of Moon of Israel (1924).

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  • Leibfried, Philip. Rudyard Kipling and Sir Rider Haggard on Screen, Radio and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

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    Includes a valuable list of every movie adaptation of Haggard’s work from 1899 (pp. 95–189). Shorter chapters on theater, radio, and television adaptations. Although driven by plot summary, the book is illustrated with stills and lobby cards, providing a rich visual record of the Orientalized erotica that soaks depictions of Ayesha.

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  • Mabilat, Claire. Orientalism and Representations of Music in the Nineteenth-Century British Popular Arts. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Innovative investigation of the late Victorian music hall. Contains detailed investigations of adaptations of Haggard’s best-selling romances.

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  • Royster, Francesca T. Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2003.

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    Includes a short discussion of Haggard’s Cleopatra in context of early screen adaptations, centered on Theda Bara’s notorious performance in the Fox studio version of 1917.

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  • Ugor, Paul. “Demonizing the African Other, Humanizing the Self: Hollywood and the Politics of Post-Imperial Adaptations.” Atenea 26.2 (2006): 131–150.

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    Postcolonial analysis of Steve Boyum’s 2004 adaptation of King Solomon’s Mines, seeing it as an exercise in nostalgic recuperation that continues to dehumanize Africa.

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LAST MODIFIED: 04/24/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199799558-0053

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