Classic Novels for Home Educators
This is a guest blog post written by Michael McHugh.
Few home educators, including those who are involved with some form of “classical” learning, are familiar with the works of the novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925). This prolific author, best known for his classic novel King Solomon’s Mines, deserves to be re-discovered by a whole new generation of homeschool families. Henry Haggard wrote sixty-six novels during his lifetime, many of which are still in print to this day.
Before I proceed to recommend a select grouping of novels by this distinguished author, I will provide a brief biographical overview of his life and literary career.
Sir H. Rider Haggard was born in England on June 22, 1856. He was the eighth of ten children. During his childhood days, he received most of his primary and elementary education at home through private tutors and occasionally at a local grammar school. As a young man, Haggard also had his education broadened as he traveled with his parents on frequent trips to the European mainland.
In 1875, when Haggard was nineteen, he traveled to South Africa to work as a secretary for the newly appointed governor of Natal. Three years later, this young Englishman resigned his post at the high court of Pretoria to take up ostrich farming in Natal. After a period of two years, Henry Haggard decided to take an extended vacation and sail back to England to visit his family.
It was during this trip in 1880, that Haggard met a Norfolk heiress by the name of Mariana L. Margitson. After a brief period of courtship, this couple was married on August 11. The newlyweds soon returned to their farm in Natal in order to resume the business of farming. In his spare time, Henry Haggard began to work on his first manuscript and also took up the study of law. In 1882, Mr. & Mrs. Haggard decided to sell their farm in Natal and return to England.
H. Rider Haggard completed his law studies in 1884, and accepted a call to the bar of attorneys in London where he worked as an assistant to a chief judge. It was during this time that he made use of what he describes as his “somewhat ample leisure time in chambers” to write his first successful novel King Solomon’s Mines. This book, as he put it, “finally settled the question of whether to pursue a legal or literary career.”
Haggard traveled extensively throughout the world during much of his married life. The knowledge that he gained of the culture and terrain of little known civilizations equipped him to be able to skillfully write several adventure and historical fiction novels set in many different regions of the world. The recognition of his achievements as a writer were crowned in the year 1912, when Henry Rider Haggard was knighted.
Sir Haggard died in London on May 14, 1925, at the age of sixty-eight.
Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure to own and read several of the novels that were written by H. Rider Haggard. Although many of his literary works are focused merely on entertaining readers, he did produce a few novels that have genuine spiritual and historical value. My personal favorites are King Solomon’s Mines (1885), Lysbeth: A Tale of the Dutch (1900), Pearl Maiden: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem (1903), The Brethren: A Tale of the Crusades (1904), Fair Margaret (1907), Queen Sheba’s Ring, and The Lady of Blossholme (1909). Generally speaking, the works of H. Rider Haggard are best suited for those who are age twelve and above.
The seven novels by Sir H. Rider Haggard listed above are available from Christian Liberty Press. These novels would make wonderful gifts, and would also work well for summer reading, or as family “read aloud” books. In my own experience, I found that as I began to read each of these volumes, I did not want to put them down until I had reached the end. Particularly in cases where parents have a hard time trying to motivate their children to read good literature, I am confident that these classic novels by H. Rider Haggard will inspire even hesitant readers to read more regularly.
These novels can be ordered directly from Christian Liberty Press at shopchristianliberty.com, or by calling 1-800-832-2741.
Michael McHugh has worked for many years as a writer and editor for Christian Liberty Press in Arlington Heights, IL. During his twenty-five year journey as a homeschool dad, Mike has had the pleasure to read numerous classic books to his seven children.
Copyright 2015 Michael J. McHugh