"Getting in Dutch vice president of Women's Enfranchisement League, Mrs MacFadyen, we have to educate women in South Africa slowly" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4a-iiHRC/CAT/OS NFPaa
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 31 January 1887
Address FromHotel Roth, Clarens, Montreux, Switzerland
Address Toc/o Dr Grey, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 109; Rive 1987: 124; Draznin 1992: 425-6
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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 is composed of a number of pages, which are now separated in the HRC collections as the result of pre-archiving happenstance. The letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. The stamp of the Hotel-Pension Roth, Clarens, Montreux, is on the envelope.
1Hotel Roth
2Clarens
3Lake of Geneva
4Sunday Night
5
6My Havelock
7
8You must never write when you feel drawn I’ll do the same.
9
10I can’t help I am happy, as far as my own life goes. When ever I get
11letters from Donkin reproaching me with having ruined his life &c. &c
12I feel a little mad for the time, it seems to me unjust. I’ve never
13deceived him for a moment but I know what the sweet old nature suffers.
14 With regard to Karl my feeling is just one of sharp pain that he
15should have misunder stood me so, both about Mrs Cobb & my feeling. I
16thought he was the one man who would understand me, between whom & me
17there could be love & friendship with out any sex element.
18
19All that my sexual nature had to give I gave years ago, & it is agony
20to me now when men call on me for what my nature has not to give That
21Karl should have misunderstood my love for him cuts me deep. I don’t
22think you I can under stand it. I’ve loved Karl better than anyone
23else in the world ever since I was at Portsea Place but it’s just the
24absence of sex feeling in him that has drawn The ??sh I can’t bear
25sexual relationships any more even shown in a kiss I have tried hard
26to feel sexual to you & Donkin, & you know how it sometimes hurts me.
27
28You don’t know how much I’ve had a kind of Hintonian feeling (not idea!),
29that I ought to sacrifice my self & my feelings in this way.
30
31Loving Karl as I do, I have never once had a feeling that I wished to
32K kiss him. I know you can’t understand this. Now I’ve got away from
33an agonizing pressure, I feel like a thing that got out of a net that
34was just going to kill it. Karl was quite right in being angry with me
35about Mrs Cobb. I didn’t act in a large minded way to her. I ought to
36have been more loving, & showed her where she was wrong.
37
38It shows how utterly little Donkin understands of me that
39
40Try & understand Harry.
41
42I want to see what you write. I wrote an allegory you’ll like. I’m
43going to send it to a mag. I am very weak feel as if all the bones
44were taken out of your body. Your letters have been the one ray of
45external brightness that have come to me here.
46
47Your,
48Olive
49
50I am going to write to you again on your birthday. This isn’t the
51birthday letter
52
53What do you mean by suggestion such a thing as that Pearson ever had a
54sex relation with Mrs Cobb!! Pearson has never loved Mrs Cobb, & I do
55not think her love for him was sexual. It was You don’t know Pearson
56the kind of love he makes women feel for him is like that of Dante for
57Beatrice. You can’t understand Pearson
58
59Your Olive
60
61
Notation
The allegory referred to cannot be identified. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version has been misdated, is referenced to the wrong collection, omits part of the letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) short extract is also incorrect in various ways.