"On women, marriage, prostitution" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceMilner Papers, dep. 209, ff. 278-280
ArchiveSpecial Collections, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date30 May 1899
Address FromJohannesburg, Transvaal
Address To
Who ToAlfred Milner
Other VersionsRive 1987: 354
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, and the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford, for permission to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of their Special Collections.
1Box 406
2Johannesburg
3May 30th 1899
4
5Dear Sir Alfred Milner,
6
7I have much wished to see you or to write to you. I have tried to
8write many times during the last three days, but I am not able, my
9health prevents it. May I beg of you, please to read my article, & ill
10expressed as it is, to consider whether no truth lies in it.
11
12I do not ask you to forgive my writing to you because there are times
13when a man has a right to do almost anything.
14
15Yours sincerely,
16Olive Schreiner
17
18I have much wished to see you apart from all political considerations.
19Many of my friends in England are those who know and value^d^ you: &
20life in Africa is a little lonely to those who have spent their
21forming years in England.
22
23Can you understand my position - it is that of many others? We are
24like a man born in a log cabin, who afterwards goes to live in a
25palace, & all his affections & interest centre in the palace. But one
26day he finds the the palace is beginning to oppress the cabin, & then
27he says, “I belong to the cabin.” – but he loves the palace still.
28
Notation
The article which Schreiner ‘begs’ Milner to read is likely to be the newspaper article that became An English South African’s View of the Situation. This was originally published in the South African News over three successive days; see 'Words in Season. An English South African's View of the Situation' South African News 1 June 1899 (p.8), 2 June 1899 (p.8) and 3 June 1899 (also p.8). It was also reprinted in a number of other newspapers. It then was published as a pamphlet, then as a book. A second edition of the book was ready but withdrawn from publication by Schreiner when the South African War started in October 1899, so as not to profit from this. Rive’s (1987) version of this letter is incorrect in minor ways.