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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/1a-xxix
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 3 July 1884
Address FromHolly Cottage, Mount Pleasant, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Bedfordshire
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 25-6; Rive 1987: 44; Draznin 1992: 78-9
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.
3Thankyou. I would like to see your diary so much. I have a kind of
4journal, but that is mainly of events, not of thoughts & feelings.
6I’m ^no^to a bit afraid now. You do comfort me.
8I am just the same in body but it’s only the place, I mean the house
9& its position more than the place generally Did I ever tell you how
10my chest first got bad. I was four days quite without food, &
11travelling all the time; I had nothing but a little cold water ^all
12that time.^ I had no money to buy food. When I ate the first mouthful
13at the end of the time, I got this horrible agony in my chest, & bad
14to rush out & for weeks I never lie down night or day. I suffocated if
15I even leaned back. Ever since that if I get to a place that is close,
16& damp & hot, it comes back.
18I have been to many doctors, some say it is an affection of the heart
19some say it is asthma of a very peculiar kind. They all say they have
20never seen a case just like it, & I don’t like to tell them how it
21began. Some how one can’t go back into the past without blaming
22those that are dearest to one. & it is better to let the past dead
23bury its dead.^eh?^ I have not been able to go for any walks. Twice I
24have been for a little way & yesterday I walked up & down before the
25door. You wouldn’t know me if you were to see me; I look so funny,
26my face ^is^ such a dark red with the blood in my head.
28There is no need to be anxious about me. I shall be better when I get
29to a fresher breezier place.
31You will perhaps like to see some of the reviews of S.A.F. so I send
32you some. Send them back because they are my Dadda’s. I’m sorry I
33didn’t keep any. It would be rather amusing after many years – if
34I live so long – to look at them.
36You say I must tell you what I am doing, but I don’t do anything
37except walk about my room & try to breathe & lie down on my bed & try
38to breathe. I don’t think it would do for me to stay here long I
39feel as though if I did I should stay here altogether. [one side of the
40page has been torn off here]
42feel no passion. The passion is there, but something stronger
43over-rides it.
45I wish you could have had what you needed in Australia.
47I never used to want to be good. I used to want to know, & to be, & to
48do. Now I want to be good too. It is this time of pain that has done
49it. It has broken my spirit. I am much more pitiful & tender than I
50used to be. I love every thing that can feel. You will see the
51difference in any work I do now. Do you think it is for the worse or
52the better?
54I am glad you told Louie. I was afraid you wouldn’t & it would make
55you untrue. ^Please work very^ Love hard. & don’t let me trouble you.
57You know I’m not good at all. It’s because I've never told you any
58of the mean little things about myself that you I think I am perhaps
59better than you.
61I have much I want to tell you.
63You must say Aspley on Apsley.
64Good bye.
67You must say just what you think about New Rush, & about every thing
68connected with me.
70You must not be anxious about me I shall soon be better.
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is different in some respects 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.