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Olive Schreiner Letters Online

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Olive Schreiner

Schreiner On Writing & Publishing

Olive Schreiner was a ‘writing woman’ - from a young age she was continually involved in the different activities she associated with the seemingly simple term ‘writing’. This included her thinking out the structure of something she wanted to write, planning it in detail before ever putting pen to paper; putting it on paper and as she did so editing as she went along to try to make it closer to the image she had in her mind; writing something out neatly in its almost ‘final for now’ form; having things typed and then editing the typescripts; editing and tidying proofs of her writing; and then later editing them again whenever they were going to be re-published.

Also, throughout her life Schreiner tried out her ideas in her letters, which can be seen as a kind of ‘working knowledge’ that was emergent and to the moment of occurrence. Thereafter such ideas might be written about more formally in her essays, novels or allegories - but often they remain in their epistolary incarnation, and so her letters offer privileged insight into her thinking and reflecting processes on many important matters.

Following publication in 1883 of The Story of An African Farm, Schreiner became a professional writer. As a consequence, she had many direct and indirect dealings with editors of journals and newspapers and publishers of books. Friendly inquiries, excuses for lateness, negotiations about titles and contents, and disputes about financial arrangements, are covered in these letters.

The many letters in which Olive Schreiner comments about writing and publishing can be accessed below. These letters are listed in chronological order and by recipient, with these pages providing an index of her letters on the linked topics of writing and publishing. That is, every Schreiner letter which includes references to her writing, and every Schreiner letter referring to editors and publishers, can be accessed from these pages.

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