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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/2b-xv
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateFriday 24 October 1884
Address From144 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 43; Draznin 1992: 176-7
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. Schreiner was resident in St Leonards at different addresses from mid October 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Friday Morning
3Fancy, I haven’t got the books yet. Were they sent do you think. My
4brother has been away at Northampton visiting his wife who is visiting
5her relations there, perhaps that’s why it ^they^ haven’t been sent on
6to me. I’ve got the blue book, I sat but a great part of last night
7reading it. It makes my blood boil all through me. It isn’t the C.D.
8acts themselves that make me feel so, I am against them but they are a
9small thing, it is the whole thing – & that damned & damnable “it is
10necessary.” We shall see if it is necessary, if in fifty years hence
11there is such a think as an outcast class of women in England. If it
12is necessary to pull down the whole structure of society to get out
13that stone that lies at the foundation of it, it must be pulled down &
14built up again better.
16The combinations fit beautifully. Somehow they are different from
17other combinations to me.
19I am working. I will send you Remembrances to-morrow. My chest is bad
20but I can work, & I will, anyway. I’m read a good deal of Madam
21Roland yesterday with the dictionary I carry keep my French grammar by
22my bed side so that as soon as my eyes are open in the morning I can
23begin to work. I am going to work this winter like I used to at the Cape.
25I am still troubled about you, wondering if the de time you give to
26medicine is energy diverted from its right course. I can’t feel that
27it is. I have just finished making a tiny Irish stew it is boiling in
28a pot on my fire; the pot is about as big as my fist. I wish you were
29going to taste it I can make such nice Irish stews. Thankyou for
30understanding my letters though they seem not real. I think you can
31trust me, only don’t rest too much on any human being. “Woe unto man
32who hath loved the creature more than the creator, who is blessed
33forever more.” I have heard those words ringing in my ears for months.
34We take the human being & we make it stand for everything to is. “It
35were better for that man that he had not been born.”
37Give my love to Louie. I haven’t extenall news to give you. I wil
38haven’t seen any one but Wilfred since I came here, & & read & think &
39look at the sea, & read & think & look at the sea. I’m getting strong
40like I used to ?me be, that feeling of my heart being all iron. Have
41you ever had it? I am not miserable at all. I never cry. Your letters
42are so precious to me.
46^Yes, I should like to see Miss Haddon’s paper, but of course I shan’t
47agree with it.^
The ‘blue book’ Schreiner mentons is the government report or ‘Blue Book’ on the workings of the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864, 1867, 1869. Schreiner’s ‘Remembrances’ are incomplete and appear in Cronwright-Schreiner’s The Life of Olive Schreiner London: Unwin. The book referred to is: Marie-Jeanne Roland (1820) Memoirs Paris. Louie Ellis was also in correspondence with Schreiner; and while none of Schreiner’s letters to Louie survive, three of Louie’s letters to Schreiner are archived with the Ellis materials at HRC. There had been a conversation between the Ellises about one of Schreiner’s manuscripts in October 1884, as the following (HRC/HavelockEllis/Misc/LouieEllistoOS/1) indicates:

'24 Thornsett Road
South Penge Rd
Oct. 24th / 84

My dear Olive,

Thank you so much for your last long letter. Henry seemed amused at you asking my advice about he M.S.S. & thinks (?) you thought you were writing for to him. Hasn’t he already given you him opinion? I like Sunday at the laarger, but the F.A.M.P. best of all. They are interesting to you thro’ knowing the people. They are ditto to me thro’ knowing you, but apart from person–alites there n is a quiet interest about them which makes one want to finish them.

I am thankful you are strong & bright again – the sea air has made mother come home clothed & in her right mind – she went almost straights from her bed.

He you become reconciled to your hat ^& dress^ yet? I have invested in a fascinating red velvet bonnet which goes to a ?peak in front, it has tips & wings & was only 17/-. Henry is just going to make the coco-a for supper – I am glad to hear cooking is among your accomplishments.

I’m tired or would write a longer letter.
With love from

Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.