December, 1886: Following the enormous success of his previous book, King Solomon’s Mines, novelist H. Rider Haggard writes to fellow author George Barnett Smith and, fearing its dark tone will limit the novel’s audience, pessimistically introduces his new book, She. He needn’t have worried. To this day She remains one of the most successful and influential novels of all time, having sold over 80 million copies in 44 languages by the year 1965.
69, GUNTERSTONE ROAD,
29. Dec. 86
Dear Mr. Barnett Smith,
I am sending you a copy of my new book which I hope that you will accept. I don’t know how you will like it. It is a humble attempt to deal with the probable effect of immortality informing the substance of the mortal, not an easy subject. I fear that the atmosphere of gloom & terror necessarily surrounding such a subject may prevent the book from being as popular as K. S. Mines with the general as distinguished from the cultivated public. Myself however, I think that ‘She’ is worth 20 K. S. Mines, certainly it has cost me nearly twenty times as much thoumght & labour.
Hoping that you may like it believe me
Very truly yours,
H. Rider Haggard