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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/59
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 December 1892
Address FromGanna Hoek, Cradock, Eastern Cape
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 216-7
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections. Schreiner stayed with her friends the Cawoods on their Ganna Hoek farm over Christmas 1892.
1 Xmas day
2 1892
4 Dear Ed
6 I want to write to you this day. It’s so nice here. I’m staying at
7the old farm where I used to live when I was a young girl & where I
8finished part of An African Farm. It’s a beautiful, wild place, one
9of the most beautiful in the world & I wish you were here to see it. I
10always have been thinking of you since I came here. The wild bush of
11mimosa thorns comes right down to the house & its full of wild animals.
12 The other day we caught a little baby monkey with a long tail in the
13tree just behind my window, & there are heaps of Baboons one hears
14fighting in the trees. The day before yesterday we killed two snakes.
15Early in the morning I was walking on the mountain reading by myself,
16& almost trod on one. Soon after in the house, the girl was making the
17tutors bed, & she heard something fall off. It was a cobra, & we’ve
18got them both in bottles. I like to feel this wild, untamed life with
19"the will to live" still strong & untamed in it, seething about one.
20It makes the old strength come back into ones heart. It’s
21beautifully hot here. You know how lovely that is, the fierce clear
22sunlight shining full on you. Yesterday I went alone on the top of a
23koppje & took off all my clothes & wandered about for hours in the hot
24dry sand & thorny bushes. Its delightful to feel the sand direct on
25one. In England it’s so cold one must cover & peep & have conviction
26of ?sin all the while. I’m staying here with a big family a father &
27mother & eleven children, nearly all grown up. They are such a
28beautiful big family you’d enjoy seeing them all round the table.
29The day after tomorrow we are going to make a big party & climb the
30high mountain behind the house.
32 A young farmer who lives 30 miles off is coming with his two sisters
33to go with us. He’s a beautiful fellow draws me greatly, he’s
34something like Waldo, but fiercer & stronger. One day he may make one
35of the few & first men who have ever made a stand in South Africa.
36That is my dream for him. Now in our public life all is low low ebb.
37It has almost broken my heart. I’m so glad to get away here for a
38little while to this dear old wild nature. There are big leopards in
39the bush & every thing nice. I like them better than politicians. One
40feels so sure here, that everything is in a transitional state, & that
41the bigger time is coming some day. It’s harder to feel it in the
42world. If ever you come to Africa you must come & stay here with these
43friends of mine. I’ll give you a letter of introduction, & they’ll
44all love you. Everyone is very busy now reading Morris’s "News from
45Nowhere" which I brought with me. I’m going to send them all your
46books. I’ve been here nearly a month now & must soon be moving on to
47see my little mother. I shall only be able to stop in England three
48months, say May, June & July, then it’ll be too damp. Will you try &
49let me have a look at you while I’m in London?
51 The sad side of our life in Africa is our native question. I’m
52writing a paper on it now.
54 How does the world go at Mill Thorpe. Drop me a line if you have time.
55Love to George & his wife, & send this note on to our Bob because I
56haven’t time to write him any Xmas letter
58 Your little sister
59 Olive
61 The tutor here is a young consumptive Englishman from Oxford whom I
62got a place here for because he was very ill in Cape Town. He’s a
63socialist, the only socialist I’ve seen since I left England. People
64haven’t heard of socialism here, except a few workmen in the big
67^All the people here about still call me "de kleine schoolmisses" "the
68little schoolmistress" it’s so nice & so funny. All my English life
69seems sometimes a dream, only when I walk alone in my old places in
70the bush I feel a lot of the fire is burnt out. I wish you could see
71these mimosa trees in flower, they are so nice. ^
73 Olive
The book referred to is: William Morris (1892) News from Nowhere Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.