"Could Bertrand Russell come & see OS tomorrow" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS-4b-xix
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: 1888 ; Before End: 1889
Address Fromna
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 146; Rive 1987: 146
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 beginning of this letter is missing. It was written after Schreiner left England for Europe in 1888 but before she returned to South Africa in late 1889, thus its approximate dating.
1[page's missing]
3I don’t write to you about myself because I never think of my own life
4I break down. When a thing is painful you must forget it. I made a
5great mistake in not seeing Mr Pearson even in in the distance before
6I left. I spent all the last days waiting in the rain before
7University College hoping to catch a glimps of his as he passed, but I
8didn’t. I felt so when my father died. For six months I agonized, &
9when once I had saved up money & gone to that white grave stone at
10Balfour & looked at it I was perfectly ^quiet^ have never been otherwise
11when I think of him since.
13I wish you would send me a prescription for opium pills like those ^two^
14you sent me at Alassio last year. Dr Philpot gave me a prescription
15for pills to take at my period pure opium, but whether the opium here
16I had I dont know it simply rather excites me than
18^soothes me. Olive^
20I don’t think over much of your theories about genius – though they
21are true so far as they go. Once God Almighty said “I will produce a
22self ^working^ automatic ?machinery for f enduring suffering, which
23shall be capable of the largest amount of suffering in a given space,
24& he made woman; but he wasn’t satisfied that he reached the highest
25point of perfection so he made a man of genius; he was satisfied yet,
26so he com-bined the two - & made a woman of genius - & he was
27satisfied! That’s the real theory. – But in the end he sold himself
28because the machinery he’d constructed, to endure
30^suffering could enjoy bliss too.^
Rive's (1987) version of this letter dates it as January 1889, omits sections and there are also mistakes in transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.