|Allan Quatermain character|
Quatermain depicted by Charles H. M. Kerr in the frontispiece to Allan Quatermain (1887)
|Created by||H. Rider Haggard|
Allan Quatermain is the protagonist of H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines and its sequels. Allan Quatermain was also the title of a book in this sequence. An English professional big game hunter and adventurer, in film and television he has been portrayed by Richard Chamberlain, Sean Connery, Cedric Hardwicke, Patrick Swayze and Stewart Granger among others.
The character Quatermain is an English-born professional big game hunter and occasional trader in southern Africa, who supports colonial efforts to 'spread civilization' in the 'dark continent', though he also favours native Africans having a say in their affairs. An outdoorsman who finds English cities and climate unbearable, he prefers to spend most of his life in Africa, where he grew up under the care of his widower father, a Christian missionary.
In the earliest-written novels, native Africans refer to Quatermain as Macumazahn, meaning "Watcher-by-Night," a reference to his nocturnal habits and keen instincts. In later-written novels, Macumazahn is said to be a short form of Macumazana, meaning "One who stands out." Quatermain is frequently accompanied by his native servant, the Hottentot Hans, a wise and caring family retainer from his youth. His sarcastic comments offer a sharp critique of European conventions. In his final adventures, Quatermain is joined by two British companions, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good of the Royal Navy, and by his African friend Umslopogaas.
The series spans 50 years of Quatermain's life, from 18 to 68; at the start of the foundation novel King Solomon's Mines he has just turned 55, giving him a birthdate of 1830. Physically, he is small, wiry, and unattractive, with a beard and short hair that sticks up. His one skill is his marksmanship, where he has no equal. Quatermain is aware that as a professional hunter, he has helped to destroy his beloved wild free places of Africa. In old age he hunts without pleasure, having no other means of making a living.
About Quatermain's family, little is written. He lives at Durban, in Natal, South Africa. He marries twice, but is quickly widowed both times. He entrusts the printing of memoirs in the series to his son Harry, whose death he mourns in the opening of the novel Allan Quatermain. Harry Quatermain is a medical student who dies of smallpox while working in a hospital. Haggard did not write the Quatermain novels in chronological order, and made errors with some details. Quatermain's birth, age at the time of his marriages, and age at the time of his death cannot be reconciled to the apparent date of Harry's birth and age at death.
Although some of Haggard's Quatermain novels stand alone, there are two important series. In the Zulu trilogy, Marie (1912), Child of Storm (1913), and Finished (1917), Quatermain becomes ensnared in the vengeance of Zikali, the dwarf wizard known as "The-thing-that-should-never-have-been-born" and "Opener-of-Roads." Zikali plots and finally achieves the overthrow of the Zulu royal House of Senzangakona, founded by Shaka and ending under Cetewayo (Cetshwayo kaMpande) (Haggard's questionable spelling of Zulu names is used in the first instance).
These novels are prequels to the foundation pair, King Solomon's Mines (1885) and Allan Quatermain (1887), which describe Quatermain's discovery of vast wealth, his discontent with a life of ease, and his fatal return to Africa following the death of his son Harry.
With She and Allan (1920), Haggard engineered a crossover between his two most popular series, uniting Quatermain with Ayesha, the central character of his hugely successful "She" novels, and bringing in several other key characters from each series--Hans, Umslopogaas, and Zikali from the Quatermain series, and Bilali, Ayesha's faithful minister. This book formed the third part of the "She" trilogy, although in chronological terms, it necessarily served as a prequel to the first two "She" books, since Holly and Leo, the protagonists of the first two books, both die at the end of the second novel.
Dates of events in Allan Quatermain's life and Ayesha's, are shown at left. Dates of publication in book form are shown at right.
The four Ayesha novels are marked (*). Allan Quatermain and Umslopogaas appears only in She and Allan (1921), third-published of the four, and second in the fictional Ayesha chronology.
The three Umslopogaas novels are marked (**). Ayesha appears only in She and Allan (1921), the third-published of the three, and second in the fictional Umslopogaas chronology, along with Allan Quatermain, who also appears in the 1887 novel Allan Quatermain, which marks the last chronological appearance of the iconic character created by Haggard, which is chronologically followed by Ayesha: The Return of She (1905).
|Chronological year||Title||Publication year|
|c. 380s BC - c. 330s BC||(*) Wisdom's Daughter||1923|
|c. 1800 - c. 1829||(**) Nada the Lily||1892|
|c. 1830s - c. 1840||The Ghost Kings||1908|
|1842-1843||"Allan's Wife", title story in the collection Allan's Wife||1889|
|1854-1856||Child of Storm||1913|
|1858||"A Tale of Three Lions", included in the collection Allan's Wife||1887|
|1859||Maiwa's Revenge: or, The War of the Little Hand||1888|
|1868||"Hunter Quatermain's Story", included in the collection Allan's Wife||1887|
|1869||"Long Odds", included in the collection Allan's Wife||1887|
|1870||The Holy Flower||1915|
|1871||Heu-heu: or, The Monster||1924|
|1872||(*)(**) She and Allan||1921|
|1873||The Treasure of the Lake||1926|
|1874||The Ivory Child||1916|
|1878||"Black Heart and White Heart - A Zulu Idyll", included in the collection Elissa||1896|
|1879||"Magepa the Buck", included in the collection Smith and the Pharaohs||1912|
|1880||King Solomon's Mines||1885|
|1881||(*) She: A History of Adventure||1886 (revised until 1896)|
|1882||The Ancient Allan||1920|
|1883||Allan and the Ice-gods||1927|
|1884-1885||(**) Allan Quatermain||1887|
|1899||(*) Ayesha: The Return of She||1905|
The Allan Quatermain character has been expanded greatly by modern writers; this use is possibly due to Haggard's works passing into the public domain, much like Sherlock Holmes.
The character was used by writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill in their series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, adapted to film in 2003, based on the premise that he faked his death to enjoy a quiet retirement.
In 2005, the first Allan Quatermain pastiche novel, The Great Detective at the Crucible of Life by Thomas Kent Miller, was published by Wildside Press. This novel is notable because it was the first prose fiction with Allan Quatermain as the protagonist to be published in 78 years since H. Rider Haggard's own Allan and the Ice-gods was published posthumously in 1927.
The character of Allan Quatermain has been portrayed in film and television by Richard Chamberlain, John Colicos, Sean Connery, Cedric Hardwicke, and Patrick Swayze. Stewart Granger also played Quatermain in the 1950 Hollywood film adaptation of King Solomon's Mines, which was directed by Compton Bennett. Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold is a film released in 1987 which is freely adapted from the plot of Haggard's 1887 novel. He was also featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, released in 2003, where he served as the team leader and a mentor and father-figure to American Secret Service agent Tom Sawyer, and the 2008 direct-to-DVD Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls. In 2010, it was announced that Sam Worthington would portray the character in an upcoming sci-fi adaptation of King Solomon's Mines.
The real-life adventures of Frederick Selous, the British big game hunter and explorer of Colonial Africa, inspired Haggard to create the Allan Quatermain character. Haggard was also heavily influenced by other larger-than-life adventurers whom he later met in Africa, most notably American Scout Frederick Russell Burnham. He was further influenced by South Africa's vast mineral wealth and by the ruins of ancient lost civilizations being uncovered in Africa, such as Great Zimbabwe. The similarities are striking between Haggard's close friend Burnham and his Quatermain character: both were small and wiry Victorian adventurers in colonial Africa; both sought and discovered ancient treasures and civilizations; both battled large wild animals and native peoples; both were renowned for their ability to track, even at night; and both men had similar nicknames (Quatermain, "Watcher-by-Night"; Burnham, "He-who-sees-in-the-dark").
The beliefs and views of the fictional Quatermain are those of Haggard himself, and beliefs that were common among the 19th-century European colonists. These include conventional Victorian ideas concerning the superiority of the white race; an admiration for "warrior races," such as the Zulu; a disdain for natives corrupted by white influences; and a general contempt for Afrikaners (Boers). But in other ways Haggard's views were advanced for his times. The first chapter of King Solomon's Mines contains an express denunciation of the use of the pejorative term "nigger." Quatermain frequently encounters natives who are more brave and wise than Europeans, and women (black and white) who are smarter and emotionally stronger than men (though not necessarily as good; cf. the title character of "She"). Through the Quatermain novels and his other works, Haggard also expresses his own mysticism and interest in non-Christian concepts, particularly karma and reincarnation, though he expresses these concepts in such a way as to be compatible with the Christian faith.
Quatermain was one of the templates for the American film character Indiana Jones, featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The route to King Solomon's Mines described by Haggard was also referred to in the movie The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines, specifically the reference to Sheba's Breasts and Three Witches Mountain, which are geographical features mentioned by Quatermain in the novel.
The entire Indiana Jones franchise - films, television's Young Indiana Jones, books, games, comics, merchandise, Disneyland adventure-ride, & Indy imitations such as Romancing the Stone - owes everything to H. Rider Haggard as filtered through lowbudget film serials (themselves frequently inspired by Haggard). Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones as a hyperactive American version of Allan Quatermain
The Republic Serials were most strongly influenced by Sir Henry Rider Haggard's "white man explores savage Africa" stories, in particular King Solomon's Mines (1886)
Based on an 1885 novel by Henry Rider Haggard, the exploits of Alan Quartermain have long served as a template for the Indiana Jones character. In this particular film, King Solomon's Mines (1950), Quartermain finds himself unwillingly thrust into a worldwide search for the legendary mines of King Solomon. The look and feel of Indiana and his past adventures are quite apparent here, and his new quest follows some very similar through lines. Like Quartermain, Jones is reluctantly forced into helping the Russians find the Lost Temple of Akator and the Crystal Skulls mentioned in the film's title. Both Quartermain and Jones are confronted by angry villagers and a myriad of dangerous booby traps. Look to King Solomon's Mines for a good idea on the feel and tone Lucas and Spielberg are after with their latest Indiana Jones outing.