"About Rebecca Schreiner, OS's childhood, her writing" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceAutograph Letters Collection: Alys Pearsall Smith ALC/7/3/2
ArchiveNational Women's Library, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 2 July 1888
Address FromRoseneath, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Address To
Who ToAlys Pearsall Smith m. Russell (1894)
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the National Women's Library, London, for allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Autograph Collections. The date has been written on the letter in an unknown hand.
1 Roseneath
2 Harpenden
3 Herts
4 Sunday
5
6 Dear Miss Smith
7
8 Thankyou very much all three for having come. I was quite lonely when
9you went away. Please remember my Nineteenth Century. I know you will
10forgive me for having been so stupid. I had been up all the night
11before till half past four writing & didn't sleep much then. I was
12finishing some work & it is always sad to finish anything, you feel as
13if you were parting with your people forever - so you are. I've been
14writing about little children & they're so much nicer to write about
15than grown up people.
16
17 I wonder if you would mind my saying something. You have so much power,
18 & gifts of so many kinds, I wonder if you have any definite plan of
19life! Men have always some object for which they live, if it be
20nothing higher than business or horse-racing. therefore their lives
21are more complete & great. It is not that we lack the power, but that
22we do not consider our lives as a whole & try to find the work we are
23best fitted for, & do it. I wonder whether a nature like yours is
24quite con-scious of its own powers, & not too diffident of it-self?
25Your great power of sympathy, of intuitively realizing what people are
26feeling & of entering into their life is in itself a great gift. It is
27for want of this that so many who try to spend their lives in working
28for others fail. They can't realize what others who differ from
29themselves in education & circumstances feel, & so they can't really
30get to them or help them. I hope you are not going to give up your
31studies yet. You will forgive my saying this, I would like your life
32to be so perfect. So many women are drifting through life, instead of
33swimming, knowing in which direction they are going.
34
35 I have made up my mind not to go to Monmouth. I want to stay & finish
36my work.
37
38 Yours sincerely
39 Olive Schreiner
40
Notation
The writing that Schreiner was engaged in was most probably editing the manuscript of From Man to Man, which she had started while in Mentone and Alassio in late 1887 and early 1888.