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MAMEENA AND OTHER PLAYS (article first published : 2007-08-10)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Press recently launched Mameena and Other Plays: The Complete Dramatic Works of H. Rider Haggard edited by Stephen Coan and Alfred Tella.

Best known as the author of King Solomon’s Mines, She and Allan Quatermain, H. Rider Haggard also wrote three full-length plays.

Mameena, based on Haggard’s novel Child of Storm, is set in Zululand during the 1850s and deals with the struggle for the succession to the Zulu throne. Mameena was staged in 1914 by actor-manager Oscar Asche, who employed the Zulu expert James Stuart as technical adviser on the production.

Star of Egypt was adapted from Haggard’s Ancient Egyptian romance Morning Star, while the historical melodrama To Hell or Connaught, set against the backdrop of the Cromwellian colonisation of Ireland, was written expressly for the stage.

All three plays are published here for the first time, together with previously unrecorded information on how they came to be written and, in the case of Mameena, performed.

Stephen Coan is a feature writer and assistant editor of Pietermaritzburg’s daily newspaper, The Witness. Alfred Tella is an economist and former Georgetown University research professor in the USA.




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