"About Rebecca Schreiner, OS's childhood, her writing" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4b-xxi-b
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date12 December 1911
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 303; Draznin 1992: 483-4
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. In the absence of other information, dating this letter has followed Draznin (1992), who has done so by reference to a version in Cronwright-Schreiner?s (1924) The Letters.... Schreiner was resident in De Aar from November 1907 until she left South Africa for Britain and Europe in December 1913, but with some fairly lengthy visits elsewhere over this time. The start of the letter is missing.
1[page/s missing]
2
3I believe the only remedy for the agony & suffering sex inflicts is
4absolute truthfulness & openness. Not after you are found out but
5before!! Not after you have formed the new sex relation but before. I
6do not believe a man or woman ever enters on a real sex relation with
7a man of woman without knowing they are sexually attracted to one
8another. If it is only a few hours before you would have time to tell
9the person whose sexual life you had forever bound with yours what you
10are feeling.
11
12Of course the comparison of the book is not complete, – it wouldn’t be,
13 even if you & I had voluntarily vowed ^vowed^ never to write any book
14with out the other & sharing the profits because sex relations are so
15enormously more important than any business or other relation could
16ever be. Oh I do wish the part of my book on sex relations was not
17destroyed. I can never write it again.
18
19There is my friend Adela Smith the one who wrote to Edith you say about
20Hinton, who thinks it’s wrong for people even if married to have any
21sex relations with each other except just when they want to make a
22child. She says her husband feels just the same! I would base all my
23sex teaching to children & young people on the beauty & sacredness &
24importants of sex – sex intercourse is the great sacrement of life –
25he that eateth & drinketh unworthily eateth & drinketh damnation to
26himself, but it may be the most beautiful sacrement between two souls
27without any thought of children I feel.
28
29I must go & see about the wash clothes & the dinner. Tell me how much
30of Machievelli is true & how much made up.
31
32Good bye
33Olive
34
Notation
The book referred to by Schreiner is Woman and Labour, while 'my book on sex relations' is the manuscript preceeding it which was destroyed when her house in Johannesburg was destroyed during the South African War. For Machievelli, see Henry Cust (1905) Machiavelli: The Art of War and The Prince London: David Nutt. 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.