Haggard had some firsthand experience of these locations, thanks to his extensive travels. He first traveled to Natal in 1875, as secretary to the colonial Governor Bulwer. In 1878 he became Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, in the region that was to become South Africa. During his time there he was exposed to the Zulu culture, and is said to have had an long-lasting affair with an African woman. However, he was eventually to return to England to find a wife, bringing Mariana Louisa Margitson back to Africa with him as a bride.
Returning to England in 188?, the couple settled in Ditchingham, Norfolk. Later he lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay. He turned to the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1884. His practice of law was somewhat desultory, as much of his time was taken up by the writing of novels.
While his novels contain many of the strong preconceptions common to the culture of British colonialism, they are unusual for the degree of sympathy with which he often treats the native populations. Africans often serve heroic roles in his novels, though the protagonists are typically European. Possibly due to his personal history, his writings even deal with cross-racial romance, usually a taboo subject at the time.
He is most famous as the author of the best-selling novel King Solomon's Mines, as well as many others such as She, Ayesha (sequel to She), Allan Quatermain (sequel to King Solomon's Mines), and the epic viking romance, Eric Brighteyes.
Though Haggard is no longer as popular as he was when his books appeared, some of his characters have had a notable impact on early-twentieth-century thought. Ayesha, the female protagonist of She, was even cited by both Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams and by Carl Jung as a female prototype.