"Colossal evil threatening South Africa, Boer society hidebound" Read the full letter

Purves Collection, National Library Scotland


These letters are part of the John Purves Collection, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. They appear here with the kind permission of the National Library, with grateful thanks. The OSLO Project is indebted to Jacques Human for drawing the letters to attention.
 
 
 
A. CLASSIFYING INFORMATION

Letter date        [27 March 1911]
Address From  [De Aar, Northern Cape]
Address To      []
Who to             [Acting Editor of the South African Bookman]



B. EDITED COLLECTION

Editor               []



C. ARCHIVE COLLECTION REFERENCE

Archive name         [National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh]
Archive Ref 1         [John Purves Autograph Collection: Acc.7175 No 2/1]



De Aar
March 27th 1911

Dear Sir

I am informed you are the acting Editor of a publication called The Book-man. Will you kindly forward the enclosed letter at once to Mr Purvis, having first read it yourself.

Yours faithfully
Olive Schreiner

Kindly let me know if you have received this the letter & forwarded it to Mr Purvis.

I enclose a stamped envelope for your reply.

P.S. Since writing the above I have found out you are at present in England. B.   I do not wish you to contradict the lies; it would merely advertise the paper & Mr Cross. What I think as a gentleman you are bound to do, or whoever may now be in control of the pub publication – is to stop its further sale & dissemination in England & America. Any attempt on your part to contradict the statements of Mr Cross would be a useless insult to myself. The really disgraceful thing is that Mr Cross should have been allowed to write an article of personal gossip about any lady in your magazine. I am sure you are the last person who would wish by such means to increase its cir-culation. Why you should have requested Mr Cross to write about my life & domestic relations I cannot understand. He call on me a couple of times when I was passing through Grahamstown many years ago, & once he called on me in Kimberley. I have not seen or spoken to him for 14 years.

[NOTATION: John Purves was a Professor at the then Transvaal University College in Pretoria and the Editor of The South African Bookman. It is not clear who the acting Editor was that Schreiner was addressing her letter to.]






A. CLASSIFYING INFORMATION

Letter date        [after 27 March 1911 and before 7 April 1911]
Address From  [na]
Address To      []
Who to             [John Purves, Editor of the South African Bookman]



B. EDITED COLLECTION

Editor               []



C. ARCHIVE COLLECTION REFERENCE

Archive name         [National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh]
Archive Ref 1         [John Purves Autograph Collection: Acc.7175 No 2/2]


[LEGEND: This letter has been dated by reference to two other dated letters which are part of this correspondence with the South African Bookman.]


Editor of Book-man

Dear Sir

You will of course understand that I wish no contradictions of any statements in your bo magazine about my self. It would advertise Mr Cross & your magazine but would be most unjust to myself as lies left in quiet die quicker.

I shall of course not contradict them, & have written to all my friends asking them not to notice them.

Yours faithfully
Olive Schreiner

[NOTATION: John Purves was a Professor at the then Transvaal University College in Pretoria and the Editor of The South African Bookman. This is perhaps the letter that is referred to as being enclosed with that of 27 March 1911 and addressed to the Acting Editor of the Bookman (Acc.7175 No 2/1).] 






A. CLASSIFYING INFORMATION

Letter date        [7 April 1911]
Address From  [De Aar, Northern Cape]
Address To      []
Who to             [Acting Editor of the South African Bookman]



B. EDITED COLLECTION

Editor               []



C. ARCHIVE COLLECTION REFERENCE

Archive name         [National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh]
Archive Ref 1         [John Purves Autograph Collection: Acc.7175 No 2/3]



De Aar
April 5^7^th 1911

Dear Sir

Thank-you for your letter. I wished it sent to the editor as he certainly is responsible who-ever he may have left in charge, & it appears to have been her he who performed the strange action of asking Mr Cross to write a little upon me; & it seemed to me that if he was in Europe he might more easily be able to buy up copies of your paper than you could here. If you will return the letter to me, I will send it to Mr Pervis myself on his return if any necessity for doing so has arisen; & you need not mention to Mr Cross that I have written to you as I have of course written fully to him. It will be better to drop the matter here.

Please return my letter to Mr Pervis to myself.

You say that you wish you had taken some passages out of Mr Cross’s article on my relatives & myself. But there are no passages which taken out could have improved it. It was not petty untruths such as that I called my mother “Mummy”, or prattled to her about unreadable when half starved that matter at all. The unreadable of the article lies in the fact that which it professes to be an article on a literary work “The Story of an African Farm”, which of course he or any one else has a right to criticize as they will, & a duty to criticize adversely if they disapprove of it – he makes it an excuse for tacking on to the book gossip about my relations & connections. What my mother, aunts, brothers, sisters & cousins or any other persons have to do with the “Story of an African Farm” I am absolutely unable to understand. At the beginning of the 20th century it is not the habit to make authors responsible for all their relatives. You will perhaps forgive my saying that I cannot understand a man of your evidently high culture & refinement as shown by your letter, allowing such insolent personal gossip, if it been of an poor washer woman to appear in your paper. I am enclosing you a copy of the letter I wrote to Mr Cross. Please consider it private; & return it.

If Mr Cross is so aged that he is not ?be be considered responsible; the more reason for not allowing his personalities in a literary journal. My mother did become a Catholic for a little while & then shortly afterwards became a protestant again, but no true South African journal has sunk so low as to refer to the religious changes of faith in an aged lady; (she was over 80 at the time Mr Cross knew her) these things lay between her own soul & god.

Yours faithfully
Olive Schreiner

[NOTATION: John Purves was a Professor at the then Transvaal University College in Pretoria and the Editor of The South African Bookman. It is not clear who the acting Editor was that Schreiner addressed this letter to.]