Caroline Murray nee Molteno (1853 - 1937) was a daughter of Sir John Molteno, who had been the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony following responsible government, and Betty Molteno, one of Schreiner’s closest friends, was her older sister. She married the medical doctor Charles Murray in 1876 and they had ten children, with her daughter May in particular also becoming a friend of Schreiner’s.
Schreiner’s letters to Caroline Murray do not give much sense of being part of an on-going correspondence (unlike those to Betty Molteno, Murray’s sister, for example). Rather they cluster around particular extended moments of activity, especially from 1907 regarding suffrage activities whenever Schreiner is staying in Cape Town, with associatedly making arrangements and meeting up. The letters are fairly formal in tone and content, and they are always addressed ‘Dear Mrs Murray’, never anything more familiar or informal; and they are signed off ‘Yours ever’ or ‘Yours sincerely’, or ‘Yours affectionately’. By 1912 this is on occasion replaced by ‘Much ‘love to you’, but the signature still always ‘Olive Schreiner’. The women shared a connection with Emily Hobhouse connection and of course Betty Molteno and Alice Greene, and later with Carloline’s daughter May Murray (later Murray Parker) and her sister-in-law Lucy Molteno.
The focus in many these letters on the Women’s Enfranchisement League and its organisation and leadership, including ‘troubles’ in these, give them a particular importance. They express, for example, Schreiner’s ongoing wish and lobbying for Caroline Murray to become its president, replacing Irene Macfadyen, as she was even-handedly linked to both English-speaking and ‘Africander’ sides. They also cover the rift within the WEL over an amendment of their constitution to advance a policy of women’s suffrage ‘on same terms as men’ and thus following the Transvaal WEL branch. Of especial interest, together with Schreiner’s letters to Julia Solly, they convey Schreiner’s strong opposition to the political gerrymandering taking place, with the branch vote for this being in effect rigged, involving Mary Brown and Anna Purcell among others. However, Schreiner is quick to proclaim that “views don’t make any difference between friends” (14 February 1913) and that their political difference on this matter had not changed her affection for Caroline Murray. Other notable features of these letters includes Schreiner’s kindly and moving letter of condolence when Murray’s son George Murray is killed in action only weeks after his wedding; and then later after her 1920 return to South Africa, Schreiner at Caroline Murray’s instigation became immediately involved in a campaign to permit widows marry their deceased husband’s brother.