Allan Quatermain: The Books and Movies
Allan Quatermain was:
- A character in Rider Haggard’s series written between 1885 and 1925.
- Indiana Jones is based on him
- The books continue to be read and filmed more than 130 years after they were written.
- He wasn’t good-looking.
My Personal Relationship with Allan Quatermain
The year was 1965. I was at boarding school, a forbidden flashlight under the blanket, and I was reading Allan Quatermain by Sir Rider Haggard. It was three in the mornign, but I could not put the book down. If I have to think about it, the only books that came close to that kind of absorption were Asimov’s Foundation, Herbert’s Dune, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Golon’s Angelique. Of all fictional characters that heavily touched me, the three main characters of the book Allan Quatermain - Allan, Sir Henry Curtis, and Umslopogaas – stand out the most for me. They beat – hands down - Dune’s Muad'Dib and Angelique’s Joffrey de Peyrac. To this day, more than half a century on, I still feel deep surges of emotion when I think of those three characters.
Who was Allan Quatermain?
Allan Quatermain, a professional hunter, was the original Indiana Jones. Like Indy, Allan went in search of – and discovered – fabulous relics, treasures, and civilizations. He fought wild animals and tribes. He was the original white hunter, and even though he didn’t have Indy’s good looks and humour, he certainly was an adventurer and explorer with the best of them! Quatermain was the hero of a series of books written between 1885 and 1925 by Sir Rider Haggard. (Two books were published posthumously.)
Quatermain was short, less-than-goodlooking, had a beard, and was skeletal in frame. He was an outstanding tracker – even at night. His nickname was Macumazahn, which according to various sources, meant either watcher-by-night or one-who-stands-out. He is also an excellent shot.
Quatermain, in the series, is based in Durban, Natal, South Africa. He is twice married and twice widowed. He loses his only son to smallpox. No exact chronological order can be ascertain from the seventeen novels in the series as the information he provides clashes at times. It can only be assumed that Haggard was more interested in the adventures to be had in Africa than the personal life of his hero. And, yet, even so, the deep emotions he evokes in his writing, makes his books worth every investment in reading them.
Towards the end of his life, he becomes the modern equivalent of an environmentalist as he realizes that the wilds of Africa are being destroyed. He no longer has the wealth of his earlier years, and he is doomed to hunt in order to earn a living.
Spoiler alert. Wiki does a summary of Allan Quatermain, the second last book in the series, as well as the second book he wrote.
Full Length Movie: King Solomon's Mines Starring Patrick Swayze
Allan Quatermain Audio Books
The books were not written in chronological order, but it’s probably best to read them in chronological order – rather than in the order in which they were published. I read Allan Quatermain first, and then King Solomon’s Mines. After I read those I gradually read my way through the series. Unhappily, in those days (the 60s), we did not have the Internet, and it was difficult to find all the books. It took me a decade to read through the series.
How wonderful that today, you can download the entire audio series of Allan Quatermain and listen to them as the books are now in the public domain.
Even better, because the books are now in the public domain, you can download them from google play if you prefer to read them.
Here, for your reading pleasure, are the series in order.
Trailer: Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone
Allan Quatermain - Chronological Order of Action
c. 2000 BC: Wisdom's Daughter
c. 1800 – c. 1829 Nada the Lily
1842–1843 Allan's Wife title story in the collection Allan's Wife
1854–1856 Child of Storm
1858 A Tale of Three Lions included in the collection Allan's Wife
1859 Maiwa's Revenge: or, The War of the Little Hand
1868 Hunter Quatermain's Story, included in the collection Allan's Wife
1869 Long Odds included in the collection Allan's Wife
1870 The Holy Flower
1871 Heu-heu or The Monster
1872 She and Allan
1873 The Treasure of the Lake
1874 The Ivory Child
1878 Black Heart and White Heart - A Zulu Idyll
1879 Magepa the Buck, included in the collection Smith and the Pharaohs
1880 King Solomon's Mines
1881 She: A History of Adventure
1882 The Ancient Allan
1883 Allan and the Ice-gods
1884–1885 Allan Quatermain
1899 Ayesha: The Return of She
1937 Movie King Solomon's Mines starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Allan Quatermain Influences
The books are probably not the easiest read in the world as they have a high level of English, and they are much more detailed than books written today. Yet I must confess that much of my own style of writing stems from reading Victorian literature. I love the way the English is written.
Rider Haggard was himself influenced by real life adventurers while working in South Africa.
In my book The Sorceress and the Prince of Egypt, as my heroes and heroine make their way along the coast of east Africa, I see influences of Allan Quatermain, not the least of which I named my heroine Ayesha – she-who-must-be-obeyed. More than that, it encouraged me to research many of Africa’s myths and tribes. In doing so, I learnt a lot about the continent I was born on. I consider it a pity that so little is known of the rich cultural heritage of Africa.
While the Dark Panther movie made use of much African mythology, it is nothing compared to what Haggard touched on in his series. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy, Philip José Farmer, and Abraham Merritt were all influenced in their writing by the characters created by Haggard.
Audio Book of Allan Quatermain by Sir Rider Haggard
Emotional Impact of Quatermain Stories
Good books stir emotions, and while we are all accustomed to laughing and thrilling at the adventures of Indy, Allan stirs us at levels I cannot begin to describe. Haggard is a master storyteller. He not only keeps us enthralled with marvellous descriptions of Africa – some more rooted in science fiction than fact, his stories cannot easily be put down. I still recall the grief, the fascination, the adventure, and the romance all these years later. I still cannot think of Allan Quatermain and the characters he created without deep stirrings of emotion.
List of Allan Quatermain Movies
The character of Allan Quatermain laid the foundation for the Indiana Jones movies, but even though the Indy franchise has been highly successful (thanks mostly to Harrison Ford), the Allan Quatermain character still managers to out-do Indy in the number of movies filmed.
Allan Quatermain (1919
King Solomon’s Mines 1937
King Solomon’s Mines 1950
King Solomon’s Mines 1985
King Solomon’s Mines 1986
King Solomon’s Mines 2004
Totally loved Richard Chamberlain in King Solomon's Mines!
Have you ever read a book with Allan Quatermain as the hero?
About Rider Haggard - The Author
Sir Henry Rider Haggard, KBE, 22 June 1856 – 14 May 1925) was an English writer of adventure fiction mostly set in Africa. He was the first to write about the lost world literary genre. In real life, he was involved in agricultural reform throughout the British Empire.
Perhaps Haggard was able to write with such pathos about the loss of love as he was forbidden to marry the woman he loved by (Lily Jackson) his father. In later years, after Lily’s fortune was squandered by her husband, and her husband fled to Africa, Lily followed him there. He infected her with syphilis, and she returned to England where Haggard looked after her until she passed.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger