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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/14
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date31 August 1909
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToFrederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. A typescript only of this letter is available. The transcription here follows this typescript and includes any uncertain dates, ellipses, mistakes and so on.
1 de Aar
2 August 3lst, 1909
4 I hope you & your beloved wife did not mind what I said about your
5printing that bit of my letter. Re-reading what I wrote I see that
6possibly you thought that that was what I wanted to say about the
7Suffragettes. What I meant was I really wanted to write an article in
8one of the magazines on them, showing how much more that attitude
9meant to us as women than the main gaining of the franchise. You can
10have no idea (you would have to know South African women to understand!)
11 the kind of letters I got about that little notice; some demanding I
12should retract my words about "South Africans" which of course being
13the absolute truth to my mind I could as soon lie as do. Others
14writing pathetically upbraiding me with having deserted the cause of
15women’s freedom which I had first led them to care for - all this
16simply because I said, which is quite true, that that when the
17franchise is given to women here it will be given, not because the
18women demand it, but because some political party sees it to be their
19gain. Some accuse me of appealing to England against (?) South Africa
20in the notice. What they mean is I suppose that I imply English women
21are in advance of South Africans; that I rejoice so in it.
23 Goodbye, Greetings to all our women, above all to your wife.
The formal character of Schreiner’s epistolary exchanges about franchise matters with Pethick-Lawrence, and her concern about the misuse of one of her letters, is indicated by extracts from two typescripted letters from the Pethick-Lawrences to Schreiner which are interfiled in the archival sequence. On 9 June 1910, the Pethick-Lawrences wrote that:

'We are very hopeful about the Woman Suffrage issue in this country as to immediate success. The matter is being influentially taken up at the present time in the House of Commons, and it is quite likely Asquith will agree to grant facilities this session. Even if he does not do so the support which we have received will take us a long way, and another short dose of militance will probably have the desired effect. Everyone but a few antediluvians are converted to the principle; and Bill which the Parliamentarians have produced seems to satisfy everyone who is in favour.'

Then Fred Pethick-Lawrence on 1 July 1910 wrote to Schreiner that:

'I have been meaning each mail to write you a letter with my own hand, but we are absolutely deluged with work at the present time… so I hope you will excuse me writing to you in type.

I am sending you at the same time two little books that we have published. One is my own "Women’s Fight for the Vote", and the other by Evelyn Sharp, "Rebel Women". I hope you will like them both.

Our position here at the present time is very critical. We have a Bill which has passed through the first reading and has definitely been given time by the Government to pass through the second reading, but it is still uncertain whether time will be found for it to be passed through all stages into Law. Accordingly we are working our utmost, and agitating for this to be done…

I hope that things will take a brighter turn in the Cape Colony, and that you will soon feel more like yourself.'

Both letters are phrased as ‘public ones’, unlike Schreiner’s. The books referred to are: Frederick Pethick-Lawrence (1910) Women’s Fight for the Vote Woman’s Press: London; Evelyn Sharp (1910) Rebel Women London: A.C. Fifield.