Henry Rider Haggard and the Imperial War

Henry Rider Haggard and the Imperial War

This post was only possible with the energetic assistance of the Secretary of the Rider Haggard Society and the enthusiastic support of its members, and with the advice of the Curator of the Bungay Museum. Any inaccuracies in what follows are the fault of this writer, a long-time admirer of Rider Haggard’s novels, but a recent acquaintance with his life. www.riderhaggardsociety.org.uk/

Henry Rider Haggard was a Norfolk countryman by birth and inclination: born on 22 June 1856, his father was the squire of Bradenham near Swaffham and his mother a literary and romantic woman who had grown up in India. He was their eighth child, and thought rather unpromising by his father. Yet, on his departure for Africa in July 1875 at the age of twenty-one, his mother, Ella, wrote these beautiful lines to her son:

That Life is granted, not in Pleasure’s round,

Or even Love’s sweet dream, to lapse content:

Duty and Faith are words of solemn sound,

And to their echoes must thy soul be bent. …

 

So, go thy way, my Child! I love thee well:

How well, no heart but mother’s heat may know –

Yet One loves better, – more than words can tell, –

Then trust Him, now and evermore; – and go!   H. Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life, 1912

For much of his life, after returning from Africa in 1881, he lived at Ditchingham House on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney, close to Bungay.

Ditchingham is a distinctly cosy Norfolk village, small and picturesque. Ditchingham House is a typical Norfolk home. It stands in the midst of a perfect shelter provided by the surrounding elms and beeches, for the winds which come across from the glorious valley of the Waveney, and over the Bath Hills, or the Earl’s Vineyard as it was once called – one of the prettiest hillsides in this part of Norfolk – are keen and cutting, and blow hard o’ nights. Here Mr. Rider Haggard – barrister, justice of the peace, farmer and novelist – lives.    Source: Illustrated Interview, Mr H. Rider Haggard, The Strand Magazine, 1892

Ditchingham House pictured in a postcard c.1920
Source: collection of the writer

Continue reading

Advertisements