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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold1/1884/1
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date3 June 1884
Address From32 Fitzroy Street, Camden, London
Address ToChambers, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 41-2
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. This letter was sent in a mourning envelope, which provides the address the letter was sent to.
1 32 Fitzroy St
2 June 3rd 1884
4 Dear old Will,
6 Thank you for your letter. I am much aggrieved. I hear that at some
7not absolutely distant period a small Schreiner is expected to make
8its appearance on the earth, & I, of all people on the earth most
9concerned have not been duly informed! I shall not get over this.
10Really I am so very glad. I have got this future "to be" on my brain
11in quite an oppressive manner today, & must relieve my feelings by
12writing. You don’t know what kind of a feeling I shall have for your
13& Fanny’s children if ever you have any. Write or tell Fan to write
14to me.
16 I am expecting Dr Aveling & Miss Marx to lunch with me, the Dr to read
17me some of his new poems which are shortly to be published. Here they
20 Thursday
22 Got an order for the Botanic Gardens this morning & went there with Mr
. Got caught in the rain. Had to stand under a tree in Regent’s
24Park for half an hour, & then had to come home through it after all &
25get soaking wet. Now it is pouring outside & looks so dreary that I
26have drawn down the curtains & lit the gas.
28 Sunday. This letter doesn’t get on. One thing is I haven’t
29anything very interesting to tell. I went to the Camden Church this
30morning with a Miss Harkness, a girl I like much & who is making a
31path for herself in the world. I was disappointed with the music which
32is not as good as at the "Oratory" at South Kensington. After the
33service I went in to York House (the house where the Princess Sophia
34used to live) The Potters live there now. They are very nice, great
35friends of Herbert Spencer's, with whom I am to lunch there next
36Sunday. Herbert Even all their great riches don’t seem to have
37spoiled them, which is an uncommon thing. On my way back I turned in
38at Dr Aveling & had an hour’s chat with him & Miss Marx. Now I have
39come back to my rooms somewhat tired as I was up till nearly morning
40last night writing. I am afraid my letters are very stupid but I have
41nothing but little odds & ends of news to give, & after all I would
42like it if you gave me the little odds & ends of news.
44 I must try & get some work done tonight for tomorrow I go to the
45National Gallery with Dr ^Mr^ Ellis & in the evening to the Princesses
46to see ?Clandean with Dr Aveling & Miss Marx. I have just been writing
47a description of Cape Town, with D I wonder what you would think of it.
49 I’m so glad the hard times aren’t quite pressing you down. Please
50write me small news of your-self as I write of myself. Do you often
51hear from your old chums here? I used to hear so much of them that now
52I often think of them & wonder what has become of them.
54 I have quite pulled myself together now - I never cry. I don’t think
55any thing could make me.
57 Did Alice know you when you were at Fraserburg. I can’t at all lose
58the thought of all she suffered before she went. I am very anxious to
59hear how poor old Robert is. I hope it will be arranged for Ettie to
60keep the children, it will be well for m her as well as for them.
61There is something sorrowful to me in the thought of a woman’s
62passing through life without children, either her own or like her own.
63I think there is always something bad in an instinct crushed out. She
64will be so tender & loving to them, it is always a comfort to me to
65think that perhaps she will have the four.
67 Give my love to the dear little wife. Tell her this letter is for her
68too. I’m so glad you are so happy my old boy.
70 Your little sister
71 Olive
Edward Aveling published many books, but none of poetry in this period, so these poems probably appeared in journals and newspapers. Margaret Harkness published both under her own name and pseudonymously as John Law and in 1883 her book on Assyrian history had just appeared. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.