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Letter ReferenceT120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/6- pages 58-61
ArchiveNational Archives Depot, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: March 1890 ; Before End: December 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Thomas Stead
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 203
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National Archives Repository, Pretoria, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Micofilm Collections. The year has been written on this letter in an unknown hand, while content suggests it was written from Matjesfontein, where Schreiner was mainly resident from March 1890 for around two years, with frequent visits elsewhere.
1Thank you, good friend, for your letter. But your last two letters
2don’t seem like you. Perhaps it is only their being in type but it
3seems to me as if some one else had written them.
5I don’t remember what I said about Madame Novikoff’s writing; of
6course I am bitterly opposed to her views ^on Russian matters^, & could
7fight things to the death if I had the knowledge & power, but the
8woman herself must be very fine from all I have heard of her, & it
9would have put anything I said as attacking her^self^ views & not
as well as her writings. I believe in attacking views & lines
11of policy, the great aim is to ignore the person, who may appart from
12those views be the best & nobblest being, & far better than ourselves.
13I don’t at all mind dear old Booths hating my book, or like him the
14less for it; its my book is the only little tiny bit of myself I’ve
15given to the world, & if they attack it fairly, not seeming to praise
16it that this may add something else, I can quite sympathize with them
17for attacking it. But I am very very grateful to people who feel
18affectionate to it, as you say Miss Harkness does. You say you are
19thinking of sending her out to see me. I am if you can manage it. I am
20very grateful to any one who wishes to see me, but I have come out to
21Africa entirely that I might be alone, & gone through the bitter agony
22of parting with the human beings I love best in the world in England,
23that I might come to Africa for several years to work. Many of my
24friends offered to come with me, & more than I can count have written
25to the say they would come, but I am have begged them all not. I have
26given up 10 years of my life entirely to people & I would & want ?this
27?to work, then I shall come back to work among
29^people, & giving my time up to them. Even my my beloved favourite
30brother & sister have never been to to see me here at Matjesfontein.
31At intervals of four months I go for one week to see them, & their
32little ones, & that is the only change I have allowed myself since I
33came except once when I went to Bloemfontein. I am telling you all
34this lest you should think me churlish. When my work is done, I shall
35rejoice so to welcome all good friends all over the world, but now I
36think I am right in trying to work. Will you show this letter to Miss
because she might not understand if you did not. I am sure
38she is large enough to understand my need of just for quiet.
39Address to Matjesfontein^
41Yours always
42Olive Schreiner
44P.S. The books have just come. Thanks much.
Stead’s article on Olga Novikoff actually apeared as the February 'Character Sketch'. See W.T. Stead ‘Madame Olga Novikoff’ Review of Reviews, February 1891 pp.123-30. ‘My book’ which Booth would hate is perhaps The Story of An African Farm, although it could have been Dreams, which appeared in 1890. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract from this letter is incorrect in various ways.