|Archive||Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
|Letter Date||12 December 1911
|Address From||De Aar, Northern Cape
|Who To||Havelock Ellis
|Other Versions||Cronwright-Schreiner 1924: 303; Draznin 1992: 483-4
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, 12 December 1911, 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. In the absence of other information, dating this letter has followed Draznin (1992), who has done so by reference to a version in Cronwright-Schreiner?s (1924) The Letters...
. Schreiner was resident in De Aar from November 1907 until she left South Africa for Britain and Europe in December 1913, but with some fairly lengthy visits elsewhere over this time. The start of the letter is missing.
1: [page/s missing]
3: I believe the only remedy for the agony & suffering sex inflicts is
4: absolute truthfulness & openness. Not after you are found out but
5: before!! Not after you have formed the new sex relation but before. I
6: do not believe a man or woman ever enters on a real sex relation with
7: a man of woman without knowing they are sexually attracted to one
8: another. If it is only a few hours before you would have time to tell
9: the person whose sexual life you had forever bound with yours what you
10: are feeling.
12: Of course the comparison of the book is not complete, – it wouldn’t be,
13: even if you & I had voluntarily vowed ^vowed^ never to write any book
14: with out the other & sharing the profits because sex relations are so
15: enormously more important than any business or other relation could
16: ever be. Oh I do wish the part of my book on sex relations was not
17: destroyed. I can never write it again.
19: There is my friend Adela Smith the one who wrote to Edith you say about
20: Hinton, who thinks it’s wrong for people even if married to have any
21: sex relations with each other except just when they want to make a
22: child. She says her husband feels just the same! I would base all my
23: sex teaching to children & young people on the beauty & sacredness &
24: importants of sex – sex intercourse is the great sacrement of life –
25: he that eateth & drinketh unworthily eateth & drinketh damnation to
26: himself, but it may be the most beautiful sacrement between two souls
27: without any thought of children I feel.
29: I must go & see about the wash clothes & the dinner. Tell me how much
30: of Machievelli is true & how much made up.
32: Good bye
The book referred to by Schreiner is Woman and Labour
, while 'my book on sex relations' is the manuscript preceeding it which was destroyed when her house in Johannesburg was destroyed during the South African War. For Machievelli, see Henry Cust (1905) Machiavelli: The Art of War and The Prince
London: David Nutt. 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.