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From Man to Man, 168pp - HRC

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas

HRC Schreiner, Olive – Works: MS-3734

From Man to Man, 168pp manuscript



The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin is one of the world’s leading archives, with rich collections of Olive Schreiner materials. The HRC collection is referenced as ‘Olive Schreiner, Works, MS-3734’ and consists of a number of sub-sections, including autograph letters, manuscripts and miscellaneous. There are also substantial Schreiner materials in other HRC collections, and these can be easily located by searching in the Finding Aids section of the HRC website.

The HRC Olive Schreiner Works Collection has within it two manuscripts relating to Schreiner’s posthumously published but unfinished novel From Man to Man (FMTM), one of around 26 pages and the other of around 168 pages (because of the changes made, the number of actual sheets of paper in both does not exactly correspond to the run of page numbers).

Comment here is concerned with the longer of the two HRC FMTM manuscripts, of some 168 pages. However, the two FMTM manuscripts are connected and both commentaries and texts should be read together.

These introductory remarks are followed by some general observations about the manuscripts, some suggestions about Schreiner’s working practices in writing and editing, and details about of the organisation of the manuscript and such things as paper changes and editing follow-ons or gaps.


Opening thoughts on the manuscript

On the first page of the longer HRC FMTM manuscript of 168 pages, in what it is definitely S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner’s hand-writing, there is in pencil, ’31.1.21’ and ‘Written at Alassio 1886-7’.

In January 1921 S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner (estranged husband) and Havelock Ellis (erstwhile best friend) met to go through bundles of papers that Olive Schreiner had left with Ellis over a period of time up to when she left Britain for South Africa in the later 1889, never retrieving them. This was because SCCS had already decided to produce a Life, an edited Letters, and publish as many of her manuscripts as possible. Although SCCS’s diaries and letters to Ellis contain general comments about manuscripts and that after his editing work was done he burnt many things, detailed information about exactly what he retrieved and what he destroyed is not provided. However, although he implies everything is not published was destroyed, this seems not so and other manuscripts have found their way into archives. Nonetheless, the exact route by which the two FMTM manuscripts now in the HRC collections found their way there is not known.

This longer of the two HRC FMTM manuscripts is written on two different paper types. Most of the pages are on continental squared paper, and these at points surround interleaved sheets all combined folds of ordinary white lined paper, as detailed in a later section. Schreiner’s letters once she arrived in Clarens use this squared paper but never do so before. This was while she was in France and Italy, starting in early January 1887. It seems that she bought the paper to work on FMTM while there, and continued using in when back in England and at Gore Street in June 1887. Her letters over a lengthy period, again starting in January 1887, use the same squared paper as the FMTM manuscript, although a lighter weight. The manuscript paper is heavier, with a more substantial feel.

There are quite a few jumps and lumpy bits because different incarnations of the manuscript are interlinked. The manuscript is composed by two different types of paper, mostly of folded larger sheets to make quarto ones, but some torn-off ‘halves’ of this. Most of it is of the ‘Continental’ squared paper. This has no watermark or distinguishing feature other than its squares. The rest of it is on ordinary lined paper, which has a white-line watermark across the folded sheets. It is the same as the lined paper used in the shorter of the HRC manuscripts and is not distinguished in any way.

Knowing that once Schreiner arrived in Clarens she used the same kind of paper for her letters and for this manuscript, never use such paper before this, and did so for a period after her arrival date, is sufficient to begin to pin it down in time.

There are 168 (an archivist’s note informs) pages, although matters are in fact more complicated than this. The manuscript is handwritten in pen with many pen amendments, with a few paragraphs in pencil here and there. Only 165 page numbers appear. However, there are mistaken repeats of a few page numbers, while to add to the complexities, there are also multiple repeats of some page numbers as well as some missing numbers and pages. These relate to changes in the kind of paper used and to the kind of writing and editing practices Schreiner was carrying out on the particular pages concerned, as well as some pages now missing but which appeared to happen present at the points that Schreiner was working on the manuscript, as detailed below.


