"Not a spot of hypocrisy in Rhodes; show myself nakedly to him; Boer article and 'Buddhist Priest's wife'" Read the full letter

'Race' & Labour

The ‘Race & Labour’ collection covers a number of important related topics: (1) Schreiner's use of widespread contemporary understandings of 'race' to cover ethnic and national differences even while her analysis was moving her thinking in a different direction; (2) the routine (and sometimes more subversive) presence of black people, often children, working as servants in the lives of whites, the complicated dependencies involved, and Schreiner's scandalous (for many other white people) behaviour in working alongside the black people who did domestic labour for her; (3) the writing and publishing of her 'A Returned South African' essays, which were criticised for their clear-sighted comments on the 'racial' structure of South African society when these were published from the early 1890s on; (4) her observations concerning the use of Chinese and Indian labour to break black labour’s attempts to organize and campaign for better conditions in South Africa, and the related mistreatment and exploitation of Chinese and Indian labourers; (5) the ‘racing’ of class and Schreiner’s analysis of the ‘race’ and labour questions as coterminous in the South African context; and (6) her analytical ideas about race in a more general way, including about the classification of supposedly different racial ‘groups’ but in practice the 'mixing' involved.

These letters are focused on the period from the early 1890s on, after Schreiner’s return to South Africa from Europe, linked to comments about her ‘Returned South African’ essays and other political writings, including The Political Situation, and go through to commentaries on the iniquities and likely future consequences of the Natives Land Act of 1913. Her radical ideas about 'race' as an essential ‘blendedness’ and her analysis of its formations in social life as entirely socially constructed appear most sharply in her essays and are echoed in comments on such matters in her letters. Schreiner’s condemnation of Boer people’s retrograde views on race is combined with recognition in her letters that Boer pastoral society formed a bulwark against unfettered capitalist development in the then-absence of a strong working class movement.

Letters in the ‘Race & Labour’ collection also include those which focus on the growth of industrial capitalism in southern Africa stemming from the diamonds and then gold mining industries, the related destruction of African independence, and the coercion and control of black labour, around her condemnation of imperialist expansionism, including in Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland. Such letters include Schreiner’s analysis of the use and abuse of black men’s labour as merely ‘hands’, and also of black women’s labour as both domestic workers and sex workers, her concerns about the exploitation of Chinese labour in the South African mining industry, and her public stand in relation to Indian citizenship rights and her friendly relationship with Gandhi.

 

To: William Thomas Stead, June 1889: T120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/3- pages 45-6
Ladies Chambers, Chenies St., Thursday Night., My dear Mr Stead, My article is not coming out in this months Fortnightly, I h...
[Paper on Dutch & English race]
To: T. Fisher Unwin, 6 February 1891: HRC/OliveSchreinerUncatLetters/OS-TFisherUnwin/14
Matjesfontein, Feb 6 / 91, My dear Mr Unwin, I have four or five short stories which I intend to publish in a volume some day...
[Little book of new kind, A Returned South African]
To: Mary Sauer nee Cloete, 24 March 1891: Olive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.18
Pine Grove, Hof Street, Tuesday, It's raining so you won't come in today. I can't go out to Lady Loch, so I won't come out to...
[Writing A Returned Colonialist...]
To: William Thomas Stead, 31 March 1891: T120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/14- pages 82-5
Matjesfontein, March 31 / 91, Dear Friend, I have read your article on Madame Novikoff. It is splendid, fas-cinating, intense...
[Returned South African]
To: Jessie Rose Innes nee Dods Pringle, 6 February 1894: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold2/1894/1
Middelburg , Feb 6 / 94, Dear Jessie, I am going to be married on the 25th of this month. at & later at my f I think I s...
[Little boy & old Kaffir woman as servants]
To: Jessie Rose Innes nee Dods Pringle, 28 February 1894: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold2/1894/5
Krantz Platz, P.O. Halesowen, Feb 28 / 94, Dear Jessie, I was so glad to get your letter. Your letters always seem to come st...
[Got a good Hottentot girl]
To: Jessie Rose Innes nee Dods Pringle, 29 November 1894: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold2/1894/12
The Homestead , Nr Kimberley, Nov 29 / 94, Thank you so much for your letter. I’ll tell Mrs Cawood to whom I’ve l...
