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Authors: H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon's Mines

Table of Contents
From the Pages of
King Solomon’s Mines
“A sharp spear,” runs the Kukuana saying, “needs no polish;” and on the same principle I venture to hope that a true story, however strange it may be, does not require to be decked out in fine words.
(page 8)
There, there, it is a cruel and a wicked world, and for a timid man I have been mixed up in a deal of slaughter. (page 10)
“I am a fatalist, and believe that my time is appointed to come quite independently of my own movements, and that if I am to go to Suliman’s Mountains to be killed, I shall go there and shall be killed there. God Almighty, no doubt, knows His mind about me, so I need not trouble on that point.” (page 30)
“There is no journey upon this earth that a man may not make if he sets his heart to it.” (page 49)
“If we cannot find water we shall all be dead before the moon rises to-morrow.” (page 58)
There he sat, a sad memento of the fate that so often overtakes those who would penetrate into the unknown; and there probably he will still sit, crowned with the dread majesty of death, for centuries yet unborn, to startle the eyes of wanderers like ourselves, if any such should ever come again to invade his loneliness. (page 70)
“The diamonds are surely there, and you shall have them since you white men are so fond of toys and money.” (page 92)
“The sun is dying—the wizards have killed the sun.” (page 124)
I shook my head and looked again at the sleeping men, and to my tired and yet excited imagination it seemed as though death had already touched them. My mind’s eye singled out those who were sealed to slaughter, and there rushed in upon my heart a great sense of the mystery of human life, and an overwhelming sorrow at its futility and sadness. To-night these thousands slept their healthy sleep, to-morrow they, and many others with them, ourselves perhaps among them, would be stiffening in the cold; their wives would be widows, their children fatherless, and their place know them no more for ever. (page 131)
Suddenly, with a bound and a roar, they sprang forward with uplifted spears, and the two regiments met in deadly strife. Next second, the roll of the meeting shields came to our ears like the sound of thunder, and the whole plain seemed to be alive with flashes of light reflected from the stabbing spears. To and fro swung the heaving mass of struggling, stabbing humanity. (page 146)
“We are the richest men in the whole world,” I said. “Monte Christo is a fool to us.” (page 183)
There around us lay treasures enough to pay off a moderate national debt, or to build a fleet of ironclads, and yet we would gladly have bartered them all for the faintest chance of escape. (page 188)
Published by Barnes & Noble Books
122 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
King Solomon’s Mines
was first published in 1885.
Published in 2004 by Barnes & Noble Classics with new Introduction,
Notes, Biography, Chronology, Inspired By, Comments & Questions,
and For Further Reading.
Introduction, Notes, and For Further Reading
Copyright © 2004 by Benjamin Ivry.
Note on H. Rider Haggard, The World of H. Rider Haggard and
King Solomon’s Mines,
Inspired by
King Solomon’s Mines,
Comments & Questions
Copyright © 2004 by Barnes & Noble, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Barnes & Noble Classics and the Barnes & Noble Classics colophon are trademarks of Barnes & Noble, Inc.
King Solomon’s Mines
ISBN-13: 978-1-59308-275-8 ISBN-10: 1-59308-275-4
eISBN : 978-1-411-43249-9
LC Control Number 2004110078
Produced and published in conjunction with:
Fine Creative Media, Inc.
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Michael J. Fine, President and Publisher
Printed in the United States of America
3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
H. Rider Haggard
H. Rider Haggard wrote King Solomon’s Mines, the story goes, after his brother bet him he couldn’t pen a book as exotic, thrilling, and commercially successful as Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 adventure novel
Treasure Island.
Haggard succeeded, and went on to write dozens more best-selling tales. Though his family initially had low expectations for him, Haggard not only made a living as an author; he also learned Zulu, brokered peace treaties, took part in the annexing of territories, and acted as the British Empire’s right-hand man in the diamond- and gold-rich colonies of South Africa.
