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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4a-xvi
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date4 January 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To3 Norwood Villas, Earlswood, Surrey
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 90; Rive 1987: 72; Draznin 1992: 398
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. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from the end of November 1885 to mid January 1886, when she left London for the Isle of Wight.
1My own Henry,
2
3You can not quite understand the state of mind in which I am. I think
4it is general nervous exhaustion. I can hardly unreadable bear to
5think even of any more strain. I must try & forget there are such
6things as morel questions.
7
8I leave on the 14th for Shanklin, if my asthma keeps away I shall
9remain there for some months, probably till the hay-fever time I shall
10let as few people as possible know that I am there, & write as little
11as possible to any one. If it were possible I should go to the Cape
12for three months, but of course I can’t afford it. Before I go will
13you come & spend one long day with me; or I will come to Red Hill &
14stay with you. I am too broken down – not miserable but only, but
15rather simple worn out – to be able to write really a letter to
16anyone. More & more I feel that marriage is not & cannot be a right
17thing, for a nature like mine. If I am to live I must be free, & under
18existing circumstances I feel more & more that no kind of sex relation
19ship can be good & pure but marriage. Dr. Donkin is so tender & sweet
20to me will not even touch my lips reverently unless he
21
22^is quite sure I wish it, & my heart aches for him when I think I can
23never marry him. When I find a man as much stronger than I am as I am
24than a child then will I marry him, no one before. I do not mean
25physically strong, I mean mentally, morraly emotionally, practically.
26I do not think there is such a man^
27
28Olive
29
Notation
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version is taken from Cronwright-Schreiner. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.