Documentary looking at the work of adventure writer Henry Rider Haggard, most famous today for his much filmed novel King Solomon’s Mines. Rider Haggard’s tales of lost civilisations, death defying escapades and plucky British adventurers brought him a Dan Brown level of popularity in the Victorian era. He fuelled the fantasies of generations of boys – among those sharing the thrills and spills are Jonathan Ross, John Sessions, Sir John Mortimer and Iain Duncan Smith. Though these fantastical tales of daring don’t just appeal to boys; also featured are hardcore Haggard fans Fay Weldon, Penelope Lively and acclaimed fantasy writer Kate Mosse.
Adventurer Benedict Allen – who was inspired to become an explorer through his boyhood reading of King Solomon’s Mines – shows how Haggard’s time as a remarkably progressive colonial official resulted in the ground-breakingly strong native characters in his novels. He also traces the tragic story of the love of Haggard’s life, dramatised in his controversial female dominated novel She, and how the recurring hero of many of Haggard’s novels, Allan Quatermain, was the model for Indiana Jones.