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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/2a-ii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSaturday 2 August 1884
Address FromBolehill, Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 36-7; Rive 1987: 49-50; Draznin 1992: 118-20
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 stayed at Bolehill near Wirksworth from early to late July 1884, moved to Buxton for about ten days, and then returned to Bole Hill from mid August to early September 1884.
1Sat. Night late
3I have just come home with Wilfred from a concert. I am tired but I
4want to write to you. I have so many plans about your coming, &
5don’t know which will be best. You see at Bole Hill it is nice, & in
6some ways I want so much to be there, but the Avelings being at
7Middleton makes it all different. I am beginning to have such a horror
8of Dr. A-, other-self. To say I dislike him doesn’t express it at
9all, I have a fear, a horror of him when I am near. Every time I see
10him this shrinking grows stronger. Now you see when I am at Bole Hill
11they come every-day to see me. We shouldn’t be much alone, & we have
12so many things to talk about. At Buxton we should find it too
13townified, & besides dearer than you & I like. I think the way would
14be for you to come here on Monday evening, & stay till Wednesday when
15we could talk over going back to Wirksworth, or taking rooms at
16Miller’s Dale or some out of the way little village.
18You see, Henry, we have so many things to do & to talk about. It may
19^be^ the last time we are together ^(^(certainly for months,^)^ perhaps for
20years. likely will be I have to stick to my book till the winter (& I
21don’t know that I shall have it ready by November.) Then I shall
22have to go to the South of France or at nearest to Ventnor. And if we
23are at Wirksworth the Avelings will be always with us. I love her, but
24he makes me so unhappy
26I think you had better come here on Monday & stay till Wednesday ^eh^? I
27can get you the little room Wilfred has. I wish I had read Bebel’s
28book before you came I couldn’t get a copy. Now until my little boy
29goes I shan’t be able to look at a book or a news paper. When he is
30with me I only play & amuse him, & walk about with him from the time
31he gets up till he goes to bed. Then I am too tired to read or write.
33We must read all we can on the woman question, just now it is our
34question. In after years it may be something else. I will tell you
35about “Ghosts” when you come. I touch deals with the question of
36equal moral laws for both sexes, & of physical relation ship even
37between a half brother & sister “when good.” - & with what
38wonder-ful art it deals with the subject! It is a translation by
39Frances Lord. The book is considered too strong even on the continent,
40what with they think of it in England. She is trying to find a
41publisher for it, as she lost heavily on “Nora”.
43Do you know that Wirksworth is the scene of Adam Bede & that George
44Eliot’s aunt lies buried there? Ach, I want you to see Wirksworth,
45ugly as it is; we will arrange everything when you come. Wherever we
46are we will rest together. I do tell you about myself. My chest aches.
47Wilfred is 12 years old, & just as tall as I am. His eyes are
48something like his father’s but the lower part of his face is his
51Yesterday we were rowing on the lake a in the morning, ^in^ the
52afternoon I took him to see a cavern, in the evening to a concert.
53Today being Sunday I am going to take him for a long walk & tell him
54stories. I am so
56You can’t think what a horror I am getting to have of Dr. A. He is
57so selfish, but that doesn’t account for the feeling of dread. Mrs.
has just the same intuitive feeling about him. I had it when I
59first saw him. I fought it down for Eleanor’s sake, but here it is
60stronger than ever.
62G Sunday Morning. Your little letter has come. Yes, when I don’t get
63a letter from you I go about so restless, it makes me bad. I hope you
64will get my book this morning or tomorrow.
66^That will do instead of a letter.^
The book Schreiner has to 'stick to' is From Man to Man. Frances Lord 'lost heavily' on her Ibsen translations; see Henrik Ibsen (1881) Ghosts (trans. Henrietta Frances Lord) London: Griffith, Farran & Co, and Henrik Ibsen (1882) Nora (later A Doll’s House) (trans. Henrietta Frances Lord) London: Giffith, Farran & Co. The book Ellis might get the next day is likely to be is the manuscript of Undine, which Schreiner sent him and he kept until it was published by Cronwright-Schreiner after her death. The books referred to are: August Bebel (1884) Woman in the past, present and future London: Reeves; George Eliot (1859) Adam Bede London: William Blackwood & Son. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different 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) extract is incorrect in various ways.