"About Rebecca Schreiner, OS's childhood, her writing" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceFindlay Family A1199/B Documents: Box 7/6
ArchiveWilliam Cullen Library, Historical Papers, University of the Witwatersrand
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateMay 1899
Address FromPO Box 406, Johannesburg
Address To
Who ToHudson Findlay
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the William Cullen Library, University of Johannesburg, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Historical Papers. This letter has been dated by reference to content and that it was written responding to a letter from her US publiher dated 19 May 1899. The addressee is implicit from content and archival location. There is no start and finish to the letter, which was sent to Hudson Findlay with the publisher's letter still attached for his guidance.
1 There should have been no printer's bill if they had kept their terms
2in our agreement, & published the articles in newspapers or magazines.
3Br Roberts Brothers had no right to give the articles only two I
4believe that they had or perhaps three. They had not the permit - they
5promised me to print them in an American newspaper or magazine on the
6date on which they were printed in England, & that would have made
7them copyright in the states.
8
9 Never the less if you can make a good arrangement with another
10publisher, I would pay the charge of the printing which could not be
11more than £20 if the lawyer thinks it necessary. Rather than have no
12I will not, because that seems to imply they have a right to it which
13is not true.
14
15
16
Notation
This letter was written following Schreiner's receipt of a letter from her US publisher, Little, Brown & Co, dated 19 May 1899, as follows:

P.O. Box 2158
Little, Brown, & Company,
254 Washington Street, Boston

Publishers, Booksellers, and Importers of Law, and General Literature.

May 19, 1899.

Mrs. Olive Schreiner,
P.O. Box 406,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dear Madam:-

We have received your letter of Apr. 16. We assure you that we greatly regret that any misunderstanding has arisen regarding the publication of your books. We purchased Messrs. Roberts Bros. publishing business last June, and they transferred to us all their rights. There has not been a single instance where an author has made any objection, until now. Our reputation as publishers in this country is as good as that of any house that can be named, and we assure you that we intend to do all in our power to further your interests.

We regret that when the copyright account was made up in January last the clerk who made the credits overlooked Trooper Peter Halket, and we have today credited your account copyright on 44 copies at 12 1/2c, amounting to $5.50, which amount we enclose herewith.

Our understanding regarding the books is that we are now to pay 10% of the published price upon sales of Peter Halket and Dreams, and 5c a copy upon sales of the Story of an African Farm. The copyright book of Messrs. Roberts Bros. shows that the arrangement in regard to the Dream Life was that 10% of the retail price is to be paid you after enough copies have been sold to equal £60 paid upon publication. The book is published here at 60c, which would make the royalty 6c per copy, and it would require sales of 5,000 copies to reach this amount. Thirty-five hundred copies have been printed, and we now have 500 on hand, so that there are still 2,000 copies to sell before royalty is to be paid. We would add that Dream Life and Peter Halket are duly copyrighted here under the International Copyright Law, affording you and ourselves proper protection, but the other two books, --The Story of an African Farm and Dreams, -- were issued before the International Copyright Law was passed and although we are paying copyright to you we can receive no protection. The books can be made by anyone, and we believe there are competing editions upon which no copyright is paid.

In regard to your forthcoming book, Stray Thoughts on South Africa, we would say that the contract calls for the payment of 10% on the retail price of all copies of said book sold, and we are perfectly willing to publish the book and carry out this agreement. Messrs. Roberts Bros. turned over to us with the contract, proof sheets of the book, and the printers' bill is a liability that we assumed in connection with the performance of the contract.

We take pleasure in sending you by mail our catalogues, in which you will find your books described, and we shall issue a new catalogue this summer, in which will be combined all the books acquired from Messrs. Roberts Bros., as well as those previously published and since issued by us.

We are glad to learn that you are to visit this country, and if there is anything we can do for you we trust you will write to use regarding it.

Trusting that this letter will result in our being better acquainted with each other, and assuring you of our hearty co-operation in regard to your books, we are

Very truly yours,
Little, Brown & Co.

We shall be glad to receive your portrait as early as possible.