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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner-Extra SMD 30/33/b
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateFebruary 1890
Address FromMount Vernon, Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToErilda Cawood nee Buckley
Other VersionsRive 1987: 166 fn5
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The date and the name of the addressee have been written on this letter in Cronwright-Schreiner's hand.
1 Mount Vernon
2 Cape Town
4 Darling,
6 You must not wait for my visit. All I can say is that if at all
before I leave South Africa I shall come to see you. I am
8leaving for Matjesfontein next month. I shall stay there for some
9time writing. My great plan in coming to this country is to go up to
10Matabele & Mashona Land, &, it may be possible visiting the Zyambesi
11falls. But that will not be till my books are done, perhaps next
12August. I shall be able to start. I shall visit Johannesburg before I
13go, & shall I hope see Ossey there.
15 I am slowly working out my plan, getting letters of introduction to
16people up there &c. Will Cron Wright be up in Matabele Land then.
18 This is just one word to tell you not to wait for me.
20 Your unforgetting little friend
21 Olive
23 Cecil Rhodes must be a splendid man, the one man of genius we have in
24this Colony
All of this letter has been crossed through in blue pencil by Cronwright-Schreiner. Rive (1987) refers to the letter in a footnote only, quoting one sentence from it. Some months after it was written, Cron Cronwright wrote to Olive Schreiner (SMD30 33 (c)); she sent his letter, with her inserted comments, to Erilda Cawood, as below:

^I think this man has had a struggle to keep from being commonplace & vapid - but he has succeeded - is he a journalist?^

^Don't lose my previous letter. I found it today when I most needed help.^

Krantz Plaats
29th Aug '90

Dear Miss Schreiner

I hoped to have had the pleasure of meeting you at Ganna Hock on the 27th, as Mrs Cawood told me she had asked you to pay her a visit. I should have liked personally to have thanked you for the honour you have done the Colony by writing 'The Story of an African Farm', & to have expressed my appreciation of the intellect which has produced such a work - a work which, as far as my know-ledge goes, displays the greatest talent of anything which S. Africa has yet given to the world of literature - our most valuable treasure.

It has only been my good fortune lately to read the book, but it strikes a chord in my heart that very few can. Perhaps it is because, before I read it, I had struggled towards the light, and in my effort to get at the truth, had thrown off the superstition of religion, and, as you know, to one brought up as most of us are, & really believing, this is not done lightly, or without, at first, much pain - I can hardly say without much effort, for, to my mind, certain premises lead inevitably to certain conclusions, even when they run counter to my wishes. The effort is in overcoming early prepossessions. But it is unnecessary for me to explain myself to you. I am like Waldo listening to the sweet voice of the stranger.

It is not for me here to criticise the book, but it is a book which, like Warren Hasting's character, will bear many blemishes. Now, I only wish to express my admiration for the boldness displayed in dealing with such subjects, & the ability & charm with which they are handled. Many a less exact thinker, & less courageous mind has, no doubt been greatly helped. by the work; and it is a great treat to all who can appreciate the divine gift of original thought, & the power of expressing ennobling sentiments with 'the pen of a ready writer'.

May I ask you what else you have written, & where it is to be found; also what magazines you write to or intend writing to?

I need not ask you to advise me as to when any book you write may appear, it will be heard of in more remote parts than a corner of the 'parched Karoo'.

I trust I am not troubling you too much, & I hope you will pardon my having addressed you, & at such length. In explanation I can only /say that you have no more appreciative admirer than myself.

If, when writing to Mrs Cawood, you would supply the information asked above, I could get it from her, & would esteem it as a great favour.

I am
Yours respectfully

Miss Olive Schreiner

Schreiner has also written an insertion on the attached envelope, as follows:


^Cron's first^

SC Cronwright-Schreiner
Box 2 Johannesburg

^letter to me^