[Splendid white cook, servants]
To: William Thomas Stead, January 1896: T120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/59- pages 231-2 & 251-252
Private, My dear Friend, Thanks for the letter you sent me. I have had a great many from all parts of the world about that Ha...
[Halfcaste article]
To: G.W. Cross, April 1896: G.W. Cross MS 14, 462/13
Private, My dear Friend, Please be careful not to say anything to my dear little mother that's about my political views. I ne...
[Ons Land attacking me]
To: John Findlay, 24 April 1896: Findlay Family A1199/3648
The Homestead, Kimberley, April 24 / 96, Dear John,, I have just this afternoon got your letter & the article. I was very...
[Article is about Boer and his slaves in slave times]
To: Mary Sauer nee Cloete, 25 April 1896: Olive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.101
Darling Mary , I wonder if you have gone to Johannesburg? I send you Mr Lloyds letter to serve as to let you know what he is ...
[Ons Land attack on Boer article]
To: William Thomas Stead, 29 April 1896: T120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/28- pages 129-130
I’m sending you a little African view., I am expecting a fierce attack from you about my article in the Fortnightly, bu...
[Boer article]
To: John X. Merriman, 5 May 1896: John X. Merriman MSC 15/71/4/1
May 5 / 96, Dear Mr Merriman , Thank you for your letter. I should like to answer at length your interesting criticisms, but ...
[Hidebound Boer society]
To: John X. Merriman, 25 May 1896: John X. Merriman MSC 15/71/4/2
The Homestead , May 25 / 96, Dear Mr Merriman , Thank you for your letter. Your speech was without any doubt the most brillia...
[Sympathy for Boers, but not their cardinal vice]
To: John X. Merriman, 29 June 1896: John X. Merriman MSC 15/71/4/3
The Homestead, June 29 / 96, Dear Mr Merriman , I am very glad you liked my Bushman paper. I have never gone on with the lett...
[My Bushman paper, position of half castes, blood thicker than water]
To: Jan Smuts, 1 July 1896: Smuts A1/186/73
The Homestead, July 1st 1896, Dear Mr Smuts , Thankyou heartily for the letter I got just now. I respond sincerely to its sym...
[My articles, blending & fusion of races]
To: G.W. Cross, 20 August 1896: G.W. Cross MS 14, 462/1
Dear Mr Cross, Did you get the article on the Wanderings of Boer I sent this week? If so when done with please pass on to my ...
[Article on Wanderings of Boer]
To: Betty Molteno, 28 August 1896: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/25
Dear Friend, Thanks for your letter. Please send the enclosed to your brother about the young fellow. I send you his mother’...
[Letter from a half-caste]
To: Mary Sauer nee Cloete, September 1896: Olive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.106
Strictly Private. Is your arm quite strong? , My darling Mary , No, there has been nothing wrong with my womb, I am sure! Eac...
[Strop Bill]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, December 1896: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/36
[page/s missing], to go by that vessel, we are not responsible. It will of course be very unpleasant for us. Rhodes & his...
[Strive to regard native as brother, Boer do so regard]
To: John X. Merriman, 3 April 1897: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1897:17
Grand Hotel , Alassio , Riviera , Italy , April 3rd 1897, Dear Mr Merriman , I have just got your letter of March 1st. I am i...
[We are making half educated, much brutalised race, should have blended into one people emotionally]
To: Mary Sauer nee Cloete, 19 October 1897: Olive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.113
The Homestead , Oct 19 / 97, Darling Mary, When exactly do you expect little Peter to come? In January? Don't forget to tell ...
[Good Hottentot man coming to me]
To: Betty Molteno, 12 November 1897: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold4/1897/21
The Homestead, Nov 12 / 97, I enclose for you & Miss Greene rather a good leader on the vote question from the Kimberly A...
[Servant Hottentot boy]
To: G.W. Cross, 21 April 1898: G.W. Cross MS 14, 462/15
The Homestead , Saturday night, Dear Friend, Thankyou for your letter. I have of late a curious increasing clinging to all my...
[Article on Toussaint L'Ouverture, pure-blooded negro]
To: Betty Molteno, 17 September 1898: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/26
The Homestead, Friday, Dear Friend, I was up all night but feel wonderfully better this morning. Quite like writing a book!!, ...
