"Votes for women, 'Women & Labour' & sex book" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: John & Mary Brown MSC 26/2.2.10
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date1908
Address FromDe Aar
Address To
Who ToMary Brown nee Solomon
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The year has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The address it was sent from is derived from content.
1 My darling Friend
2
3 Thank you for the papers. Of course I don't want their sentence
4shortened, they are a disgrace to all South African women.
5
6 Thankyou for your dear long letter. I'd like to answer it fully. But
7the heat here is very terrible. Our little room has a flat iron roof
8with one thin layer of plank under it, & the heat is often much
9greater here than outside. Have you ever read a little story of
10Kipling called "The end of Passage." It is often in my head now as I
11lie here. Last night I went down to the camp for dinner thinking it
12would be good to see the people walking about. w^W^hen we came back we
13found the house had been burgled. They had not th broken three or four
14latches ?out of the window shutter & got in all my little boxes &
15things were lying about. They had taken my watch the only thing of any
16value I have out of it's case, & 2/- cigarettes &c &c &c but they
17seems to have been startled & gone away quickly for they left just out
18side the window a huge pick ax with which they had broken it open, &
19two heavy hammers like those you use in breaking stones. Tonight Cron
20has gone down to dinner but I am not going as I didn't like to leave
21my ms. Tonight if it getts cooler & I feel able I am going to pack
22them all into a bag & take them to the bank. I don't think the
23conditions of life here will ever be such that I can finish my book,
24but still I cling to them. They seem the one thing left that still
25relates me to life & my fellow human beings.
26
27 It is nearly 8 o'clock & the thermometer at the head of my bed still
28stands at 89.
29
30 Pl
31
32 I have made one friend here, at least found one person to whom all my
33heart goes out. She is the wife of the ^luggage^ porter at the Hotel.
34She is dying of consumption. She doesn't look as if she could live
35more than a few weeks & she has two lovely little baby girls, two &
36one year & one month month old. She has a little red house at this end
37of the camp. She is a pretty Scotch girl of about 22, but oh so thin,
38so thin. He husband is a young fellow about 25 so beautifully loving
39to her & the children. He only gets a few pounds a month at the hotel,
40but he gets food for her & himself ^from the hotel^, which saves her
41from the trouble of cooking.
42
43 Olive
44
45 ^I want much to see dear Keir Hardie, I've written to Johannesburg but
46I don't believe they'll deliver my letter as I could put no address.
47If you can let him know he must come to see us here. Oh I do long to
48see some of my own people so. I mean those who belong to me,
49
50 Good bye dear one.
51 Olive^
52
Notation
Rudyard Kipling's (1890) 'At the end of the passage' appears in Rudyard Kipling (2006) Strange Tales London: Wordsworth. The book Schreiner comments she may not finish could be 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa', From Man to Man, or else her 'sex book' which eventually became Woman and Labour.