"In despair, weary of roving, contact Harkness and Marx" Read the full letter

Archives & Transcripts

Olive Schreiner’s original handwritten letters are located in archives located around the world and also in collections held in private hands. The Olive Schreiner Letters Online is extremely grateful to all the archives we have worked in and to the private collections which have granted us access and fully acknowledges their ownership of the original letters and careful stewardship of them. A full list of Acknowledgements appears via these webpages.

The transcriptions published here are precisely that, transcriptions, and as such are both imperfect and also look very different from Schreiner's original manuscript letters. Consequently readers and users are strongly encouraged where possible to consult her original letters. All archives have their own ways of organizing and making their collections available, the collections are organised in sometimes very different ways, and this impacts on how letters are presented to users and how they are read.

The majority of Schreiner’s letters are in South Africa, and accessing them there is a very different from doing so in Sheffield, Texas or Amsterdam. In some archives, Schreiner’s letters are in one collection named after her. In others, her letters are a small part of a much larger collection, like a family collection over five generations, or the papers of a famous politician who was one of her correspondents, with these holding many letters and other items not connected with Schreiner at all. Also reading just one letter is a very different experience from coming across it in a group of over a hundred to the same person.

Transcriptions are not 'the letters' themselves - but then, neither are jpeg images of letters 'the letters' either, but another two-dimensional representation. The aim of The Olive Schreiner Letters Online has been to make full accurate transcriptions available, in order to promote understanding of how important Schreiner's letters are. Consequently it has prioritised 'workable transcriptions' of contents above jpeg images - Schreiner's letters are important, fascinating and often quite amazing, and many more people being able to read their contents will change the face of interpretations of her work and her activities more generally.

The transcripts of letters in The Olive Schreiner Letters Online edition start with a set of information - 'meta-data' - which informs readers which archive and particular collection a letter is located in, and how to reference the letters and acknowledge the archives and collections they are part of. Readers can also access a list of archives with the sets of Schreiner letters they hold listed under the collection names. Clicking on an archive name will take readers to further information about the archive in question and its Schreiner or Schreiner-related collections. A small number of letters, apreparing under a separate page as 'New Letters', will not appear in the main listing as they came to attention too late to be included.