HAGGARD, HENRY RIDER (1856–), English novelist, was born at Bradenham Hall, Norfolk, on the 22nd of June 1856. When he was nineteen he went to South Africa as secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, governor of Natal. At the time of the first annexation of the Transvaal (1877), he was on the staff of the special commissioner, Sir Theophilus Shepstone; and he subsequently became a master of the high court of the Transvaal. He married in 1879 a Norfolk heiress, Miss Margitson, but returned to the Transvaal in time to witness its surrender to the Boers and the overthrow of the policy of his former chief. He returned to England and read for the bar, but soon took to literary work; he published Cetywayo and his White Neighbours (1882), written in defence of Sir T. Shepstone’s policy. This was followed by the novels Dawn (1884), The Witch’s Head (1885), which contains an account of the British defeat at Isandhlwana; and in 1886 King Solomon’s Mines, suggested by the Zimbabwe ruins, which first made him popular. She (1887), another fantastic African story, was also very successful, a sequel, Ayesha, or the Return of She, being published in 1905. The scene of Jess (1887) and of Allan Quatermain (1888) was also laid in Africa. In 1895 he unsuccessfully contested the East Norfolk parliamentary division in the Unionist interest; he showed great interest in rural and agricultural questions, being a practical gardener and farmer on his estate in Norfolk. In his Rural England (2 vols., 1902) he exposed the evils of depopulation in country districts. In 1905 he was commissioned by the colonial office to inquire into the Salvation Army settlements at Fort Romie, S. California, and Fort Amity, Colorado, with a view to the establishment of similar colonies in South Africa. His report on the subject was first published as a blue book, and afterwards, in an enlarged form, as The Poor and the Land (1905), with suggestions for a scheme of national land settlement in Great Britain itself.
His other books include Maiwa’s Revenge (1888), Mr Meeson’s Will (1888), Colonel Quaritch, V.C. (1888), Cleopatra (1889), Eric Brighteyes (1891), The World’s Desire (1890), a romance of Helen of Troy, written with Mr Andrew Lang; Nada the Lily (1892), Montezuma’s Daughter (1894), The People of the Mist (1894), Joan Haste (1895), Heart of the World (1896), Dr Therne (1898), A Farmer’s Year (1899), The New South Africa (1900), Lysbeth, A Tale of the Dutch (1901), Stella Fregelius (1903), A Gardener’s Year (1905), A Farmer’s Year (1899, revised ed., 1906), The Way of the Spirit (1906).