Thank you to Charles F. French for hosting me with a post about King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard for his Underground Library Society. Charles has some wonderful books, fiction and non-fiction self help books for writers, so do take a look around while you are there.
I want to welcome Robbie Cheadle to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society! This group is an unofficial collection of people who deeply value books. It is based on the idea of The Book People from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Robbie is the newest member of this group of book lovers!
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
I decided to read King Solomon’s Mines as it is set in South Africa in the late 19th century. I am currently finalizing my first adult novel, A Ghost and His Gold, which is set during the Second Anglo Boer War. I hoped that King Solomon’s Mines would give me insight into life in southern Africa during this period.
Rider Haggard spent time in South Africa after he took a position as the assistant to the secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal in 1875. In 1876, he was transferred to the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. It was in this role that Sir Haggard was present in Pretoria, capital of the then Boer Republic of the Transvaal, in April 1877 when it was officially annexed by Britain. Sir Haggard was tasked with the duty of raising the Union flag and reading out much of the proclamation at the annexation event after the official originally entrusted with this duty lost his voice.
I had an interest in Sir Rider Haggard and his books because he lived in Ditchingham, a town close to my mother’s hometown of Bungay in Suffolk, England. When her brother was a young man he was employed by Sir Haggard and Sir Haggard daughter, Lilias Haggard, edited a book entitled The Rabbit Skin Cap which told the story of an old man who was well known to my mother. My mother’s memories of Sir Rider Haggard’s house and his daughter, Lilias, are included in the fictionalized memoir of her life, While the Bombs Fell, which we wrote together.
King Solomon’s Mines literary importance
King Solomon’s Mines is a book that is worth preserving because it is a rollicking good story with lots of action, written along similar lines to the famous Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. The author has a wonderful gift of descriptive writing and shares the beauty and mystery of Africa in a most appealing and interesting way. The author demonstrates a thorough knowledge of southern Africa and the way of life among the hunters of the time. An example of this glorious language is as follows: