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Letter ReferenceEmilia Dilke Add. 43908, f.189
ArchiveBritish Library, Department of Manuscripts, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date17 March 1891
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToEmilia Frances Dilke, nee Strong, m1. Pattison, m2. Dilke
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the British Library for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 Matjesfontein
2 March 17 / 91
4 My Dear Lady Dilke
6 I should have written before to thank you for the books which I prize
7so much; but I have been hoping to send with my letter the copy of an
8article on a subject which is of much interest to you & myself. It
9will not now be out till June so I write without it. Please thank your
10husband for the sentence he wrote in your books. I do not only hope, I
11feel certain, that before many years are passed he will have returned
12to that life of public usefulness from which he was so unjustly
13severed. We shall not only see him return to it, but we shall see him
14a leader in it. I can not but believe that the words of women which
15did so much to drag him down ^to the deep sorrow of all lovers of
16woman's freedom^ will yet do much to restore him. Only one section of
17English women has yet made unreadable ^its^ will heard.
19 I was exceedingly glad of the part Mr Rhodes took when in England with
20regard to Parnell; it was entirely right & strong, & will tell much in
21the direction we desire. He is a great man who is leading &
22transforming the dis-cordant parties in South Africa, as it would have
23seemed impossible one man should do; & I believe his influence will
24ultimately be felt much further than South Africa. Strange as the
25opinion may seem when he has done so little to justify it, I believe
26him to be one of the most remarkable men whom this country has
29 I have sometimes wished that you & Sir Charles Dilke would come out to
30South Africa. You would find it at the present moment of the greatest
31interest & I should then have the pleasure for which I have often
32wished in England, of knowing you.
34 Yours sincerely, & with much sympathy & admiration
35 Olive Schreiner
The books that Emilia Dilke sent to Schreiner cannot be established. The article Schreiner refers to concerns the first of her essays originally published pseudonymously as by ‘A Returned South African’, intended for a book to be called ‘Stray Thoughts on South Africa’, with the first essay published in the Fortnightly Review in 1891. Although prepared for book publication, a dispute with a publisher and the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some other essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa. Although Schreiner disliked Charles Dilke’s sexual morals, she thought his sexual conduct irrelevant to his politics, while Charles Dilke made clear his high regard for Schreiner’s The Story of An African Farm in an 18 August 1889 letter to Fisher Unwin, publisher of its later editions (HRC/OliveSchreinerUncatLetters/OS-TFisherUnwin), as follows:

76 Sloane Street
^Thursday 18th ?Au 1889^

My dear Mr. Fisher Unwin,

As we talked of The Story of an African Farm I want to tell you that I have now read it and the effect is profound. On the whole I think it delights ?me than any book I ever had, & I am going to get two copies instantly & bind them preciously & give one to my wife & put the other in my little library of some thirty volumes which lives by my bedside. I hope she will never write another book. This of course needs no reply.

Very truly yrs
Charles W. Dilke