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Oliver Schreiner

Oliver Deneys Schreiner (1890 - 1980) was the younger son of Will and Fan Schreiner. Like his father, Oliver was a brilliant legal scholar and studied at Cambridge; his studies were interrupted by the First World War, in which he fought and was injured at the Somme. After the war he returned to Cambridge where he was elected a Fellow of his College. He married Edna Findcham in 1919; a daughter, Jean, was born in 1920. Later that year they returned in South Africa, with Olive Schreiner travelling on the same ship with them. In Cape Town, he was admitted to the Bar and practiced as a lawyer. Oliver Schreiner continued the liberal political legacy of his father and aunt. Regarding the abolition of the Cape franchise, Prime Minister Strydom finally achieved this by packing the Appeal Court, “enlarged for the purpose, with aquiesant judges
where there was only one dissident, Oliver Schreiner, son of the Cape Prime Minister who had fought unsuccessfully for black rights” (Welsh 1998: 444). 

Olive Schreiner was devoted to Oliver, who she frequently referred to as ‘my favourite nephew’. Her concern for him during the First World War after he joined the army and went to the front in France is a frequent presence in many of her letters, especially those to Will and Fan; he was injured during the battle of the Somme, losing the use of an elbow. The extant letters to Oliver are, as with the other Schreiner children, surprisingly few; there is just a loving Christmas card to Oliver as a child, and a typescript of a letter now presumed destroyed. The ‘missing’ letters are interesting to contemplate, given how much of her hopes for the future Schreiner identified with Oliver.

For further information see:
Frank Welsh (1998) A History of South Africa London: Harper Collins.
M.A. Diemont (1987) ‘Schreiner, Oliver Denys’ in (ed) C.J. Beyers Dictionary of South African Biography  Vol V Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, pp. 692 - 693


Recipient Of Recipient Of
Collection National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters


Mentioned In Mentioned In
Collection Aletta: The Aletta Jacobs collection is extensive and available on microfilm at the Aletta IIVA archive in Amsterdam. Schreiner’... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection British Library, London: The British Library, London, is one of the world leading locations for archival papers across many periods of time, countries... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection Cullen Library, Historical Papers, University of Witwatersrand: Historical Papers in the Cullen Library is a leading location for accessing archival papers across many periods, organisation... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin: The HRC, Austin, is one of the world leading locations for archival papers pertaining to literary life and manuscripts across... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection Macfarlane-Muirhead Family: Schreiner’s letters to Robert Muirhead are part of Macfarlane-Muirhead family collection and can be accessed at the Mui... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National Archives Depot, Pretoria: The National Archives Depot is Pretoria is a leading location for archival papers across a wide time-period, organisations an... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown: The National English Literary Museum is the leading location for collections pertaining to the imaginative and creative writi... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection University of Cape Town, Historical Manuscripts: Manuscripts & Archives at the University of Cape Town is a leading location for accessing archival papers across many per... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National Library of South Africa SCCS Extracts: See Major Collections for details of the NLSA in Cape Town. The Extracts are precisely that, many hundreds of snippets mainly... Show/Hide Collection Letters

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