Born on June 22, 1856, in Norfolk, England, Henry Rider Haggard was the eighth of ten children. His father was a country squire and barrister; his mother was an Englishwoman raised in India. Haggard exhibited little academic ambition during his youth and did not attend university. After he failed the army entrance exam, he was sent to London to prepare for a post in the Foreign Office. In 1875 family connections secured him a job as secretary to Governor Henry Bulwer in Britain’s Natal colony in South Africa. For the next four years, Haggard served the British Empire in various capacities, storing in his mind settings and events he would later use in his novels. He witnessed tense rebellions and outright war, served as a diplomat and aide, and hunted big game for sport—the stuff of his countrymen’s wildest imaginings. However modern society may interpret the ideas expressed in
King Solomon’s Mines,
Haggard’s tale is an imaginatively embellished reflection of direct experience, one that gives us a window into the British colonial mind.
In 1879 Haggard returned briefly to England, where he met an heiress from Norfolk, Louisa Margitson; they married the next year. The couple returned to Africa, but their stay was brief; in 1881 they returned to England, where Haggard read for the bar and began to write fiction.
King Solomon’s Mines,
published in 1885, was Haggard’s third novel and his first popular success. He followed up the best-seller with a string of other novels, including a wildly popular tale of a 2,000-year-old queen, She:
A History of Adventure
(1887). Personal suffering muted Haggard’s success when his nine-year-old son died in 1891. A daughter, Lilias, was born the next year; she would eventually publish a biography of her father.
Although he maintained a farm and country house in Norfolk, Haggard traveled to Egypt, Mexico, Canada, the United States, and South Africa. He lectured and published reports on agriculture, one of his fields of expertise. His work was often in the service of the British government, which honored him with a knighthood in 1912 and made him a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1919.
Haggard authored more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction in his lifetime. His psychologically complex novels about distant lands influenced writers from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to Joseph Conrad, C. S. Lewis, and Henry Miller. H. Rider Haggard died on May 14, 1925, in London.
The World of H. Rider Haggard
King Solomon’s Mines
Henry Rider Haggard is born the eighth of ten children on June 22 in Norfolk, England. His father, William, is a country squire and barrister; his mother, Ella Doveton, is an amateur writer who was raised in India. Great Britain establishes a crown colony in Natal, South Africa.
The Boers (South Africans of Dutch or Huguenot descent) establish the South African Republic in the region known as the Transvaal.
Charles Darwin publishes
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
Lewis Carroll’s
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
A diamond field is discovered in South Africa. Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.
Haggard fails the army entrance exams; his family sends him to London to be trained to join the Foreign Office.
While in London, Haggard experiments with spiritualism. His father arranges for him to go to South Africa, where he works as a secretary to the governor of Britain’s colony in Natal, Sir Henry Bulwer.
Haggard joins the staff of special commissioner Sir Theophilus Shepstone and hoists the flag at the British annexation of the Transvaal.
Haggard’s service earns him the position of master and registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal.
On January 22 Zulu King Cetshwayo’s army wipes out a British regiment that includes many of Haggard’s friends. In May Haggard resigns his post and returns to England.
Haggard marries a Norfolk heiress, Louisa Margitson; in November the two sail to Africa to live on a farm near the Transvaal border. Émile Zola publishes
whose realism Haggard will later denounce.
Jock, the Haggards’ first child, is born in May. When the Transvaal is ceded to the Boers, Haggard and his wife return to England, where Haggard reads for the bar.
Haggard publishes
Cetywayo and His White Neighbours; or, Remarks on Recent Events in Zululand, Natal, and the Transvaal ,
a nonfiction work that examines colonial relations in South Africa.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s
Treasure Island
is published.
Haggard is admitted to the bar and also publishes his first novel,
which is neither a commercial nor a critical success. Hiram Maxim invents the recoil-operated machine gun.
Haggard’s second novel,
The Witch’s Head,
is published but receives little notice. A five-shilling bet with his brother prompts Haggard to write
King Solomon’s Mines;
it is a huge commercial success and makes Haggard a household name.
Haggard publishes “About Fiction” in the February issue of the
Contemporary Review.
His popular novel
She: A History
about a 2,000-year-old white queen named Ayesha, is released; the book enthralls psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Three other novels set in South Africa—Jess,
Allan Quatermain
(the first of many sequels to
King Solomon’s Mines),
A Tale of Three Lions
—are also published. Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee, marking fifty years as ruler of the United Kingdom.
