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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/no-number6
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date23 April 1892
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 207; Draznin 1992: 474
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.
2April 23 / 92
4A funny idea has struck me about the enclosed cuttings, that perhaps I
5am meant!!! So many lies have been told about me already that now I
6wonder at nothing, & I think feel pained at nothing, not even at being
7told that I was ^am^ a Roman Catholic. What makes it likely that I am
8meant is that it is exactly the opposite of the truth, that I was
9^always^ trying to cheer up Amy Levy (if it be intended for her,) &
10professing that I found life so delightful & worth living I’ve often
11felt since that if I’d been more sympathetic to her melancholy mood,
12I might have done more for her. In her last note to me she said,
13“You care for science & art & helping your fellow men, therefore
14life is worth living to ^you, to^ me it is worth nothing,” & the last
15thing I sent her was Ed Carpenters “Do Not Hurry, have faith.”
16which she sent back to me the night before her death with the words,
17“It might have helped me once it is too late now, philosophy cannot
18help me.” unreadable It’s very funny how exactly the opposite of
19the truth as the stories in papers, a sort of inversion!! The It’s
20very funny. I should have
22^minded once but I think I am getting hardened now!!^
The cutting referred to is no longer attached, but was from the Pall Mall Gazette. Although expressed in terms of 'lady novelists', it is clearly referring to Schreiner's friend the poet Amy Levy having killed herself in 1889 and it implies there had been some kind of 'pact' between them which Schreiner failed to follow through on. See Pall Mall Gazette 1 April 1892, p.2. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreinerss (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.