Schreiner’s working practices

Schreiner worked on this longer of the HRC FMTM manuscripts in a number of ways. In summary, these combined her ordinary writing process (writing out under the same time inserting, deleting and amending) with other activities much more akin to editing, in which she condensed from something earlier while also adding at the moment of doing so.

Detailed work on the manuscript suggests that what is written on the ordinary lined paper came first, and Schreiner then later used the continental squares to edit, change, expand and stitch together. Some relevant textual evidence regarding paper changes supports this, as following:

Sometimes the text follows at paper changes, more often it does not really or does not at all

More often than not, it is the lined paper that is in single sheets, interspersed

At pp93-94, the end of the lined is crossed out and is re-written in the squared (an entry in Rebecca’s diary)

At 158-158 (there are 2 of them), 158 v.2 is totally crossed out with the first 2 words of 158, to make 159 follow on from 158 v.1.

This is not incontrovertible, but circumstantially and with the two examples of 93/94 and 158/158/159, the weight is on the lined coming first and the squared being the new surplanting editorial-writerly intervention. In addition, when the state of the shorter HRC manuscript is taken into account, it becomes definite. That is, FMTM26pp is all ordinary lined paper, it appears as ‘the start’ of the book and has a title page etc and the name of Ralph Iron as author.


The organisation of the longer HRC FMTM manuscript

The organisation of the manuscript is as follows:

1 to 10 are a folded set, on squared paper. The writing is all of a piece; the edits are merged into the writing and do not differ in ink, firmness of hand or anything else. There are punch holes at the top left. They are written on one side only.

11 to the first page 20 are a folded set, on squared paper. The writing flows from page 10, and looks just the same. The edits are merged into the writing throughout these pages. They are punched in the top left hand corner. They are written on one side only. The writing on page 20 stops near the top of the page after only 4 lines and one word. ‘... one sex the other.’ There are punch holes at the top left.

The next set of folded squared sheets are numbered starting 19. The text does not follow from the previous set, but commences mid-sentence – ‘... showing the interaction of the mutual...’ However, the writing is very similar as is ink etc. Pages 19 to 25 (first 25), the edits are merged, but the writing gets bigger and wilder or quicker& there are more edits of a more serious kind (eg. this page 22 to 25). Pages 19 and 25 are a fold; those in between are single sheets. They are written on one side of paper only. There are punch holes at the top left.

The next set is also of squared paper, pages 24 to 33. The sense, however, does directly follow on from the page 25 that completed the last set, so the ‘wrong’ numbering could just be a mistake. This set is numbered 24 to 33. This is, like the previous set, in larger wilder quicker writing, more edits, sometimes whole sections crossed through. These are all merged changes & it looks like a kind of first writing/editing. In this there are some clear changes of writing and pen or nib. There are punch holes at the top left.

34 and 35 are separate sheets of squared paper, the tears at the edges don’t fit together. The sense appears to follow on from page 33 above. Page 35 is a busy messy page. There are punch holes at the top left.

36 and 37 are joined sheets of squared paper; the sense follows on from 35 I think – but this needs checking. There are punch holes at the top left.

38 and 39 are joined sheets of squared paper; they might or might not follow on; but the writing & nib look different to me. Page 39 has a sentence on its back. There are punch holes at the top left.

40 to 47 are squared paper sheets all folded into each other. 46 is actually a loose sheet, torn from its fellow. Schreiner has made this fit in – its last word repeats the first word of page 47. And there are two page 47s here. There are punch holes at the top left.

48 to 53 are ordinary lined paper, the same that FMTMpp26 is written on, and it has the same white watermark in it when held to the light. They start with a crossed out line – edited to make it follow page 47. Actually 48 and what is written on its back are what Schreiner has originally written; the other pages are folded in, 49 & 50 are joined, 51 and 52 are separate sheets and none of the tears fit each other; page 53 genuinely seems to follow, though. There are NO punch holes in this set of paper.

53 and 56 is a fold of squared paper, and within this are pages 54 and 55. The writing is similar to, and it does literally follow on from, p.53. I surmise the ordinary lined paper manuscript came first. Schreiner is editing it into a ‘new’ squared paper version. There are punch holes at the top left.

57 to 59 (with two repeat page 59s) are single torn sheets of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

Page 60 and 63 are a fold, 61 and 62 are within it; all follow on. These are squared paper pages. There are punch holes at the top left.

65 to 68 are two folds of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

69 is a single sheet of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left. The sense sort of follows on from p68 above.

70 and 71 are a fold of ordinary lined paper; I would say the other sheets are crafted around them at bottom 69 and start 71. There are however punch holes at the top left.

72 is a separate sheet of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

73 and 74 are a folded sheet of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

75 is ordinary lined paper and 76 is on its back – this is the first sheet so far to be written on both sides. There are punch holes at the top left.

77 and 78 are a fold of squared paper; 78 has, on its back & the other way up,

50 Gore Rd

Victoria Park

London E.


My dear Mr ?Marfoll


There are punch holes at the top left. Nb. This address was used to check for a likely date of writing, at least of what is on the reverse – a letter to Edward Carpenter dated 8 June 1887 says OS has just taken rooms at this address, and she was still there in August 1887.

80 and 81 are a fold of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left. The very last bit of 82 is frayed away with the last word or two missing.

82 is a separate sheet of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

83 to 86 are a fold of squared paper. There are punch holes at the top left.

87 and 90 are a fold of squared paper; within this are sheets 88, 89 and another 89. There are punch holes at the top left.

91 to 93 are separate sheets of ordinary lined paper; the tears at the left-hand edges don’t follow. Same line watermark as all other sheets of this kind. There are punch holes at the top left.

94 is a single sheet (alone in an archive plastic folder, oddly) of squared paper. At its bottom is a ‘Note’ OS has written for herself, of 3 points. On its back, at right-angles, at the right edge facing left in, is --

/To be returned

c/o To

Miss O Schreiner

Grand Hotel


  1. Italy.’


Nb. This writing & ink seems to be current with what is ‘the manuscript’. It might or might not have a punch hole at the top left as it is a bit tatty.

There is a jump here, or rather a break, in the action and the characters.

97 to 114 is a thick wodge of ordinary lined paper, the sheets all folded. It has the same watermark white-line in it as the others of this ilk. The writing looks different – the nib seems thinner. There is rather little amendment to these pages. There are punch holes at the top left.

115 to 121 are missing.

122 to 147 - the page numbers for this next set of sheets start at page 122, and there is a jump in the text from what is on page 114. These too are ordinary lined paper, there are two pages 146, the second of which has been amended from 145. These sheets are all folded (122 and 146 have come asunder, but the marks of the edges fit each other; they have the same white-line watermark in it as the others. However, sheets 129 and 132 have been inserted. I would say the sense of these doesn’t quite flow on. Page 134 has 135 on its back and 136 has 137 on its back; these back pages mix ink with pencil writing and editing. 138 has 139, 140 has 141, 142 has 143, 144 has 146 on its back, while the number of 145 following has been amended to 146 and it has 147 on its back. ALSO, the last side here, numbered 147, has at its bottom and upside down a page 122 with 5 lines on. There are punch holes at the top left corner.

144 is squared paper and in pencil has been re-numbered as 148, and it has 145 re-numbered as 149 on its back; its fold is numbered 150 with no changes and the text follows, although its back is numbered 152. There are punch holes at the top left corner.

This is followed by 153, which is a single sheet with 154 on its back and is squared paper. There is NOT a punch hole at the top left corner.

155 follows, on squared paper; it is a folded sheet, written on both sides of the paper, and so 156, 157 and 158 follow. On page 158, the other way up, is --

‘My dear Mr Harris,

I very much enjoyed my’


158 (again) is a separate sheet of squared paper, written on one side only, and is entirely crossed through with six vertical lines. There are NO punch holes on this.

This is followed by another page 158, which is on squared paper; it is one single sheet, written on one side only. There is NO punch hole, but there is sign of a pin having pinned it to something else.

Then there is yet another page 158, a set of folded sheets numbered 158 – 165. They are on ordinary lined paper and are written on both sides. There are NO punch holes, but there are signs of a pin having pinned them to something else. There is an insert in a bubble on 159 which strays onto p164.

Regarding the page numbering of the manuscript. This all seems to be in Olive Schreiner’s writing. There is one fold of paper (97 – 114, on lined paper) that are Slightly less certain, but the rest is so. However, this does not necessarily mean that Schreiner herself assembled these pages and wodges in this exact order. The pencilled ‘Chap 4’ written onto page 97 is definitely not her writing, and looks very much as if it is by Cronwright-Schreiner.


Some thoughts

This longer of that two HRC FMTM manuscripts starts headed with ‘Chapter 6 The Diary of a prig’. An SSCS note dated 31.1.21 (some 6 weeks after Schreiner’s death) says ‘Written 1886-7 Alassio’. However, to say ‘Alassio’ as where it was worked on is clearly much too simple, as is ‘1886-7’. There are multiple mentions in letters of Schreiner editing in London (and some of the bits on the manuscript demonstrate this), as well as in Clarens, Mentone and then Alassio, as she travelled about.

A kind of break exists with at the bottom of p. 94 with a 3 point note to Schreiner herself of things she needed to write about.

The manuscript then re-commences on a p. 97. The first 111 pages (perhaps more but perhaps less than this given all the complications of numbering) relate partly to Chapter VI ‘How Baby-Bertie went a-dancing’ in the published FMTM, and partly to its Chapter III’ The dam wall’, though the precise detail needs checking.

On p. 112, Chapter 5 starts, ‘Showing how the cicadas sing in the bush on a hot Sunday’. It seems to follow on from the above – BUT, it relates, however, to part of Chapter IV in the published FMTM, and it follows Bertie telling John Ferdinand about the tutor etc. It is ‘the same but different’ from what is published. And it is in a reverse order to the Chapter 6 of the manuscript.

Preliminary conclusion is that the parts of this manuscript that are on the ordinary lined paper come from the original manuscript that Schreiner worked on after the publisher turned it down. From the paper changes, and from the interesting relationship between the squared sheets and the ordinary lined paper, this seems partly the result of what she was doing in 1884 when she commented to Ellis about wishing she had never changed it (11 July 1884, when she is in Derbyshire), partly from her working on it while in Italy from January to ?June 1887 and then at Gore Road (June - ?Oct 1887) and thought she should throw it away.

Immediately, the title of the draft of Chapter 6, ‘The diary of a prig’, gives away the intention – it provides a very strong message about Rebekah and what she is about. It is a direct instruction to the reader, in fact. In transcribing the text, it comes across that Rebekah is almost wilfully oblivious to others, or rather to Bertie specifically.

Something else that leaps off the page is that in this manuscript’s Chapter 6, Veronica Grey and John Ferdinand arrive on their honeymoon, while in ‘the book’, John Ferdinand is still wooing Bertie when the incident of Veronica going into his room, fingering his clothes and breaking the daguerreotype of Bertie occurs. So although in the HRC manuscript Chapter 6 is followed by Chapter 5, and in a sense this mirrors what is in ‘the book’, in terms of the manuscript world, Chapter 5 does seem come before ‘The diary of a prig.’. This is an interesting thought and needs thinking about it in detail.

 Another notable aspect of the manuscript is that descriptions of Bertie stress both her physical characteristics, and her personality or character traits, and these align her with ‘primitives’ and children. They include her sloping forehead, her child-like responses, even the way she speaks when, after John Ferdinand’s rejection, she insists on leaving the farm with Rebekah ‘I will go. I am going.’