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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold2/1913/47
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateNovember 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern 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 was resident in De Aar from November 1907 until she left South Africa for Britain and Europe in December 1913, with some fairly lengthy visits elsewhere over this time.
1 Private
3 Dear Laddie
5 I am sorry about the hurried note I wrote you the other day, as it is
6quite unlikely you will meet Miss Hobhouse or say anything to
7encourage her in the idea she has of fixing herself on me when I am in
10 Shes a most good woman always trying to do right & good – but like
11poor Mrs Solly she’s quite an impossible person to live with. She
12quarrelled with all the women who had anything to do with in her work
13in South Africa Constance Cloetie (Mrs Sauer’s sister & every one
14else.) She must rule & dominate absolutely. She expects to be waited
15on hand & foot & her word is law! She was six weeks visiting Mrs CC de
at ?Avingen & both she & her daughters declare she shall
17never put her foot in their house again: she ruled them as if they
18were her servants! I wrote in some distress because I ^’d just^ got a
19letter from her saying she had taken a room for me & herself in the
20same house in Florence (I’d never authorized her to take a room for
21me & have in fact made all my arrangements!!) & she had also heard
22from Anna Purcell I suppose that the Pethwick Lawrences were taking me
23to Italy, & she wrote to say she had asked was going to ask Pethwick
to take her too. Now the Pethwick Lawrences cannot bear her,
25she she has always been a strong & active anti-militant & it would not
26work at all. If I had to have her with me in Europe I should simply
27take the first steamer & come back.
29 The other day she send me a long speech of 16 closely written pages
30– told me, not as a favour at all, to revise, alter & if necessary
31re-write the whole! I worked at it for two days sitting up till 3
32o’clock at night & then broke down & could do no more – & sent it
33back to her. I think you will understand my funny & somehow distressed
34little note.
36 I could tell you a funny little story of her driving of in state in
37our private carriage with two spanking greys & leaving me & Mrs Van
to plod through a mile & a quarter for Beaufort West sand on a
39burning hot day! She doesn’t do these things intentionally; she is
40quite unconscious that she shouldn’t do them – like Mrs Solly.
42 She wrote me from England that she was travelling with a first class
43maid & if I cared to go with her by paying a small sum I could get her
44maid to wait on me too. But it turns out she has no maid! She had Mrs
maid coming out, & the Murrays have given up their good
46English maid to wait on her while she is in Africa! I shall pay a
47couple of pounds extra to the stewardess & the bedroom steward & they
48will help me.
50 I’m packing my clothes & things now for fear I should be too ill at
51the end. I’ll come down about 20th unless I get too ill before &
52have to leave.
54 Don’t say you do little for me, dear. You do so much for me, & are
55so much to me. I shall never, never forget your taking me out to
56Muizenburg & seeing me there with all my goods. You have to be as
57helpless as I am to know how grateful you are for help.
59 Your stupid little sister
60 Ol
The speech which Schreiner revised is the one Emily Hobhouse was to have given at the commemoration of the Vrouemonument in Bloemfontein in December 1913. Hobhouse's ill-health prevented her attendance, but it was published and distributed for the occasion and also read out by the Free State politician Charles Fichardt.