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Letter ReferenceHRC/OliveSchreinerUncatLetters/OS-TFisherUnwin/19
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 September 1892
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToT. Fisher Unwin
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 208-9
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.
1Matjesfontein
2Sep 25 / 92.
3
4Dear Mr Unwin
5
6Thank you for Byzantium.
7
8I couldn’t write the book you mention, it’s not the kind of work I
9can do, & I shouldn’t like anything I wrote ever to come out in a
10series in which anyone else had written, except an author whom I
11particularly loved & admired. I have too a large book of my own on
12South Africa in quite another style to bring out.
13
14// I think the whole series of stories of the Nations most useful. But
15the flower of the series, as far as I have seen it, a rel is Chaldea
16by Z A Ragozin. Is the writer a man or woman?? It is a real “book”
17not only a compilation. There is individuality & life in it: I’ve
18read it twice, & have felt much interested in the writer. Two very
19able judges whom I know have also been much struck with it. I should
20be glad to think it was the work of a woman.
21
22About the African Book – why do you not write to Mr Theal the great
23authority of South African History? If he would do the work it would
24be admirably done. His “history of the Boers” is good, but his
25little book “Cape Commanders,” is high, first class work; a book
26worth reading again & again. Would you like me to send him the letter
27you sent me, or would you like to write again to him yourself. Cape
28Town, South Africa, will find him. Everyone knows him.
29
30A most interesting volume for your series would be one on the Native Races
31of South Africa. Mr Theal might be willing to write that also. He is
32without doubt the ablest & best authority on South African matters. If
33he can’t – the Hon J Wilmot M.L.C. might be willing to write
34either. His address will be Port Grahamstown South Africa. He has
35already written one most admirable little book on the Cape, & has a
36finished literary style. If you can’t get either of these two I
37should advise Mr John Noble of Cape Town. His ^little^ History of South
38Africa is most reliable & valuable, but he has not the literary
39brilliancy of the other two.
40
41I should be glad if I could be of any service to you in the matter.
42I’m sorry I can’t undertake it myself.
43
44Yours sincerely,
45Olive Schreiner
46
47^Letter No.1.^
48This is a letter of friendship, & therefore pure human good feeling
49
Notation
The final insertion is written so that, when the paper folded, it appears as the front of this letter. The book on Byzantium Schreiner mentions cannot be established. The books referred to are: George McCall Theal (1882) Chronicles of Cape Commanders Cape Town: Richards & Sons; (1891) History of South Africa London: Swan Sonnenschein; John Noble (1877) South Africa Past and Present London: Longman; Zenaide A. Ragozin (1886) Chaldea: From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Asyria London: T. Fisher Unwin. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version of the letter is incorrect in a range of respects.