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Letter ReferenceHRC/UNCAT/OS-146
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 October 1906
Address FromHotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 256; Draznin 1992: 479-80
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 written is on printed headed hotel notepaper with a picture of the front of the hotel.
1Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein,
2Oct 20th 1906
4My dear Havelock
6I’ve got the photograph. I agree with Edith its quite terrible! The
7only thing as bad I’ve ever see was a picture painted of Cron by a
8younglady ^in England^ who called herself an artist! They Of course in a
9way neither of them are absolutely unlike though they are nightmares.
10They are night-mares just because in both cases something that is in
11you both has has been taken out & painted alone & exagerated till its
12awful. There is in you a certain cold, bloodless, examining element;
13where Edith or I would say of a thing how beautiful, or how hideous,
14or how hateful or how loveable, you would say “How interesting.”
15There is besides in your nature an infinity of tenderness of love of
16truth, even of passion & ideality, that your face does always show. I
17have never in my long life seen any face so transfused with beautiful
18& ennobling & intense emotions, as I have seen yours, till it was
19almost angelic Now why couldn’t the man have painted something of
20this instead of that cold neckless bloodless, even mouth-less man (&
21God knows you’ve got mouth! enough anyhow) If you really looked like
22that no one would ever have loved you since you came into the world.
23It looks like old Mr Casabon in Middlemarch. I tore it up. I hope
24Edith tore up hers. I don’t want after you are dead for people to
25get hold of such a thing.
27I’ve read the book you sent. I’ve been so glad of it because my
28heart compells me to lie quite still on my bed or on the bench on the
29balcony all day, & I’ve nothing to read; so it was a perfect God’s
30send. It was the other book by the same man I read in Cape Town. It's
31very German certainly. It reminds me of the way my father would ramble
32on when he was talking of his schooldays & the friends he knew in his
33youth, what this one had said & felt, & that
35^I’ve been having continual attacks of angina & faintness again. But
36I’m better today. Address to Hanover still. I shall have to go back
37& live alone there on the tenth of November. I can’t stay on here
38because its too expensive, & I can’t live in De Aar till we’ve got
39a little house because the hotel there is so hot I do nothing but
40faint. I wonder if you would know me if you saw me now.^
The book Ellis sent to Schreiner cannot be established. Mr Casabon is a character in George Eliot's (1874) Middlemarch (Edinburgh: Blackwood). 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.