"Du Bois, great desolating native war" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/331
Epistolary Type
Letter Date1889
Address FromMentone, France
Address To
Who ToMary King Roberts
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 151; Rive 1987: 145
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. Cronwright-Schreiner has provided the year the letter was written in.
1To Mrs. Mary King Roberts.
4Our first duty is to develop ourselves. Then you are ready for any
5kind of work that comes. The woman who does this is doing more to do
6away with prostitution and the inequalities between man and woman, and
7to make possible a nobler race of human beings, than by all the
8talking and vituperation possible. It is not against man we have to
9fight but-against ourselves within ourselves. We have to rise. ... It
10seems to me you and Dr. Roberts have such an ideally beautiful life
11with one another; there is so much you can give him, and so much he
12can give you. I think marriage is much the highest condition
13physically and mentally, though it is not attainable by many of us in
14the present condition of society. ... To help any woman to be
15independent, that is the real Secret of Freedom. Please don't give up
16your longing to be materially independent because your husband is
17noble and generous; you must be lovers and friends and companions
18right on to the end of your lives, and not sink into the sad old
19groove. It is this which matters, not whether one signs one's name in
20a register or not. ... Please don't mind all I've said in this letter.