"Spending the last days destroying letters & papers, no daughter to leave them to" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/5b-xiv
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 29 June 1916
Address FromLlandrindod Wells, Wales
Address To14 Dover Mansions, Canterbury Road, Brixton, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsDraznin 1992: 510-11
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. Dating this letter has followed an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to.
1Llandrindod Wells
5Dear Havelock.
7I’m glad you had a nice time in the country.
9You I thought you had when I asked you long ago destroyed nearly all
10my letters. Its not what may happen if you die before me, but I may be
11dead & you live on twenty years, & no one knows that no one may get
12hold of them.
14You may destroy them all before you die, but does one always have
15notice before.
17Please don’t think dear that I think you would ever publish any of
18them or let them fall willingly into anyone’s hands, but my letters
19^to any one^ will mean hard cash some day to any one who can publish
20them. Please I have asked all my friends to destroy my letters. The
21only one who was disagreeable about about them was one woman; she said
22she had destroyed them. I destroyed I think every letter of yours also
23I ?cond all the old ones before I left South Africa. One owes it to
24friendship in these degraded day. Especially It seems to me a letter
25ought to be as sacred as a promise. All beauty & sacredness of human
26fellowship passes if the words you carelessly pour out to your friends
27are to be violated & given to the vulgar herd to gnaw on. Please if
28you hear I am dead while I am here promise me to at once destroy every
29one. If not I have to come back to London, I will come & destroy them.
30Please write & promise me they will all be destroyed the moment you
31hear of my death.
33It is not Edith I fear would want to make money out of them; but
34others into whose hands they might fall It was hard work those last
35days in Africa destroying those bags full of letters. Of course there
36are a few letters from people one has never seen about politics &c,
37one might keep as they are hardly personal. But I destroy all, now
38everything I get goes into the waste paper basket.
40I have just been reading some works Dr Parker lent me on Diabetes One
41by Savage a great authority. He says in all his vast experience at
42Bethlum he has found no relation between madness & diabetes What makes
43Dr. Ettie Sayer say Ediths madness is caused by it? I have known four
44people who died of diabetes; & they retained all their sweetness &
45gentleness to the end; they just passed away quietly, becoming weaker
46& weaker, & slipping away at last. And all the people I know now who
47have diabetes like my friend Bob Muirhead, are particularly sane &
48intelligent. It is quite new theory to say that people with diabetes
49are mad? Of course a mad person may have any
53^Good bye.^
The medical book referred to is George Savage and Edwin Goodall (1907) Insanity and Allied Neuroses: Practical and Clinical London: Cassell. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription.