"Saddest & loneliest old years eve, old days at Heald Town" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3b-ix
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday 10 December 1884
Address FromAlexandra House, Denmark Place, Hastings, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 49, 50; Rive 1987: 57; Draznin 1992: 251-2
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to.
1Wednesday Night
3Harry, I do belong to you. If I were married to anyone else, I would
4still belong to you, because our friendship that can be broken or done
5away with, any more than my feeling for Willy Bertram was a thing that
6could pass away. Afar off, it has been the only feeling that was like
7my feeling to you. I have not yet been able to work today, as I had to
8take so much cholodine last night to stop my cough. I am going to work
9now though before I go to bed a little.
11^The wind is howling oh so wild & mad outside. It is so hard to paint
12that bright African world with this dark wild world about one.^
16The heart mustn’t ache. Ach, no, Harry, not about me.
18P.S. I never go to see Miss Jones she comes to see me. I only went
19once in for one moment to tell her I was not coming to take rooms in
20the Marina near to her. She keeps saying she would like to come & live
21with me &cc. It may be that she likes me, but there seems to me an
22exceeding bitterness in her. She askes me questions that you for
23instance have never thought of asking me. After her asking it three or
24four times in a round about ^Hintonian^ way & me refusing to answer her
25she said, “What I want to know is how you live, & where do you get
26money from?” with other questions of the same kind. “Why do you
27not live with your brother?” “What is the reason?”
29I am so sorry about our old Progressive.
31P.S. As I was writing my brother came in. He only stayed about 20
32minutes. He has gone now. He came to say that I must not let money
33stand in the way of my going to Montreux, if I thought that would do
34me good. I am going to try & write now. Good night, my boy. Good night
35Henry. I kiss you dear, & I want your heart never to ache, & never to
40^My brother talks always so nicely of you. He feels nice to you I think.^
42My feeling is that there is nothing in life, but refraining from
43hurting others, & comforting those that are sad. What kind of feeling
44is that for an artist to be narrowed down to?
The first PS starting ‘I never go to see’ is on a separate piece of notebook paper. The second PS is on a small piece of paper and finishes with the insert ‘My brother talks’ after Schreiner’s second signature. The last paragraph is on an even smaller piece of paper. The insert starting ‘The wind is howling’ is on a small torn page; on the same page and crossed though is part of a trial text from From Man to Man, numbered as page 20, as follows:

‘“Don’t mind my having a cigar? – have to get accustomed to it, ah?” He pressed her little arm against his arm.
‘What ^have you^ been doing? Out here? ^when in^ - Listening to greasy ^her arm up^ Orpheus? – sings well” – A sweet smell of havanah smoke went in among the orange trees.
“No,” she said, “I have been ^thinking - ^ thinking
“Ordeal of tomorrow?”’

The characters here are Frank and Rebekah talking on the night before their wedding. Schreiner was resident at two addresses in Hastings from the end of November 1884 to the end of April 1885. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.