Sir Henry Rider Haggard
(1856 – 1925).
Public servant, reformer, commissioner and wellknown storyteller, Rider
Haggard was the author of thirty-four adventure novels.
Rider Haggard was born at Bradenham in Norfolk in 1856. He was the sixth
son of a lawyer and was educated in Ipswich. In 1875 his father procured
for him the post of junior secretary to the Governor of Natal, Sir Henry
Bulwer. He set sail for South Africa and spent six years there,
fascinated by its landscape, wildlife, tribal society and mysterious
past. Powerful, intense and visually magnificent, “She” was written in
Africa in six weeks in 1886. Rider Haggard published “She” in London in
1887. By then he was thirty-one year old, an established writer with his
own fixed and hard-won ways, who had written three first-rated novels:
“King Solomon’s Mines”, “Allan Quatermain”, and “Jess”. No other writer
has absorbed into his work as much knowledge and experience as Haggard
had. He produced a whole series of spellbinding and extravagant romances
set in far-flung corners of the world: Iceland, Constantinople, Mexico,
Ancient Egypt and, of course, Africa.
Travelling widely fueled Haggard’s imagination and helped him get
acquainted with exotic placed and people, their old languages, laws,
traditions, the deepest corners of their ancient history and antiquity.
The events described in the novel take place first at Cambridge, then in
Central Africa, and refer to the period of the beginning of the 19th
century. “She” takes a reader to the deepest interior of Africa,
searching not for treasure but for treasure but for the secrets of a
woman’s love. In Rider Haggard’s greatest romance a father’s mysterious
legacy to his son brings Leo Vincey and his two fellow-adventurers to
Africa. Travelling through crocodile – infested rivers, across volcanic
plains and marshes they reach the vast, eerie catacombs of the Kingdom
of Kor, where they encounter She, the white Queen of the Amahagger
people. A woman of legendary beauty, bewitching and destructive, She has
waited two thousands years for the rebirth and return of the man she
loved. And this man, she believes, is Leo Vincey.
The story begins one rainy night, when a man of twenty-two Ludwig Horace
Holly was sitting in his room at Cambridge, grinding away at some
mathematical work. At last, wearied out, he flung his book down and
happened to catch sight of his countenance in the glass. As he stood and
stared at himself in the glass Horace Holly thought about his physical
deficiencies. Most men of twenty-two are endowed at any rate with some
share of the comeliness of youth, but to him even this was denied.
Short, thick-set, and deep chested almost to deformity, with long arms,
heavy features, deep-set gray eyes, a low brow half overgrown with black
hair he was strikingly ugly person. It seemed that he was branded by
Nature with iron strength and intellect. Ludwig Horace Holly was so ugly
that the spruce young men of his College, though they were proud enough
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