In this new, revised and updated edition of his comprehensive biography of Rider Haggard, D.S. Higgins uses both the mass of previously unpublished material he unearthed and the evidence contained in Haggard’s sixty-nine novels to show that the best-selling author left much more for posterity than he would knowingly have revealed to his millions of readers. Sydney Higgins discovered the identity of the woman with whom Haggard fell in love when he was a teenager. Although the affair was unconsummated and both married other partners, he believed that their love was eternal and they would be reunited after death. This love that haunted Haggard throughout his life, combined with feelings of guilt and disgust at his early sexual encounters, led him to believe that it was the fire of sex that destroyed the otherwise untarnished beauty of pure love. It is this belief that powered his vivid description of the transformation scene in She where the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’ who had lived for an eternity withers and dies in the flames immediately prior to marrying the man she had always loved.

Haggard, the ill-educated younger son of a blustering Norfolk Squire, was inspired by these secret inner feelings to write, in a golden five-year period that started when he was twenty-nine, five books that were the sensation of his age – ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, ‘Allan Quatermain’, ‘Jess’, ‘She’ and ‘Cleopatra’. The last, he dedicated to his mother whom he always loved deeply and appears to have written to please her. Shortly after ‘Cleopatra’ was published, she died. A few weeks later, Haggard finished ‘Nada the Lily’ and that too was justifiably a great success. He was at the height of his success and at an age when many writers had just begun their careers but with his mother’s death he seemed to lose his inspiration and his obsession to write. He did not start another book for sixteen months. During the next twelve years, he did write another twenty-five novels but much time and effort were spent producing non-fiction books that are now all but forgotten although one at least, ‘A Farmer’s Year’ is a charming and illuminating literary gem. For the rest of his life, writing novels became a way of earning money and his interests and quest for success were concentrated on agricultural research, politics, business and public service.

In his meticulously researched biography, D.S. Higgins explores the many mysteries of Haggard’s life, revealing a man more complex than had previously been understood and whose work is acknowledged as having influenced many writers including Rudyard Kipling, Henry Miller, C.S. Lewis and Graham Greene.

Higgins’s delvings into the network of fear, compulsion, and guilt that rose out of Haggard’s relations with women justify the new biography most convincingly.
–Kathleen McCormack, ‘Science Fiction Studies’, #32 = Volume 11, Part 1

Lilly Archer, née Jackson… These details were not generally known until the publication of Haggard’s 1981 biography by Sydney Higgins. –Wikipedia,

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