Copyright transcription: © Olive Schreiner Letters Project. This transcription can be freely used as long as copyright is acknowledged and it is referenced using the following citation: ‘Olive Schreiner to Adela Villiers Smith nee Villiers, 7 May 1908, NLSA Cape Town, Special Collections, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
|Letter Date||7 May 1908
|Address From||Matjesfontein, Western Cape
|Who To||Adela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
|Other Versions||Cronwright-Schreiner 1924: 278
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Life...
(1924) and The Letters of Olive Schreiner
(1924), with few exceptions he then destroyed the original letters in his possession. When Olive Schreiner’s originals can be compared with his edited versions, his versions are severely shortened, and/or inaccurate in sometimes minor but sometimes major respects, and/or are combinations of a number of original letters. The status of ‘the Cronwright-Schreiner letters’ is therefore that they are artefacts of his editorial practices, rather than being ‘Olive Schreiner letters’ as such. Consequently, where original letters which appear in The Letters...
have been traced, they appear in the context of the appropriate archive collections and not as ‘a Cronwright-Schreiner letter’. In addition, where a version exists as one of the Extracts made in preparing The Letters...
, the extract version is provided because usually longer and in other ways closer to the characteristic writing practices of Schreiner’s original letters. The remaining ‘Cronwright-Schreiner letters’, of which this is one, are provided for the sake of completeness, because they give clues as to where Schreiner was resident at different points in time, and indicate some of her activities. However, they should be read and used with considerable caution for the reasons spelled out here.
1: To Mrs. Francis Smith.
2: Matjesfontein, 7th May.
4: ... The Cape girl is so bound to think that all persons who are not
5: quite young are narrow, bigoted, dull: very good and virtuous perhaps
6: - but utterly dull and dead. It rises from the fact that suddenly,
7: during the last 15 or 16 years, an entirely new type of education for
8: women has grown up; the young Cape girl is 20th century; her mother
9: and aunts are early Victorian; quite a century old. So there has
10: suddenly grown up nearly the lapse of a full century between one
11: generation and the other; and South African girls must find it hard to
12: picture a woman over 50 as young and liberal in spirit as themselves.