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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4a-v
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date27 March 1887
Address FromGrand Hotel, Alassio, Italy
Address Toc/o Dr Grey, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 112; Draznin 1992: 431-2
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. The address this letter was sent to is provided by the associated envelope. The final insertion is on the back of the envelope.
1Grand Hotel D’Alassio
4Mar 27 / 87
6My Have-
8I like this place. I like this room. I like this sea. I like this sky.
9I like these olive trees, they are are like the “bush” at Ganna Hook.
10It’s like the Cape altogether. Never go to Lombardy, it’s hideous. The
11Italian lakes may be all very well but the climate is terrible This is
12like the Italy of my fancy. But the colours are not nearly so
13brilliant or the blue of the sky as intense as at the Cape, quite
14different, still it’s good.
16All the houses here are smashed, the poor people live in sheds in the
17street which the soldiers the government have sent are making for them.
18 Two of the hotels are smashed.
20There were eighty people in this house this time last year, now there
21are only four. Where are you going when you leave Dalton? You ought to
22try & get another place like it. I’m sure its good for you. I must
23write that long letter to you on your mode of treating sex matters as
24soon as I get strong. There’s something morbid just as there is in
25Miss Jones’s way, though it’s different. That line of Swifts you quote
26& all that part is horrible. What you want to say is quite right it’s
27the manner of saying it. Well, what’s in a manner? – Well every thing,
28it’s the soul!
30I mustn’t write about this now; it makes my head ache to write really.
31I’ll write a long, long, letter to you soon.
33Asked little boy this morning to show me Hotel de Londre, offer him
34some money. Little boy, “Oh yes”; trots off before me. I follow him
35for about a mile. Will be so glad when we get to Hotel de Londre;
36guide book says terms so cheap much cheaper than the hotel where I am
37staying now, I’m very hot.
39Little boy at last – “There it is Hotel de Londre” – points to a pile
40of ruins!! I pay him the money sold! retrace my steps!
42The people at the Hotel at Mendrisio cheated me horribly. They took me
43for 5 franks a day. When I left they charged nine & grinned in my face,
44 & said I must pay. No more little Italian villages & inns for me! It
45was a horrible experience to be so entirely in their hands, if they’d
46charged me £10 I’d have had to pay it. All my money is getting done; &
47I can never ask Will to lend me any as he’s got all my
48brother-in-law’s children to support. Isn’t money the bitterness of
49life. And if old Chapman had payed me there would be none of this Hal,
50I love you.
52I’m getting tired
56I think I’ll stay here till June
58^Mendrisio is a horrible place.^
60^Had an earthquake shock at 8 this morning.^
62^Two or three people have written to tell me that Haggards Bess is
63taken entirely from S.A.F. Is it? Did you see the article in P.M.G.
64showing that he look the whole of “She” from an old book written 70
65years ago. They say there are some bits almost copied from S. A. F.!!!^
Bess was actually a parody of Rider Haggard’s and not Schreiner’s work: see John De Morgan (1887) Bess New York: George Munro. The book parodied is: H. Rider Haggard (1887) She Leipzig: Bernhardt Tauchnitz. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) short extract is incorrect in various ways.