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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold3/1914/11
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date21 February 1914
Address FromGrand Hotel, Alassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections. The month has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The letter is on printed headed notepaper.
1 Le Grand Hotel et D’Alassio
2 Alassio
3 Riviera, Italie
4 21st 1914
5
6 Dear old Man
7
8 I have just got your letter. I’d heard from Oliver that the fishing
9wasn’t good which must have spoiled the little holiday a bit. But if
10there were nice folk there it will have been a rest to you.
11
12 I can’t tell you what it was to me to have Ol with me; and yet can
13you understand its left almost a pain in my heart. He’s so beautiful,
14 so sweet, so different from other people that I get a kind of feeling
15that something must happen to him – as it did to Con Lytton
16who’s more like him in character than any one I know. It’s in such
17little things that the greatness of his character comes out. We can
18but wait & see what life has for him. I am so glad to hear from him
19today that our little woman has passed her first exam successfully. It
20will put heart into her. Hers is a nature that needs incouraging. I
21hope you saw Cron when he was in town He will have told you of the
22fish-eating incident. I never eat the food on the train but it makes
23me feel ill for days. I feeling anxious about him.
24
25 I am still in my beloved Alassio. I have quite got over the new hotels
26& houses & love it as much as ever. I suppose why it seems different
27from every other place on earth to me is really because I am so well &
28so free from pain here. I feel to it as Ettie did to Blauberg – when
29I have to die I should so like to die here – but I enjoy every
30moment of being alive here. The Hotel stands right on the sea shore
31with a little row of palm-trees in front of it. The tide here only
32varies a few inches except in storms, so the houses can stand right on
33the sea. There are between 30 & 40 people in the hotel. Most of them
34look very nice but I’ve only made friends with one dear delightful
35German woman who introduced herself to me. She has invited me to come
36& stay with her at her country home near Ouber Ammer Gau. Her daughter
37who is married to a professor at Munich h & who is a leader of the
38woman’s party there has also invited me to stay with them & Dorothy
39Von Moltke
(Dorothy Innes, has asked me to go & spend some days with
40them so I shall see a little of German life from the inside which I
41have always wished to do.
42
43 The weather is still terribly damp & oppressive I hear all the
44Florence people who can come away in the winter, & I shall not be
45returning there till the middle or end of February. Carloni’s
46treatment is immensely expensive & if after months & months of it Miss
47Hobhouse
broke down when she got as far as Beaufort West & I don’t
48see what I who ^have to return^ am to de Aar have got to hope from it!!!
49But I’ll try it for a few weeks.
50
51 Three very interesting suffragettes of the Pankhurst party are staying
52at another Hotel here. They came to see me & yesterday afternoon I
53went & had tea with them. One is an elderly woman of 60 with a clear
54good intellect; one a most charming young girl who reminds me a little
55of Con Lytton, so tall & slight & spiritual; one is the type of
56suffragette which always distresses me. A woman of about 40 unmarried,
57I mean the real un-married type, plain very illogical, & very
58excitable. Quite good & sincere you know - & quite touching in a way
59– but who distresses me by her wild statements. She has never been
60to prison or done anything in particular: - but the pretty, gentle,
61quiet, young girl has been twice in prison – & the English police
62are looking every where for her now!
63
64 I am reading over my "Stray Thoughts on South Africa", with the hope I
65may be able to publish them in book form.
66
67 For years & years I’ve been hoping to be well enough to read them
68but I never have; now its no trouble. When you cannot breathe your
69brain is dead.
70
71 Yesterday I walked to my favourite promontory of Santa Croce. A man
72was flying ^flying^ an aeroplane from the shore below me he was doing it
73to be photographed for a bios-cope. His aeroplane had blue wings & he
74had a red coat, & as he flew over the bright blue sea & the above the
75roofs of the village, it looked just like a beautiful blue & red
76dragon-fly. As he came back he passed within a few feet of where I
77stood high up on the hill side, we were so near I could have spoken to
78him. I did wish I was in with him.
79
80 Good bye dear old man. Love to Fan & Bill & the daughter. Tell them to
81write me letters with some news.
82
83 Thy small sister
84 Ol
85
86
87
Notation
The 'Stray thoughts' Schreiner mentions are the essays originally published pseudonymously from 1891 on as by 'A Returned South African', intended for publication in book form as 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa'. However, although prepared for publication, a dispute with a US publisher and the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some related essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa.