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Letter ReferenceLife/2
Epistolary Type
Letter Date1909
Address Fromna
Address To
Who ToWestminster Gazette
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner (1924) The Life…: 155-6
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner wrote The Life of Olive Schreiner, he included a small number of largely complete letters which do not appear in The Letters, then destroyed them. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, when Schreiner’s originals can be compared against his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Consequently the relationship of these letters embedded in The Life... to what Schreiner originally wrote cannot be gauged, and they should therefore be read with caution. Cronwright-Schreiner provides the date of this open letter and the name of its addressee. The beginning and end of this letter have not been provided.
1May I state there is no foundation for this statement. I only had the
2honour of meeting Mr. George Meredith once for four or six minutes
3while I was waiting in a publisher’s waiting-room to see the publisher.
4 The person who showed me up said the gentleman there was Mr. George
5Meredith, the firm’s reader. On the table when I went in was an open
6illustrated paper with pictures of the Boer and British Amajuba
7troubles in the Transvaal. As I stood at the table looking at the
8picture the gentleman made some remark to me about it. I was at that
9time feeling very hotly on the matter, and stated my opinion that the
10Boers were a noble race, and had been most unjustly treated by us. To
11my astonishment the gentleman entirely agreed with me, and spoke even
12more warmly than I had done.
14When in a few moments a messenger came to tell me the publisher was
15ready to see me, he looked very intently at me and said that he
16presumed that I was a young writer, and that there was one piece of
17advice he always felt compelled to give to young authors - never to
18make any agreement with a publisher without putting down everything in
19black and white, and always to get some friend who was a competent
20business man to make the arrangements for them. I then went out to the
21publishers’ office and never saw Mr. Meredith again. I was unable to
22act on his very valuable advice, as all my business arrangements with
23the publishers were then already completed and the book in their hands.
25Not only was my book not mentioned between us, but we referred to no
26literary topic - at that time I knew him only as a publisher’s reader;
27and it was only some time after, when a friend sent me a book of his
28poems, that I found out that he also was a writer. Not only did Mr.
29Meredith not write to me, but I have never seen his handwriting, nor
30has any communication, directly or indirectly, ever passed between us
31except for those few moments.
33My book (the original of which I still have) had been so carefully
34prepared by me, before I sent it up to London for the publishers to
35see, that it was published without the omission or addition of one
36sentence, or, I think, of one word or stop.
The book referred to is The Story of An African Farm.