[John marrying a coloured woman]
To: Betty Molteno, 1 November 1898: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/38
Dounan’s House, Hospital Hill, Nov 1st 1898, So glad of your letter. Am full of plans for you & Miss Greene coming ...
[Natives herded together like animals on the mines]
To: Betty Molteno, 4 December 1898: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/47
Sunday, Dear Friend, It was very good news about Miss Green nourishing herself up a little & finding benefit from a more ...
[My help a Matabelie boy]
To: Betty Molteno, 10 December 1898: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/48
Box 2 Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dearest Friend, For the first time for weeks I really seem to have a few moments to sit down &...
[Matabelie boy in dread of being sent away]
To: Frances (‘Fan’) Schreiner nee Reitz, 30 June 1902: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold1/1902/20
Hanover , June 30 / 02, Dear old Sister, Thankyou so much for writing so quickly about the stove & taking so much trouble...
[Natives boycott me]
To: Frances ('Fan') Schreiner nee Reitz, 20 July 1902: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold1/1902/24
Sunday night, Dear Fan, Thank you so much for writing to me. I’m glad you all had such a good time. It seems almost imp...
[Boy washes pots]
To: Arthur Brown, February 1904: Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/75
Hanover, Feb 1904, Dear Arthur, The things are splendid in quality especially the cheese. I wished I had got 4 lb instead of ...
[Typhoid, four native funerals a day, two whites, aunt of my Hottentot servant died today]
To: Frances ('Fan') Schreiner nee Reitz, 10 June 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/14
Hanover, June 10 / 04, Dear Fan, I took your cloak down to the station to give to Ettie who said she would be there, & wo...
[Boy servant 10 not 13]
To: Alice Greene, 15 June 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/16
Hanover, June 15th 1904, Dear Friend, Thank you for your letter. I am so sorry that Miss Molteno is not fit. This evening I ...
[Giving kaffir boy heaps of milk]
To: Edward Carpenter, 17 June 1904: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/c
Hanover, June 17 / 04, Dear old Edward, Some friends have asked me to come to England & they say you wanted me to come to...
[Kaffir boy from Reformatory, natives will be crushed, cheap labour]
To: Betty Molteno, 23 July 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/29
Dear Friend,, I’m so glad it has been such a good time with your brother, & I’m so thankful you are keeping w...
[A little coloured girl]
To: Betty Molteno, 30 July 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/33
My darling Friend, I don’t know what you will have thought of me for not writing for so long. I haven’t been able...
[Little Hottentot girl]
To: Alice Greene, 19 November 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/30
Saturday, My darling Friend, I got your letter this morning I most fully understand it. I feel so sure the going to England i...
[My little boy a little boy to play with him]
To: Betty Molteno, 19 November 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/31
Saturday night, My dear Friend, I am so glad you are going to England. This old country is too sad for one who has felt all a...
[Dear little kaffir boy]
To: Alice Greene, 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box 12/Fold2/Misc/3
Dear Miss Greene, Do come in June it will be lovely. You’ll like the blue-gum trees, & it will be such a rest to me...
[My good boy left me]
To: Betty Molteno, 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold4/1905/2
[page/s missing], I enclose a letter to introduce you to the Lawrences. If you can’t go to see them still post it. , I ...
[Teach fair skinned folk against talking of darker as inferior]
To: Betty Molteno, 1 July 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold4/1905/24
Hanover, July 1st 1905, My darling Friend, I do hope you will get away to Athens & Rome. (Oh Athens!) Miss Greene is quit...
[Poor dear old Chinamen]
To: Edward Carpenter, 10 August 1905: Edward Carpenter 359/89
Hanover, Aug 10th 1905 , Dear Ed , I got a letter the other day from a Miss Darby; who says she is a friend of yours. So many...
[Treatment of Chinamen]
To: Betty Molteno, 31 August 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold4/1905/35
Hanover, Aug 31st 1905, My darling Friend, Yes, I know, sometimes we seem to have conquered anything & every thing is ope...
[Chinese labour practically slaves]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, 31 October 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/4
Hanover , October 3lst, 1905 , I have your two letters today from the Falls. I am glad it has been so splendid to you there. ...
