She Who Must Be Obeyed

Shades of the Penge Bungalow Murders, Pomeroy’s Chateau Thames Embankment, and Rumple of the Old Bailey … but this She came much much earlier, 1887 to be exact. This She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is the She of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel, She: A History of Adventure. Her name (She’s name?) is actually Ayesha (no, not Tyler).

Perhaps you remember Ursula Andress in the 1965 adaptation of She (Ursula Andress is hard to forget). As it seems to go in films, the Hammer adaptation was not the first filming of She but more like the seventh. Here are a few of the actresses who portrayed the immortal Ayesha:

  • Marguerite Snow
  • Valeska Suratt
  • Betty Blythe
  • Helen Gahagan
  • Ursula Andress
  • Ophélie Winter.

She was even adapted into a Rock Opera.

She is considered H. Rider Haggard’s best known and most influential novel. I always considered King Solomon’s Mines his best but what do I know. She, believe it or not, was one of the first highly successful stories based on an undiscovered civilization hidden it the depths of a dark and dangerous wilderness. Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs, amongst others, used this fiction in stories and novels such as The Lost Continent and The Land That Time Forgot. Where would Professor Challenger be if it wasn’t for She?

The adventure and wonderment of She is somewhat quaint since we have experienced over 100 years of cinematic magic and nowadays can create new characters and new worlds with CGI, but that is also part of it’s charm. I think that much of the fantasy and adventure developed in 19th century fiction should be left to our reading enjoyment. Do we really want a CGI recreation of She starring Will Smith with Ann Coulter in the eponymous role?

I have always looked to H. Rider Haggard for adventure and excitement but sadly have not read very many of his novels and stories. I think I will add a few to my reading list: they are short and available for download since they are definitely in the public domain.


The Haggard bibliography from Wikipedia is quite extensive and I invite you to pursue it at your leisure. In the mean time, here are a few of the novels by H. Rider Haggard:

  • King Solomon’s Mines
  • Allan Quatermain
  • Nada the Lily
  • Marie
  • Finished
  • Allan’s Wife
  • Child of Storm
  • The Holy Flower
  • The Ivory Child
  • Maiwa’s Revenge
  • The Ancient Allan
  • She
  • Ayesha
  • The World’s Desire
  • Moon of Israel
  • Heart of the World
  • Eric Brighteyes
  • The Bretheren
  • Montezuma’s Daughter

One thought on “She Who Must Be Obeyed

  1. I much prefer King Solomon’s Mines also. Although I really like the character Holly, I can’t stand She. I’ll take Rumpole’s wife over her any day.


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