"My arms stretching out to Alice Greene; if I could put my love into words, must feel it coming to you across the miles" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold1/1891/9
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateMay 1891
Address FromCape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
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. The month and year have been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner spent part of May 1891 in Cape Town.
1 Dear Laddie
3 I’ve been feeling very weak & unfit since Saturday, & am leaving
4tonight for Matjesfontein. I’m sorry to see thee looking so tired. I
5wish you could have a good long rest soon.
7 Dear Laddie I know you won’t mention me to any one unless I am spoken
8of: but, in case ?anyone ?offers old unreadable a any one were to
9mention my name & & Rhodes in your presence or to you, you might say
10that I have not spoken to him for 10 months, & that we are not in any
11way friends beyond that I admire his genius. He came up very cordially
12to speak to me at Government House that night, but I did not answer
13him, & walked away with Sir John Williams. I could of course never
14have anything to do with him again after it had been said I wished to
15make him marry my ^me^. One’s self-respect demands that; & all beauty is
16gone from our relation for me. It is strange how a certain class of
17natures can never understand that the strongest & deepest feeling
18which one human being can have for another may not lead them to a wish
19to take their freedom from them in marriage or to share their property.
21 I’m so tired I can’t write more now dear old Laddie. I send you a
22little story I wrote as a wedding present for Ellis. I have to revise
23it still. I’ve not read it over. Do you think it would be worth
26 Your little sis
27 Olive
29 ^My land lady & Mrs Innes & all my friends have been so kind to me the
30last days since I’ve been ill, but I feel I shall pull together better
31at Matjesfontein than I could here in spite of the cold there. I want
32to finish my books.^
The 'little story' for the wedding of Havelock Ellis and Edith Lees has not been traced; the books Schreiner wanted to finish are 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa' and From Man to Man. Schreiner’s ‘A Returned South African’ essays were originally published in a range of magazines; she intended to rework them in book form, as Stray Thoughts on South Africa. A dispute with a publisher and then the outbreak of the South African War (1899-1902) prevented this, and they were in the event with some additional essays published posthumously as Thoughts on South Africa.