"All art should be an expression of the individual soul; views don't interest me" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/1a-i
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 February 1884
Address FromEdinburgh Hotel, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 12-13; Rive 1987: 35; Draznin 1992: 34-5
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The address this letter was sent to is provided by an associated envelope.
1Edinburgh Hotel
2St. Leonards-on-Sea
3Feb 25 / 84
4
5My dear Sir,
6
7On my return from a visit to London I found your letter which my
8publishers had forwarded here. Had I received it sooner I should have
9earlier written to tell you of the pleasure your expression of
10sympathy with the little book “An African Farm” gave me. Thank you
11for having written.
12
13The book was unreadable written on an Upcountry farm in the Karroo, &
14it gives me ^much^ pleasure to think that other hearts find it real. I
15have been now almost three years in England but I long always for that
16old life.
17
18I agree with you in objecting to Bonaparte: he is drawn closely after
19life, but in hard straight lines with-out shading^,^ & is not artistic^,^
20nor idealized enough. I had no definite idea when I wrote the story
21that I should ever come to England or publish it. It was just one of
22the many little stories I had been making ever since I was five years
23old, & its kind reception at the hands of the critics here surprised
24me much. & a letter such as yours I value much indeed.
25
26There is too much moralising in the story, but when one is leading an
27absolutely solitary life one is apt to use one’s work as Gregory
28used his letters, as an out-let for all one’s superfluous feelings^,^
29without asking too closely whether they can or can not be artistically
30expressed there.
31
32I intend bringing out another book towards the close of the year.
33
34Thank you again for your letter which has given me such pleasure
35
36I am, dear Sir,
37Yours sincerely
38Olive Schreiner
39
Notation
The 'another book' Schreiner refers to is From Man to Man. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version is in minor respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version is also incorrect in minor ways.