"Women & marriage, Boer guns saved South Africa, Jameson Raid, Rhodes is over" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/510
Epistolary Type
Letter DateSeptember 1912
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 319-20
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given.
1To Havelock Ellis.
2De Aar, Sept.
4Dear Havelock boy, you are unjust to me about sitting on a hill and
5seeing the worms crawling below. So far from thinking I am the only
6person who understands the woman question, whenever our Society has
7asked me to make a speech or write them on paper I say it would be
8pure waste of time when there are no end of splendid pamphlets and
9books on the subject; why can't they read them instead of getting
10stupid people to talk? In one case I sent them Chumley's pamphlets and
11said all I wanted to say was expressed there better than I could
12express it. It is just because there is such an amount of splendid
13writing on the woman question that it is so unnecessary for fools to
14read other people's books, pick other people's brains, and then vomit
15it forth mixed up for the sake of writing a book. Not only men like
16Zangwill and Nevinson and many others write what I profoundly admire,
17but women even more so. Edith Wharton's House of Mirth is one of the
18most wonderful expositions of the degradation and evils of woman's
19present position in modern civilisation that any pen could produce.
20Women like Elizabeth Robins, Evelyn Sharp and many others are
21wonderful. Old Mrs. Despard wrote two articles many years ago called,
22"Why I became a Suffragette" which go to one's heart. I have heard a
23not at all clever or highly educated woman make a little speech at a
24woman's meeting that I'll never forget, it was so true, so sincere, so
25simple, so at the point. We have, too, women of the Miss - and Mrs. –
26type, women who will gush into speech and writing, churn up other
27people's ideas and vomit them out. We have two women who will insist
28on speaking at every meeting - God himself can't stop them.