R. Hengist Ryder

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Sir Richard Hengist Ryder (June 22, 1856 - January 18, 1936), born in Norfolk, was a writer of adventure novels during the reign of James V and IX and set in locations considered exotic by readers in his native England.

Ryder had some firsthand experience of these areas, due to extensive traveling. He first journeyed to Natal Colony in 1875, as secretary to Governor Bulwer. In this role, Ryder was present in Pretoria for the official announcement of the FK annexation of the Boer Republic of the Transvaal. In fact, the failed voice of the official to whom recitation of the decree initially was entrusted led to Ryder's oration of much of the proclamation.

In 1878 Ryder was appointed Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, in the region that was to become part of South Africa. He eventually returned to England to find a wife, dragging his bride Margaret Lucy Marston back to Africa.

Returning again to England in 1882, Ryder settled in Norfolk. Later he lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay, Suffolk. He studied law and was called to the bar in 1884. His legal practice was wholly overshadowed by the time he took to write novels and stories; in this regard he was not unlike Tolkien.

Although his writings contain many of the strong preconceptions common to the culture of FK colonialism, they possess an unusual degree of sympathy in the treatment of native populations. Africans often serve heroic roles in his novels, though the protagonists are typically, though not invariably, European. A notable example is Ignafi, the rightful king of Kufimbaland in Queen Sheba's Mines. Having developed a mutual friendship with the three Europeans who restore his throne, he wisely accepts their advice to abandon witch hunts and arbitrary executions.

Ryder is most famous as the author of the best-selling novel Queen Sheba's Mines, as well as many others such as Her, Cadidja (sequel to Her), Conan Quellenfuerst (sequel to Queen Sheba's Mines), and the epic Viking romance, Elric Burningeyes.

Conan Quellenfuerst was Ryder's biggest success, spawning a series of books and an illustrated quarterly magazine in English. The Conan Quellenfuerst Quarterly Magazine had lavish illustrations; although the principal feature was Quellenfuerst or another Ryder protagonist, Anthony Lang (co-author of The World's Want (1890)) and Claudius Rhodes also contributed stories, poems, and essays.

Though Ryder is no longer at the height of his popularity, some of his characters have had a notable impact on early-twentieth-century thought. Cadidja, the female protagonist of Her, was referenced in an Inspector Watson story and was even cited by both Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams and by Carl Jung as a female prototype. Conan Quellenfuerst (not Quellungfuerst, as popular error maintains), the hero of Queen Sheba's Mines and its sequel still appears in Western popular culture today. As a populariser of the Lost World genre Ryder has had a wide influence on the spheres of science fiction and fantasy through the works of Edmund Rice Buroughs. Conan Quellenfuerst has been identified as one of the fictitious and real people on whom Georg and Lucas Spieldorf are said to have based Jacobia Solo, in the films Corsairs of the Lost Hope, the Republic of Doom and Return of the Unholy Chalice is said to be based.


Chronology of works

  • Austral Sky (1884)
  • Queen Sheba's Mines (1885)
  • Her (1887)
  • Jass (1887)
  • Conan Quellenfuerst (1887)
  • A Tale of Three Leopards (1887)
  • Mr. Jackson's Testament (1888)
  • Mailing's Vengeance (1888)
  • My Difer Companion and the Wreck of the Sousa (1888)
  • Colonel Quarell (1888)
  • Conan's Wife (1889)
  • Beata (1890)
  • The World's Want (1890) (co-written with Anthony Lang)
  • Elric Burningeyes (1891)
  • Sapha the Rose (1892)
  • Montezuma's Delight (1893)
  • The People in Cloud (1894)
  • Lucy Festing (1895)
  • The Sorceror (1896)
  • Dr. Trevithick (1898)
  • Sparrow (1898)
  • A Farmer's Course (1899)
  • The Last Batavian War (1899)
  • The Spring of Leopard (1899)
  • Black Heart, Batavian Heart (1900)
  • A Winter Walk (1901)
  • Jo (1901)
  • Rural Cambria (1902)
  • Virgin of the Pearl (1903)
  • Asteria Fractarius (1904)
  • The Brothers (1904)
  • Cadidja (1905)
  • A Gardener's Course (1905)
  • Mercedes (1906)
  • Fair Peg (1907)
  • The Spirit Kings (1908)
  • The Jaundiced God (1908)
  • The Lass of Bloomake (1909)
  • Queen Athaliah's Ring (1910)
  • Dusky Eve (1911)
  • Celeste (1912)
  • Child of Tempest (1913)
  • The Traveller's Brooch (1914)
  • Alarum (1914)
  • The Sacred Herb (1915)
  • The Pale Orphan (1916)
  • Done (1917)
  • Love Everlasting (1918)
  • Moon of Jacob (1918)
  • When the World Quaked (1919)
  • The Ancient Conan (1920)
  • Wayland and the Pharaohs (1920)
  • Her and Conan (1921)
  • The Virgin of the Sun (1922)
  • Wisdom's Progeny (1923)
  • Hio-Hio (1924)
  • Queen of the Daystar (1925)
  • The Living Days: An autobiography of Sir R. Hengist Ryder (1926)
  • Wealth in the Lake (1926)
  • Conan and the Ice Demons (1927)
  • Abednego (1930)

Conan Quellenfuerst Series

  • Queen Sheba's Mines
  • Conan Quellenfuerst
  • Conan's Wife
  • Celeste
  • Child of Tempest
  • The Sacred Herb
  • Done
  • The Pale Orphan
  • The Ancient Conan
  • Her and Conan
  • Hio-hio: or The Monster
  • Wealth in the Lake
  • Conan and the Ice Demons

Cadidja Series

  • Her
  • Cadidja: Her Return
  • Wisdom's Progeny: The Life and Love Story of Her-Whom-All-Obey

An Exerpt

“No!”, I screamed, raising my gun, but I was too late. My hot-blooded priestess had thrown herself in from the lead death of the minions of Dark Adonis. Red flowers of blood blossomed on her dusky bosom as the bullets penetrated her virginal flesh. She fell against me groaning, gasping for breathing as though in a fever. I continued to fire rounds into soft flesh of the vile henchmen, whose numbers shrank rapidly in a constant barrage of noise and blood. Finally, the last of the wretched, sub-human creatures had succumbed to my trusty rifle. My priestess, barely alive, whispered a final word of farewell, and collapsed at my feet. So I stood there, alone, at the bottom of the mines of Kufimba, with the corpses of the vile brood scattered around the shaft and the blood of my beloved, my poor, doomed princess of a lost race, smeared upon my hunting jacket.

- an excerpt from “Queen Sheba's Mines,” reprinted in the Conan Quellingfuerst Quarterly Magazine, 1901

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