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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner to Emily Hobhouse HTC/1
ArchiveHobhouse Trust, Canada
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date29 May 1908
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToEmily Hobhouse
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to Jennifer Hobhouse Balme and the Hobhouse Trust for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter to Emily Hobhouse, which is part of the Trust collection.
1 Letter to be read at meeting
2
3 de Aar
4 May 29th 1908
5
6 Dear Miss Hobhouse
7
8 I regret I cannot be with you on the second.
9
10 The time is a very important one; because is it greatly to be desired,
11that (as in Australia) with the federation of the different South
12African states, should go the re cognition of woman’s citizenship, &
13her duty towards the state nation.
14
15 //The male members of our society, who have, in the past, alone, been
16intrusted with the duty of shaping laws & public insti-tutions, have
17in South Africa often shown a sanity & breadth of insight, often not
18always shown by those of other societies.
19
20 //In the non-sexual cases of our University regulations we have the
21noblest example of this. This constitution recognizes that the
22benefits of the highest intellectual culture are as curiously denied
23on the score of sex as of race: & that social health demands that
24their enjoyment ^use^ should depend, entirely on the desire & ability of
25the individual ^citizen^ to make use of them.
26
27 //In the splendid use which many of our younger women are now making
28of those advantages, we have as a society the reward of the breadth &
29foresight shown by certain of our men ^in the past^; & we have no not
30need to fear that in the future South Africa’s men will be far found
31falling behind those of other nations in the path of progressive &
32enlightened social development.
33
34 //I have never regarded the desire (now as wide spread as civilization
35itself) that woman should take her share in the duties & labours of
36the nation life, as in any sense a movement of the sexes against each
37other; but, rather, as a as a great integrative movement, of the sexes
38towards each other.
39
40 How deeply this movement ^is the expression^ of a great social need,
41felt equally by man & woman, unreadable is shown in our country, by
42that large body of its most intelligent & advanced men who, not only
43stand shoulder to shoulder with woman in her struggle for this reform,
44but who have indeed often been leaders.
45
46 There ?shal have been with-in the last weeks councils held by certain
47of our men, seeking to forward what ^they hope^ will ultimately be, a
48federation of our different states
49
50 //We here today are are met ^?in an endeavour to^ forward an even deeper
51& wider ^measure of^ reform – the Federation of the Sexes.
52
53 I believe they will ultimately succeed – I know, we shall.
54
55 Yours ever
56 Olive Schreiner
57
58
Notation
Emily Hobhouse has written on to this letter, 'Sent to me to be read at the meeting in favour of Women's Suffrage in Cape Town - I duly read it. E.H.' On 2 June 1908, a major meeting in support of women's enfranchisement was held in the Metropolitan Hall, Cape Town, organised by the Women's Enfranchisement League with Caroline Murray as its President. Hobhouse addressed the meeting in her own right; she also read out the text of Schreiner's letter. See South African News 3 June 1908 (p.5).