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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/1a-xxxiii-a
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date7 July 1884
Address FromHolly Cottage, Mount Pleasant, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Bedfordshire
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsRive 1987: 44-5; Draznin 1992: 81
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 has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. Schreiner was resident in Apsley Guide in late June and early July 1884. The beginning and end of the letter are missing. Draznin (1992) places it as part of Schreiner's letter to Ellis of 6 July 1884, while we follow the archival order because paper and ink variations support this.
1 [top of page torn away] One reason why I am so bad here
2is that I get so little food & such bad food. I am almost starved here.
3 Have you ever found how one works in proportion as one eats? I don’t
4mean quantity. But if the highest creative work is to be done there
6 [top of page torn away] When I am striving to kill & crush out all that
7side of my nature as I have been for the last two years & a half, very
8nearly three years now, what do I produce? It was not that I
9deliberately tried to crush it, but it was such agony to me that it
10had to die. A man thinks when he touches a woman it is only her body
11he is touching, it is really her soul, her brain, her creative power.
13I am descended from the “Olivers” too. My great grandmother or my
14grandmother (I am not quite sure which, I will ask) was a Miss Oliver.
15That is how I came to be Olive. I have an Uncle called Oliver after
16her, & I am called after him, or rather after a brother who was called
17after him. On a little old family silver jug I have here, are the
18initials C.F.O. It’s very funny. I have an old Uncle called Oliver
19Lyndall still living in the North & I will write & ask him. Perhaps it
20is his mother my grandfather’s first wife who was an Oliver. My
21grandfather was a Presbyterian parson, old Dr. Campbell’s predecessor.
22^He must have been a wonderful old man.^ I wonder what more we are going
23be be alike in.
25I think you must be tired of hearing about my not being strong. I
26won’t say anything more till I am. Thank you for telling me about the
27Doctors. I want so much [page/s missing]
Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is different in some respects from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect.