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DateOriginal Topic
15th February 2005The Wild Frontier!
By Paul Cubbin
What a dramatic topic title! Pity the rest doesn't live up to it. Really what I wanted to know was some quirky anecdotes or ripping yarns about frontier clashes pre 1879.

One of the 'excuses' for the Anglo-Zulu was the raid over the Natal border by Zulus who were recapturing some adulterous wives. These women were promptly executed (presumably as per Zulu law) on Zulu soil and no-one in Natal was worse for wear (other than a couple of lonely African Casanovas). Bartle Frere appears to have gleefully waved this atrocity about with unseemly enthusiasm.

I have often read that such incidents were fairly common and many were more severe than this one. Unfortunately no writer I have yet found is willing to go off track long enough to recount any of these incidents. I'm dreaming here of 'Wilbur Smith' type adventures with intrepid pioneers and their trusty, loyal trackers venturing across the moonlit plains in search of adventure / diamonds / lost treasure / ivory / cattle / guns / a raven haired, large chested beauty (delete as applicable), armed only with their superior intellect, piercing blue eyes (for the main hero at least) and enormous 4 Bore hunting cannon. Can anyone supply such thigh slapping adventure, or is it more likely to be a bit of cattle theft on the sly?
15th February 2005Keith Smith


Suggest you read Catherine Barter's "Alone Among the Zulus" if you have not already done so. Not quite bodice-ripping stuff but she was a remarkable womna for her age. She published her book under the non-de-plume "A Plain Woman". There is a good paperback version published by University of Natal Press which is very inexpensive. Try their website .

16th February 2005Sheldon Hall
If it's movies you're after, try KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1937 or 1950), THE ADVENTURERS (1951, starring Jack Hawkins), UNTAMED (1955), NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT (1958), THE FIERCEST HEART (1961) and THE NAKED PREY (1966). All of these were shot (at least partly) in SA, often on locations near to those of ZULU. Others will have to help with genuine historical incidents.
16th February 2005Peter Ewart

If it's fiction you're after, then many of Mitford's works are still around. Plenty of adventure and frontier action/intrigue/romance, etc there! I have his "A Secret of the Lebombo" and bought it in the hope that it would be descriptive of the Lebombo district to the NE of Zululand, but it wasn't really. A typical Mitford yarn, though. You've no dount demolished Haggard as a boy!

Similar material is found in WHG KIngston's "Hendrick the Hunter - a Tale of Zululand " (Hodder & Stoughton, 1908) or W'm Johnston's "The Kopje Farm" (Collins, nd c1914) which I only bought because the inscription showed it had been presented by the headmaster of a council school whose history I was studying! All typical adventure yarns of the time, often aimed at boys.

Don't forget the famous and very successful "Story of an African Farm", which made Olive Schreiner's name and went to many reprints (originally under the pseudonym of Ralph Iron). Still required reading for those interested in the part her family played in S Africa's political history, one assumes? One of our S African contributors will have to answer that one. Her controversial little "Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland" (Fisher Unwin, 1897?) burnt her boats with Rhodes but earnt her plaudits for her courage. You'll enjoy them both, I'm sure.

More recently (comparatively!) the travel writer T.V. Bulpin produced some lovely gems. His "Shaka's Country - A Book of Zululand" (Timmins, Cape Town, 1952) is a nice light read about the changes wrought in the country. Usual overview plus excellent stories of traders' adventures from the 1850s (the halcyon days) onwards, as well as plenty of other excellent material other than what you seek.

16th February 2005Paul Cubbin
Thanks guys - it was actual events rather than fiction I was after, but as long as its in print, I'm game! I confess, it was probably Wilbur Smith's 'Courtney' series that really sparked my interest in the Zulu war, before I ever saw the 'Zulu' and 'Zulu Dawn' films. Being an avid fan of Patrick O'Brian I picked up an account of Cochrane's life, expecting it to be a pale facsimile of Jack Aubrey's, and was shocked to discover the opposite was true! The nineteeth century was a great time to be an insane adventurer if you were British!
16th February 2005Coll

You probably already seen this in one of the previous topics, but there is a book called the following :-

Josiah The Great - The True Story of the Man Who Would Be King.
by Ben Macintyre.

Julian mentioned it in my topic about the film 'The Man Who Would Be King' starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.