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|Archive||Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
|Letter Date||21 November 1884
|Address From||144 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex
|Who To||Havelock Ellis
|Other Versions||Cronwright-Schreiner 1924: 46, 46; Draznin 1992: 223-4
The manuscript of this letter by Olive Schreiner belongs to the Archive referenced above; its ownership of the original should be acknowledged by referencing the letter as indicated: 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 Havelock Ellis, 21 November 1884, Harry Ransom Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark. Schreiner was resident in St Leonards at different addresses from mid October 1884 to the end of April 1885. The start of the letter is missing. The final insertion is written on the back of the envelope.
1: [page/s missing]
3: when I was ill. These things are somewhat sore to me. I have supported
4: myself ever since I was a child. It is not easy now for the first time
5: to stand as a beggar. If I went to Africa of course I should take a
6: situation as teacher & go back to my old life.
8: I was very well, in my chest, the first five months I was in England.
9: It was as soon as I went to Endle Street that my chest got bad.
11: Cousin Pons is at the end of that vol. I have read any French the last
12: day or two. Isn’t Taine splendid. He’s so true. I have been looking
13: all through the last vol & I have not yet found one word that does not
14: appear to me true. The work seems to me a work of genius as much as
15: any novel or poem could be. His remarks on Dickens are simply the
16: perfection of criticism.
18: I am not adding to the my book. I grows smaller & smaller. I am sure
19: that all I am doing is improvement. Condens, condense, condense.
21: But it’s the most mentally wearing work. To cut out these few parts
22: has cost me mentally more than to write the whole. When I am doing I
23: do not alter much. I generally write things off best at first; the
24: passionate parts, & leading scenes I never need to touch but the
25: little bits between where there is not such intense feeling to guide
26: one have to be thought over. I do not remember Undine at all. I think
27: that Frank was Undine’s stepbrother so no relation to Aunt Margaret at
28: all, perhaps I meant to make out that he was her nephew & that she
29: couldn’t marry him. I am unwell. Perhaps I shall be better now. I want
30: you so close close to me that I can talk nicely to you. Yes, I shall
31: always wish we had been able to go to Eastbourne.
33: I wonder how you feel this evening, just what you are doing. I don’t
34: like you to have such a singing in your ears. Perhaps you are wanting
35: a letter from me & I couldn’t send one. When it begins to be time for
36: your letters to come I just get restless & walk about the room.
38: Have you heard from Miss Jones when she is coming down?
40: Aco Good bye. my other-self. Please don’t reel far from me; not in
41: soul spirit or body. I have such a need of you.
44: I have read that book; think the poems good. Will send it when I can
45: get out.
47: ^Tain’s “English Literature” is splendid!^
'Condensing' refers to the manuscript of From Man to Man
. Balzac's Cousin Pons
was first translated by Schreiner's friend Philip Kent; see Honore de Balzac (1894) Cousin Pons
(trans. Philip Kent) London: F. Warne & Co. The book referred to is: Hippolyte Taine (1871) History of English Literature
Edinburgh: Edmonson & Douglas. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.