"Cronwright-Schreiner is a child" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/477
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date25 July 1909
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 287
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 Mrs. Francis Smith.
2De Aar, 25th July.
3
4... Before I was born my mother lost two children, a little son of
5five about six months before, and a little one of two years three
6months before I was born. My mother never cared for her children
7especially her daughters as soon as they were older, say eight or nine.
8 But of her tiny babies and children she was passionately fond. She
9was almost distracted when the little one died three months before my
10birth, and said she found no comfort in anything but walking up and
11down by herself behind the church which stood near the little mission
12house in which I was born. It's curious, as all my life since I was
13almost a baby of two or three, I've always had such a passion for
14walking up and down. One of the first things I can remember, when I
15can't have been more than three, was walking up and down in a passage
16with cocoanut matting on the floor and making stories to myself: and I
17can remember the other children laughing at me and my mother telling
18them they were to leave me alone. Can you remember things when you
19were very small? I and my sister Ettie can remember things quite well
20that happened when we were two, and some of my family can't remember
21anything before they were five, and one brother nothing before he was
22seven.
23