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Letter ReferenceLetters/319
Epistolary Type
Letter Date11 November 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 146-7; Rive 1987: 143
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1To Havelock Ellis.
2Alassio, 11th Nov.
4I've been working hard at my Mary Wollstonecraft all day. What
5troubles me is that I have too many ideas. You say, why do I spend so
6much time over it? How can I do otherwise? Whatever I write, it must
7be the best I can write, given that time and these circumstances. When
8I die the angel of death will find quite pure in me the power of
9thinking and of seeking that was born in me. I have not once defiled
10it. If I was writing for ten thousand pounds or for three and sixpence,
11 my work would be just the same. Perhaps when it's done you'll wonder
12that it took so long and see nothing in it, but I see. I expect when
13it is done I'll throw it in the fire.
‘My Mary Wollstonecraft’ refers to an ‘Introduction’ to a new edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Schreiner agreed to write, but which was never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal 37: 189-93. See also: Mary Wollstoncraft (1792) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman London: J. Johnson.