[Dutch farms, see something of our Colonial natives; Chinese labour question]
To: John X. Merriman, 10 January 1906: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1906:12
Hanover, Jan 10th 1906, Dear Mr Merriman, I had planned to spend the 2nd at Stellenbosch & some friends had promised to d...
[Chinese question]
To: Betty Molteno, 8 May 1906: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold5/1906/7
Cronwright-Schreiner & Meyer, Law and Estate Agents., Auctioneers, &c,, Hanover and De Aar, Cronwright-Schreiner,, La...
[Astonishing change here, Boer top dog now]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 23 September 1906: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold5/1906/17
Please address as below, The Hotel, de Aar, Sunday., Dear Mrs Murray, You told me you were going to Nels’ Poort. I wond...
[My position is lonely; won't look at South African problems from a race standpoint]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 12 February 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/3
Hanover, C.C., Feb 12th 1907, My dear old Man, I really haven’t known how to write to you about our lad’s not pas...
[Coloured girl comes in in the morning]
To: Frances (‘Fan’) Schreiner nee Reitz, 8 April 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/8
Hanover, April 8th 1907, My dear sweet little sister, Thank you for your letter I know how you are missing the old husband yo...
[A very good servant now]
To: Alice Greene, 14 May 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/13
Hanover, CC, May 14 / 07, Darling Alice, I long so to hear from you; & more, to see you. I would write much longer letter...
[Hanover young Boer girls case, pitiful smallness of Boer nation]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 9 December 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/33
Box 24, De Aar, Dec 9 / 07, Dear Mrs Murray, Thank you for sending Betty’s letter. Can you give j me her right address;...
[Boys for the farm]
To: Edward Carpenter, 6 February 1908: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/gii
De Aar, Feb 6th 1908, Dear Edward, Months ago I began the enclosed letter. I haven't written because I wanted to go on with i...
[De Aar, nothing but railway men, 'niggers', shop keeprers]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 4 June 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/37
de Aar, June 4th 1908, Dear Laddie, It was good to see you. I hope the trip will do you good. You can hardly know how glad I ...
['From Man to Man' opens up whole question of race relations]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 1 December 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/66
de Aar, Dec 1st 1908, I got the photograph signed by Dinuzulu yesterday, dear. I suppose you sent it. I like it greatly. Your...
[My boy Jim]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 30 December 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/73
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Cape Colony , Dec 30 / 08, Dear Laddie, All good wishes for good work in the New Year. I suppose...
[Letter from Coloured man]
To: Frances ('Fan') Schreiner nee Reitz, January 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/2
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein,, Cape Colony, My dear wicked old sister who never writes to me. I hear from Dr Brown that he saw...
[Servant girl Sophie]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, 6 January 1909: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/7
Hotel Milner, Matjiesfontein, Cape Colony, Jan 6 1909, My dear F.S. Malan , Thank-you for your letter. I wanted to sit down &...
[['Cheap land, cheap labour, cheap mines, exploit the nigger' is what motivates them]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, April 1909: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/1
Cap, Eastburgholt, Tamboer's Kloof Road, Tamboer's Kloof, Cape Town , Wednesday , Dear Friend, Please return me that little p...
[Day will come when we will need love of black & coloured man]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 24 April 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/22
de Aar, April 24 / 09, My dear Laddie, I wonder how the world goes with you. You did splendid work this session. May your fee...
[Race question is Labour question made virulent by colour]
To: Minnie or Mimmie Murray nee Parkes, 30 August 1909: Olive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/38
De Aar, Aug 30th 1909, My dear Mrs Murray, You will have wondered at my long silence after your kind letter asking me to come...
[Our duty to half-caste, leading men of South Africa with dark blood]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, October 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/10
I have not been working at my book. Running a house with one little coloured girl to help you, you can’t get any time f...
[Coloured girl to help]
To: Edward Carpenter, 7 January 1911: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/h
Portlock, nr Graaff Reinet, Cape of Good Hope, Jan 7 / 11, Dear old Edward, It's born in on me I must write to you, though wh...
[Treatment of Indians & natives]
To: Edward Carpenter, 3 April 1911: Edward Carpenter 359/96
De Aar , April 3rd 1911 , My dear E.C. , I am sending you a copy of my Woman & Labour. You will see its only a fragment. ...
