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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/5a-viii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 13 December 1914
Address FromKensington Palace Mansions, De Vere Gardens, Kensington, London
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 344-5; Draznin 1992: 488-9
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 Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) The Letters.... The letter is written on printed headed notepaper.
1Kensington Palace Mansions & Hotel,
2De Vere Gardens, W.
3
4Sunday
5
6Dear Havelock
7
8It was nice to get a word from you Oh, how I wish you lived near that
9we could often see each other. I hope your cold is better. Come any
10afternoon after 4. Tuesday will be good. If I’m well enough we can go
11& have tea in alway the little shop close by. My kidney is getting
12worse & worse. The anguish is persistant. I am trying an electric
13treatment which seemed to help me wonderfully the first day, I took it,
14 but not since so much. I go every day at 2 to & get back before 4
15
16My dear friend Adela Smith has just been found to have consumption in
17the left lung. For nearly 20 years she has written to me nearly every
18every week, & since I have been in London in all this terrible
19loneliness she has been the one person who has stood by me & helped me.
20 No one is allowed to see her just now she is resting. I have never
21known such loneliness as during the last months. If one can work or
22think one is never lonely; but I can’t any more. I have lain here for
23three weeks now since I last went to see you, & have seen one one
24except once Isabella Ford once my brother for a few moments & once
25dear Dolly Radford. She is coming on Monday afternoon again. But its
26not the loneliness of never seeing or speaking to anyone that matters.
27Its the sense of being entirely cut off from ones fellows. It isn’t
28only because my name’s German though that may make the people in the
29hotel shrink from me – but its all the people who know me & who know I
30contemn the war. & all war. One day things will change, but oh I hope
31I shall not be here to see it. I don’t feel I can have very long to go
32on now.
33
34When the pay day comes in three or four years time, then the English
35people will begin to howl, now work is plentiful & money, & women can
36feel themselves heros when the knitt second rate socks. Its just the
37same in Africa: for the time being the war fever is carrying
38everything before it especially among women.
39
40This afternoon I felt I couldn’t stay alone in this room any more, I’d
41go mad, I have only once before left such an agony of oppression, so
42in the pouring rain I went on the top of a buss to Barnes & back. I
43can’t go back to Africa worse than broken like this, & I can’t get to
44Italy. Oh Havelock I do hope so this is my last year. I don’t know why
45I am writing so to you, life is sad enough for you. You know I could
46bear all in my personal life; if it wasn’t for this terrible
47exhibition of what humanity is. It isn’t ever the fighting & the
48hating, its the lying. There is no truth on earth. I have always loved
49humanity & believed in it: now a great cry comes into my heart, why
50doesn’t God take up a sponge & mop us all up & squeeze us into space.
51
52The only thing that gives me any joy is the sparrows & pigeons that
53come to feed on a roof below mine every day. It’s not only that my
54heart quivers with love when I see them, the precious things – but
55some person must be kind enough to throw crumbs out to them – though
56they are not of his nation. Nationality isn’t everything!
57
58Good bye dear. Come & see me some time soon Olive
59
Notation
Draznin’s (1992) version of the letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.