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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box7/Fold4/Mar-Dec1920/46
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date8 December 1920
Address FromOak Hall, Wynburg, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToBetty Molteno
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. Schreiner was resident at Oak Hall, Wynburg, from late October 1920 to her death on 11 December 1920.
1Dec 8th 1920
2
3My darling Betty
4
5Mrs Murray has just been to see me, looking so beautiful & sweet. But
6so tired.
7
8Margaret Lenox & May & Freddie are down at Miller’s Point. Mrs
9Molteno
at your brother Franks for ten days.
10
11I am so glad they are having such lovely weather, the best we have had
12since I came, hot but not nearly so oppressive as it has been. Only in
13my close little room its like a furnice. But my landlady says if ever
14she has an cooler airier room she’ll let me have it. She’s a kind
15woman. Mrs Murray seems to think you will come out when the house is
16built at Elgin, & you could have a nice room of your very own. You
17ought I think to sell that little cottage now dear, now you might get
18a good price for it: later it will go to bits, its so badly built.
19
20You will find much in the political world to absorb you here. They
21have a little Peace society you would like to help. The poor natives
22will need all the help we can give them which ever side comes in at
23the election. I will leave this letter open in case I have any news
24later to give you of your folk. I have not seen any of my folk for a
25long time. You see I can’t walk at all & there’s
26
27^no way of getting to Fan & Ursie without walking.^
28
29Olive
30
Notation
Cronwright-Schreiner recognised the close friendship between Betty Molteno and Schreiner but when she attempted to visit him soon after Schreiner’s death he fended her off because she had arrived ‘without an appointment’. He had immediately gathered papers and letters and commenced writing a biography:

‘50 Cambridge Terrace, W. 2.
31.12.20

Dear Miss Molteno,

I hope you did not misunderstand my actions yesterday evening. I was deeply engrossed in work & could see nobody. I did not stop writing till midnight. There are several things I must finish before Havelock Ellis comes (or they’ll never be finished), after which I shall, with him, be occupied closely with Olive’s matters till I sail. I have thus decided, when I am in town (which is nearly all the time) to stick to my work, to the exclusion of all else as far as possible, every morning & every evening, & during those times I can see no one at all (except under special, accidental & unforeseen circumstances; and then only briefly.) I propose to take the afternoons off as a matter of heath & to employ them partly in walking (which I simply cannot do without.) I generally start out just before lunch (if I have it “out”) or just after lunch (if I have it here). unreadable I do not generally get back till late in the afternoon; ^so^ it is necessary that any one who needs to see me in the afternoon should not come without having made an appointment previously. As I have said I have to do this, in consequence of the enforced acceleration of my plans. (I am sorry for my self!)

I had two letters & a post card from Olive yesterday, & some papers. The first letter was posted ^at Wynburg^ on the 7th; the second letter, unreadable a long one, was written on the 9th & posted ^at Cape Town^ on the 10th; the postcard, undated, was posted at Cape Town on the 10th, but, from its contents, was, I think, written on the 10th. As you will remember, she died on the 10th. The letters show no indication of any departure from the (for her) good health she had had w in S. Africa. She complains of the great heat, but it is clear there was nothing specially wrong. Her Death must have been very sudden, which is what she would have wished. I cannot get any further details till next mail. But, alas, there’ll be no more post from her.

With kind regards,
Yours very sincerely,
S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner’