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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3a-xi
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday 19 November 1884
Address From144 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 45; Rive 1987: 53-4; Draznin 1992: 221-3
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. Schreiner was resident in St Leonards at different addresses from mid October 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Wednesday Eve
3This afternoon my sister-in-law was here.
5Thank I got your letter just after she was gone. Thank you. Some how
6that bit of your hair seemed to be helping me.
8I cannot explain to you how I feel because I do not understand myself
9Do you know that all my life since I came to England is a mystery to
10me. In all my life before (except at rare times with regard to my love
11for Theo & Ettie) my keen analytical intellect stood by watching &
12know^ing^ what went on; since I have been in England I have never
13thought of myself. I have only lived & felt. I think it has been
14because I dared not analyze. It is only in the last three months that
15I have begun to understand how it was that things were as they were.
16– a little.
18I love you so, & I yet when I kiss you or come near to you, I have a
19feeling that I am cruel & not quite true to you & such agony – why I
20don’t I can’t understand it. What I can’t understand is that
21fearful agony I had after I said good bye to you in London the first
22time. I never feel quite like that now. I don’t know, Henry. I
23don’t know!
25I can’t go out to Elijah. I am sorry: it is tonight. I can’t go to
26Hastings because rooms facing the sea are too expensive
28I have worked to-day I can breathe without so much pain. My head says
29it is time to go to bed. I have my bath now at night instead of in the
30morning. It is so soothing I feel as if you were part of my body. Then
31why do I feel as if to kiss you were wrong?
33They sent me
34Webster, (1
35Beaumont (1
36Mehalah (1
38on C.B. 1
39(that devil of a Swinburne) & English Litera.e Far from th. 1 & a vol
40of Balzac not Cousin Pons. I’m not going to try & read it, it’s
41too hard.
43Good night. I seem to grow nearer & nearer to you – & one I day
44you’ll melt in to thin air & pass through my hands. No Henry you
45never will
49I never show your real letters to anyone. I showed ^sent^ my brother one
50of yours about Hinton &c. He wrote back such a sweet letter, asking if
51I thought you would quite like it for me to show him any of your
52letters. It’s such a grand old nature with
54^something of my father’s childish simplicity. Fancy, I know you
55would love him too.^
Balzac's Cousin Pons was first translated by Schreiner's friend Philip Kent; see Honore de Balzac (1894) Cousin Pons (trans. Philip Kent) London: F. Warne & Co. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.