"Small Schreiner expected by Will & Fan, many London friends" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/UNCAT/OS-13
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 5 February 1885
Address From4 Robertson Terrace, Hastings, East Sussex
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 60-1; Draznin 1992: 303-4
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 information written onto it by Ellis. Schreiner was resident at two addresses in Hastings from the end of November 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Thursday eve.
3Too cold to go to church & hear Messiah. I don’t want to take cold
4now I am working.
6Have just got your letter. The part of my life that stands out almost
7more clearly than anything else like an imprinted picture, is one
8morning at Palace Rd. It was the last awful Sunday I spent there. All
9night I thought I was going mad & lay on the floor & walked up & down;
10at dawn about half past four I went to the chemists in that street
11that runs down just at the bottom of Palace Rd. There is a chem shop
12just near the corner. I stood there knocking for half an hour, but no
13one heard. I wanted bromide or something more to make one sleep.
15I can see that scene just as that looked to me, printed like one of
16Hogarths pictures. While I stood there waiting a dirty milkman came
17with his pails, & he stopped at the house opposite & some dirty wicked
18looking women, a woman & a girl in curl papers & finery came to the
19door, & talked low talk with him & laughed low laughs. The chemist
20came down at last in his nightshirt with his trowsers on & gave me the
21medicine. It had been raining in the night & the street was damp, but
22it was a fine morning. Yes how wonderful & beautiful if you had come
23to me then! I have been thinking about you today when ever I have I
24not been working.
26I have translated the preface of that book. What a lovely style. The
27very kind of book I wanted. I wouldn’t miss a word because every
28word stands for an idea. As soon as I have done this do you think I
29will be able to manage Taine?
31What is “Lu’il ferait mieux^better^ de vivre ^of life^?” What is
32ferait? Ferir is to strike. What does it mean?
34I must get to my writing now. I must get my book ready by June & & I
35will if I go on like this. I want very much to see you this evening.
39You know I think it would be nice if every one called you Havelock. It
40seems much more like you than Henry. I would call it you only I know I
41shall shorten it into some pet name before long.
43^Henry Ellis is really no name. There are three Henry Ellis’s in St.
What the preface was that Schreineer had translated cannot be established. Which of Hippolyte Taine's publications Schreiner might have been thinking of cannot be discerned, but Schreiner is likely to have been familiar with his (1870 translated) English Positivism: A Study on J.S. Mill London: Simpkin, Marshall. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.