"I know by experience I can make a woman perfectly happy" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/3/157-159
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateTuesday 14 December 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 116-18
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early October to late December 1886, when she left England for Europe. The name of the addressee is indicated by content.
1 Tuesday afternoon
3 Thank you for your letter. It is the most valuable & helpful I ever
4got from you. Thank you for your directness in it.
6 //What you say must be based on something Dr Donkin wrote. I think I
7can see how he came to write it. I am sure his motive was pure & good.
8He came in on Monday morning & found me much worse with your letter in
9my hand. I never show your letters to anyone, & I could not tell him
10what was in it because there were others besides you & myself
11mentioned in it. He came to a conclusion of his own I imagine & rushed
12away, & later on in the day he told me he had thought it would do me
13good to see you & had written. I could not not question him as to what
14he had written, but or be angry, his state of feeling is unreadable
15sensitive, but it hurt me more than I can tell you that he should have
16asked you. Donkin can’t understand with his simple beautiful child
17nature. If he told you I loved you with sex-love it was only a mistake
18on my his part. You will forgive him. I do.
20 //Karl Pearson, thank you for speaking to me so plainly. Nothing has
21been brought into our friendship by you that has spoiled it.
23 //Seeing you, speaking to you, hearing from you, has been mental
24stimulation & strength to me. Emotionally you have been an exceeding
25great joy to me because of the intellectual strength you have given me.
26 I have never misunderstood you, never for one moment thought you
27loved me ^as a woman.^ You are drawn to me intellectually & I am of
28great interest to you.
30 For me, when I look deep into the my depths of my own heart I see a
31feeling that is deeper, than the feeling I have had for any human
32being; but it is not sex-love. I do not love I you as a soul loves
33itself. You will say "O.S., you are deceiving yourself, that is
34sex-love". I deny it.
36 When Henry Ellis showed me something you had written long before I saw you
38 Do you know what draws me closer to you than to any other human being?
39It is that your mind works in the same way as mine, that your mental
40processes are carried on like mine
, your brain works with its material
41in the same way
. This is the case with no other human being. I cared
42as much for you almost before I had seen you, when Mr Ellis showed me
43a thing you had written, as I do today. Now when I read what you have
44written I feel my brain beating against yours; when I see you I am
45removed from you. Do you believe ^understand^ this? If I could would
46open a vein in my arm & let all my blood run into your body to
47strengthen you for my ^your^ work. Your work is mine.
49 //If ever you thought you saw an element of sex creeping into my
50thought or feeling for you, why didn’t you tell me of it, & crush it?
51See, I love you better than anything else in the world, & I have tried
52to keep far from you that nothing material might creep in between my
53brain & yours, & you have not understood me.
55 I took in earnest what you said about our working for a month. The
56first part of last month was the happiest time of my life.
58 //I have been in bed fourteen days. I took the illness walking about
59in my wet lanes at Harrow & sitting in my wet clothes in the train. I
60am better now. Your letter did me no harm, it was deliciously true.
62 //Won’t it be glorious to see mountains? I’m so happy ^about it.^ I
63don’t yet know where I shall go.
65 //Will you keep the book I send?
67 //I can do quite well without intercourse with you.
69 I am going to work hard. It may be that not at the end of a month but
70of a life you & I, an old man & woman, will compare work! Won’t it be
73 Thank you for the mental work-power all intercourse with you has been.
74Good bye.
76 Yours always faithfully
78 Olive Schreiner
80 Book Book requires no thanks. Nor letter a reply. Thank you for your
81letter. unreadable
83 I am going to the Cape in February & I will send a valuable papers on
84sex relations among savages for the club some day. I shall study
85Kaffir women.
The book Schreiner had sent to Pearson is perhaps her childhood Bible, which is in the Pearson collection. Riv'?s (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.