[Whites always let off by juries, lynchings]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 25 May 1911: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold4/1911/10
Wednesday, Dear Laddie, I wrote yesterday to tell you I couldn’t go, but Cron wouldn’t let me post the letter. To...
[Black peril over every black man]
To: Edward Carpenter, 4 July 1911: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/j
De Aar, July 4th 1911, Dear E.C., I wrote you a longish letter to go off by this week's mail but I must have put it into an e...
[Universal Races Congress]
To: Edward Carpenter, 16 September 1911: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/k
De Aar, Sep 16th 1911, Ed dear,, I'm sending you another copy of my book. I think the mystery is solved as to what becomes of...
[Defence act like convention was hurried through & difficulties shelved]
To: Havelock Ellis, 30 June 1912: Olive Schreiner: Havelock Ellis 2006.29/5
De Aar, June 30th 1912, Dear old Boy, Thanks for your letter. Of course each person's "diary works" (I mean simple, spontaneo...
[Hertzog, native, bill for forced conscription]
To: James Henderson, 29 July 1912: General Missionary Commission, Folder 25: Letters to Mr. J. Henderson MS 14, 847/5
De Aar, July 29th 1912 , Dear Mr Henderson, I had no idea you would have any use to make of the answers when once the confere...
[Want to talk with you on subject of native women as nurses]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 29 July 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold1/1912/35
De Aar, July 29th 1912, Dear old Man , Thank you very much for the pictures. I like the one doubly where you & I show bec...
[Anger at Rubusana saying women's place is home, if so then 'place for Kaffir is kraal']
To: Frances (‘Fan’) Schreiner nee Reitz, October 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold2/Undated/40
Dear old sister, I’m very flap-doodlely. The heat & the height are pretty bad. I would start off for some where at ...
[A new servant girl]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, July 1913: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/4
De Aar, Tuesday , To F S Malan , My dear Friend, My heart is sore sorrowful. What are these things which you are doing up in ...
[1913 miners' strike]
To: Edward Carpenter, 23 July 1913: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/n
De Aar, July 23rd 1913, Dear Edward, I am sending you an account of our Sundays meeting. If you want to understand the labour...
[1913 miners' strike]
To: John X. Merriman, 16 November 1913: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1913:320
De Aar, Nov 16th 1913, Dear Mr Merriman, I was glad indeed to see your remarks on the Indians. Im It is not waving their litt...
[Your remarks on Indians]
To: John Hodgson, 5 April 1917: HRC/OliveSchreinerLetters/OS-JohnHodgson/97
Porchester Place, Edgware Rd, W 1, Thursday, Dear Mr Hodgson, I was so disappointed not to be able to go on Sunday to the pla...
[Shameful article on Native Land Act]
To: May Murray Parker nee Murray, 27 March 1920: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold1/Dated/1
Dearest May, Thank you & Freddy for your letters. I do not think your charges at all too high. The pity is that so many p...
[Two Indians came to see me, put wrong of Indians in East Africa to British Govt]
To: Betty Molteno, 27 October 1920: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box7/Fold4/Mar-Dec1920/30
Oak Hall, Main Rd , Wynberg, but still address , to c/o Standard Bank, Strand St , Cape Town , Darling Betty, I’ve had ...
[Great strike in Port Elizabeth]
To: Havelock Ellis, 7 November 1920: HRC/UNCAT/OS-155
Thanks for your letter. I hope you have seen more of Cron, he was quite enthusiastic about you after his visit with you to th...
[Does not agree with Stoddart about inferiority of African races]
To: Betty Molteno, 10 November 1920: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box7/Fold4/Mar-Dec1920/35
Oak Hall, Tramway Terminus, Wynberg, Sunday, My darling Betty, I got two letters from you from the Standard Bank this week, t...
[The Port Elizabeth strike was to have taken place]
To: Betty Molteno, 12 November 1920: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box7/Fold4/Mar-Dec1920/36
My darling Betty, No line from you this week. But it is good of you to write as often as you do., You don’t know how pr...
[Masabela's defence]
To: Betty Molteno, 23 November 1920: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box7/Fold4/Mar-Dec1920/37
Midwood, Palmyra Road, Newlands , Sunday, My darling Betty, I am spending a few days with Jessie Rose-Innes. I had a great tr...
[Masabala's trial]