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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/1b-i
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateThursday 10 July 1884
Address FromBolehill, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 27, 27-28; Rive 1987: 45; Draznin 1992: 87-8
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. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark, which also provides the address it was sent to. See also Schreiner's letter to Ellis of 9 July 1884 (HRC/CAT/OS/1b-xv), which was originally in the same envelope.
1Bole Hill
2Wirksworth
3Thursday.
4
5I found your letter waiting for me when I got here.
6
7The poems are all powerful except “Love & Life” which I think weak.
8 I like “The two loves,” very much.
9
10You are right in all you say about Marston. That is just it. You have
11no right to des-cribe him exactly in the same words I des-cribed him
12the other day though.
13
14I felt somewhat ashamed the other day after I had said that about
15sexual feelings. Fancy being ashamed of you. Now I’m not.
16
17About Hinton one reason why I can not feel quite the same about him as
18you do is that it seems to me that all that he says (except about a
19married man having one more than one wife, & that I have thought too!)
20is such old old property of mine. When I come to tell you all my life
21you will see that this is true. What I think is that sometimes he puts
22the true views badly, & not quite truly.
23
24But you are wanting to know about me.
25
26I got here last evening in the rain. This is a beautiful place, & a
27delightful clean little cottage off four rooms on the side of a hill
28over looking the little tiny town of Worksworth. It is perhaps not so
29pretty as some other parts of Derbyshire may by be, but to me who
30haven’t unreadable ^has^ longed so for my old hill life, it is so
31delightful One feels near God here.
32
33My chest is still so very bad. I hope I will be able to stay here. I
34like it so. There are only four little rooms in the cottage. I have
35such a beautiful little bedroom & sittingroom. If ever you should come
36here we will read French together. Only I am sorry there isn’t
37another bedroom in the house. We would have seemed somehow nearer if
38we had been in the same house. But there are plenty of cottages near
39by where I could get you a bedroom if you did come.
40
41I send you a letter part of which will perhaps interest you to read.
42It has made me so happy. It is the first tenderish letter I have had
43from my brother Theo for so many years. He is twelve years older than
44I am & when I was a child I used to worship him, & love him so. When I
45was ten & began to be a free-thinker he drifted away from me. He
46hasn’t cared for me much since because Christianity makes his whole
47life. He used to love me so. One day I will show you some little
48allegories & letters of his, the allegories about me, wonderful when I
49think they were written by a brother of three & twenty or so to a
50little sister of nine. Then he turned away from me so utterly when I
51began to think.
52
53I value this letter very much. It is only the last part that will
54interest you. Isn’t it funny that people I have loved most have been
55^of^ my own family & the people I knew best. It isn’t newness that
56attracts me, it’s oldness. The more I know things the more I love
57them, if they are lovable at all.
58
59How nice it will be to read French with you. If I do get better here
60it will be some time before I am fit for work. It is so beautiful here
61to me Henry. On the hill opposite some great stone quarries. It is as
62though something tore the hill open & said “Here, you shall see not
63only the smoothe but the hard strong stuff that is inside too.”
64Somehow I like quarries. ^so^. Some people think them ugly.
65
66Your little child.
67Olive
68
Notation
The poems referred to are Ellis's sonnets, which were not published as a set until 1925 although some of them appeared contemporaneously in journals and magazines; see Havelock Ellis (1925) Sonnets With Folk Songs From the Spanish Waltham St Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press. 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. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) short extract is incorrect in various ways.