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H. Rider Haggard’s She: A Bestselling Fantasy

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle sings the praises of one of the most popular novels of all time

This column, Dispatches from The Secret Library, is named after my first book aimed at a general (rather than narrowly academic) readership, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, the idea being to examine lesser-known books which were once much more popular than they are now. This week’s book is slightly different in that it’s still in print and enjoyed by a fairly large group of people (to judge from the fact that there are still quite a few good editions in print), but I think it qualifies as a ‘secret library’ book because its present popularity is nothing compared with its past success. I’m talking of H. Rider Haggard’s She, subtitled A History of Adventure, but as much an adventure through history, into the deep past of early civilisation, told with Rider Haggard’s trademark flair for addictive storytelling.

H. Rider Haggard’s She (Oxford World’s Classics) (1887) is reckoned to be one of the bestselling novels ever published: by 1965 it had sold some Read the rest of this entry