Rider Haggard is remembered as the author of adventure novels, which shocked and fascinated not only Victorian and Edwardian Britain, but the world. Films of his books - notable "King Solomon's Mines" and "She" have been made, but Haggard, a Norfolk squire, saw his writing only as an amusing and lucrative pastime. The other Haggard, statesman and creator of a world of fact is explored in this book. His imagination was held by the reality of the British Empire and its future rather than the lost civilizations of his literary fantasies.
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Tom Pocock is the author of 18 books (and editor of two more), mostly biographies but including two about his experiences as a newspaper war correspondent. Born in London in 1925 - the son of the novelist and educationist Guy Pocock - he was educated at Westminster School and Cheltenham College, joining the Royal Navy in 1943. He was at sea during the invasion of Normandy and, having suffered from ill-health, returned to civilian life and in 1945 became a war correspondent at the age of 19,the youngest of the Second World War. After four years wth the Hulton Press current affairs magazine group, he moved to the Daily Mail as feature-writer and then Naval Correspondent, becoming Naval Correspondent of The Times in 1952. In 1956, he was a foreign corresponent and special writer for the Daily Express and from 1959 was on the staff of the Evening Standard,as feature writer,Defence Correspondent and war correspondent. For the last decade of his time on the Standard he was Travel Editor. He wrote his first book, NELSON AND HIS WORLD in 1967 on his return from reporting the violence in Aden and his interest in Nelson has continued. Indeed, eight of his books are about the admiral and his contemporaries; his HORATIO NELSON was runner-up for the Whitbread Biography Award of 1987. Tom Pocock has contributed to many magazines and appeared on television documentaries about Nelson and the subject of another of his biographies,the novelist and imperialist Sir Rider Haggard.From Booklist:
In Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire, the 1987 biography of Holden Caulfield's favorite author, Wendy Katz takes Haggard to task for his anti-Semitism. That's unfair and possibly irrelevant, Pocock says; one can, from Haggard's voluminous writings, find proof of his anti-Semitism as well as of his support for an independent Jewish state. Instead of attacking his anti-Semitism, one might praise his progressive--for the nineteenth century--views on racial concerns in South Africa and his admiration of the Zulus. In any event, Haggard's many and vigorous opinions on agriculture and international affairs have all perished, while his novels endure. With King Solomon's Mines, She, and Allan Quatermain, Haggard virtually invented the "lost city" subgenre of science fiction that has been a thousand times imitated, from the pulp tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs through Spielberg's Indiana Jones trilogy. Pocock aims to reconstruct the life through Haggard's eyes, so he makes much of Haggard's difficult father, his love--and premonitions concerning the death--of his son, his lost first love, his marriage, his attempts at ostrich ranching in South Africa, and valuably, his long and profitable friendship with Rudyard Kipling. An evenhanded, restorative biography of one of England's great minor writers. John Mort
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