Haggard travels to Iceland to gather material for a novel about the Vikings. Maiwa’s Revenge, Colonel Quaritch,
V. C., My Fellow Labourer and the Wreck of the Copeland,
and Mr.
Meeson’s Will
are published.
The novels
Allan’s Wife
and Cleopatra are released.
Beatrice, a novel, is published. Haggard and Andrew Lang collaborate on the novel
The World’s Desire,
about Helen of Troy. Haggard travels to Mexico.
Eric Brighteyes,
a Viking romance set in Iceland, is published. When his nine-year-old son Jock dies, Haggard is griefstricken.
Nada the Lily
is published. Haggard’s daughter Lilias, his future biographer, is born, raising his spirits.
The novel
Montezuma’s Daughter
is published. Natal becomes a self-governing British colony.
The People of the Mist
appears. Rudyard Kipling’s
The Jungle Book
is published.
Joan Haste and Heart of the World
are published. Haggard is narrowly defeated in his bid for a seat in Parliament. H. G. Wells’s
The Time Machine
is published.
The Wizard
is published.
Doctor Therne
is published.
Two Boer territories—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State—declare war on Britain, thus beginning the South African War (Boer War). Haggard’s novel
The Spring of Lion
is published, as well as
The Last Boer War and A Farmer’s Year,
both works of nonfiction. Sigmund Freud publishes his
Interpretation of Dreams,
in which he describes a fascination with Haggard’s She.
Haggard travels through Italy, Palestine, and Cyprus. A
History of the Transvaal
is released.
Haggard’s reflections on his recent travels are published in A
Winter Pilgrimage. Lysbeth,
a novel, is also published. Queen Victoria dies.
The Boer War ends, with the Boers accepting British sovereignty . Haggard publishes
Rural England,
a two-volume study of the problem of depopulation. Joseph Conrad publishes his novella
Heart of Darkness
in book form.
a novel about the fall of Jerusalem, is released.
Haggard travels to Egypt. The historical novels
Stella Fregelius and The Brethren
are published.
Ayesha: The Return of She, a sequel to She, is published, as is the nonfiction A Gardener’s Year. Haggard is sent by the Rhodes Trust to research Salvation Army settlements in the western United States, with an eye to opening similar settlements in South Africa. His report on his research is published under the title
The Poor and the Land.
Benita: An African Romance
The Way of the Spirit
are published. Haggard joins the Royal Commission on Coast Erosion.
Fair Margaret,
a novel, is published. Kipling wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Ghost Kings
is published.
The Yellow God
The Lady of Blossholme
are released.
Queen Sheba’s Ring,
a novel based on Haggard’s research in Egypt, is published.
Morning Star,
another novel about Egypt, is published.
Rural Denmark and Its Lessons,
Haggard’s study of Danish farms, is published.
the first volume in Haggard’s fictionalized history of the Zulu people, is published. Haggard is knighted for his contributions to agricultural advancement. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publishes
The Lost World.
Child of Storm,
the second volume in Haggard’s Zulu trilogy, is published.
World War I begins.
The Holy Flower
is published.
The Ivory Child
is published.
the last volume of Haggard’s Zulu trilogy, is published.
Haggard is named a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) as a reward for his service on government commissions concerned with agriculture.
The Ancient Allan
is published.
She and Allan,
a sequel to
is published.
Wisdom’s Daughter, another
is published.
Heu-Heu; or, The Monster
is published.
Henry Rider Haggard dies on May 14 in London.
The Days of My Life: An Autobiography of Sir H. Rider Haggard
is released, as is another Quatermain adventure,
The Treasure of the Lake.
Allan and the Ice-Gods
is published.
A British film version of
King Solomon’s Mines
is made, with Paul Robeson as Umbopa and Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Allan Quatermain; some scenes are filmed on location in Natal.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer makes a film version of
King Solomon’s Mines
starring Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger.
Watusi: Guardians of King Solomon’s Mines,
a film based on Haggard’s novel, is released; it stars George Montgomery.
Haggard’s private diaries are published.
Sharon Stone, John Rhys-Davies, and Richard Chamberlain star in a film remake of
King Solomon’s Mines,
proving the enduring popularity of the 100-year-old novel.

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