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Letter ReferenceHRC/UNCAT/OS-152
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date19 October 1918
Address From9 Porchester Place, Edgware Road, Westminster, London
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 358-60; Draznin 1992: 513-5
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. The year is indicated by content.
1Oct 19th
29 Porchester Place
3Edgeware Rd
5Dear Havelock
7I’ve been very ill. That’s why I’ve not written. Three weeks ago
8I thought the end had come. I’ve had two doctors & been X rayed four
9times by Ironside Bruce & Mas Hugh Walshimham. The doctors have done
10nothing for me, there seems nothing to do The pictures show that I had
11had thysis tuberculosis many some years ago when I was a young girl,
12there are big holes in the lungs that have got healed up. It mush have
13been when I was a young young girl & broke that blood vessel, I have
14always had a pain under my shoulder. The say every organ in my body is
15misplaced by the life long asthma My heart is twice the size & the
16point two full inches from where it ought to by. M & the blood flows
17back into it with each beat through the defective valves. I have
18“arteroid sclerosis” of the blood vessels, & a floating kidney
19which presses against the colon & I have a stone in the kidney; & my
20stomach is very much enlarged & quite misplaced because the diaphragm
21has broken down, but Gomess the specialist I went to last says the
22most serious thing is the enlargement of a gland in the middle of the
23chest; it is this which gives me such agony now & prevents my eating.
24I used to have attack of angina once in several weeks or even month,
25but in the last 9 weeks, I have continual attacks all day, when^ever^ I
26move or try to eat, & even in the middle of the night I wake up up in
27the midst of an attack. They don’t of course think I can be cured
28but Gomess says be will try to releve the pain. What I’ve suffered
29unbrokenly in the last 25 years I have no words can tell. I thought
30when I was a young girl & had nothing but my chest that I knew what
31pain was; but I didn’t So you see, dear, I can’t come to see you
32or write much.
34Angina is different from anything else, it curls one right up.
35Yesterday I went to Harley St to be X rayed & I couldn’t get a taxi
36so had to walk, & the pain got so terrible I had to sit down on a door
37step. A woman went passed & when she had gone a little way turned back
38& asked if she could help me, & when I got better gave me her arm &
39took me to the Doctors. She turned out to be a a woman doctor. You
40would have to be as utterly alone as I am to know how that little
41incident touched me. Nothing has ever touched me so in my life.
43I’m glad you had a nice time in the country. London is very sad now;
44but all England is in the winter. I keep seeing the Riviera with the
45sun shining on the blue sea.
47Come & see me, dear, if ever you feel inclined. Let me know before
48hand if ever you should care to come. My telephone no is 6506 Paddington.
50My darling friend Adela Villiers went through a terrible operation
51yesterday. She had “Maugham” the great man from Leeds do it. She
52is alive, & perhaps she will now have more freedom from pain. She has
53had thirteen operations since she was 15 & has suffered agony all her,
54life yet kept her wonderful brave unselfish spirit to the end. She &
55my friend Edward Marriott are the two most white unselfish souls I
56ever knew. My faith in human nature could never ?pale die while I
57remembered them
59I wish the Kaiser would resign, not only for himself but all the
60Hoenzollerns. It would be much the wisest thing. I have not spoken to
61anyone for a week except Miss Molteno & that dear Dr in the street, so
62I know nothing of the outer wrold but what I learn from
63“newspapers” Its strange to live in the heart of a great city &
64yet be as cut off from all human contact & relationship as of one
65lived alone in a desert. Books are a great joy to me, but I can now
66seldom get as far as the book club in Oxford St. Have you got a copy
67of the British Pharmacopea or ?Bingers Thesop any very interesting
68medial book you could lend. I am only care for scientific books of
69facts, not popular talk, & books of history: I hate biography &
70gossipy books & any but the very best novels. I’ve read Jane Austin
71again & again & Pickwick Paper, & George Eliot & Scott, it’s no use
72my reading them any more. I often read the bible, the language is so
73beautiful, but its very depressing, all the horrors & tortures of the
74old Jewish tribal life. Have we got much further today? I’ve read
75all the books on Russia, & the the Balkans, & China, & Japan that I
76have been able to get hold of during the last year. I ?some ?fully
77will n
Tell me if you hear of any really interesting book.
79Good bye dear old Havelock.
80Your old friend Olive
82I haven’t told my Husband or my brother how bad I am as I don’t
83want them to be troubled. I’ve told no one but Dot, because I had to
84give some directions as to what was to be done with my body, & I’ve
85told you because I fear you may ^misunderstand^ my not writing.
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.