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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/2a-xi
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday 3 September 1884
Address FromBlackwell, Alfreton, Derbyshire
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 40; Rive 1987: 50-1; Draznin 1992: 136-8
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. The final insertion is written on the back of the envelope.
2Wednesday Ngt
4I got here this afternoon. The woman is so horrible: they want me to
5take & pay for the room that I didn’t ?st take. I don’t know what
6to do or where to go. Would you go for me to Eleanor, or rather would
7you find out where she is ^at once^ & send this letter to her. I have
8written to both the addresses I thought would find her & got no answer.
9 It is to ask her for the address of those rooms Miss Harkeness had.
10Also if it wouldn’t be too much trouble could you get me the
11addresses of some rooms some where in the part Miss Jones used to live
12in. But don’t trouble about this as I will very likely find rooms in
13Ventnor. Henry I just feel in despair. I am so weary of roving about.
14I shall do no work I shall do no good in the I world if I can never
15find a place to rest in Now, for the next week or ten days till I am
16settled I shall not be able to put pen to paper. I feel so weak & I
17feel so tired, love. Put your arms round me. Yes, I know you do & it
18helps me so. I am unwell & I have such pain in my body. I feel so weak
19as if I wanted someone to stroke my hair. Oh I haven’t any where to
20go to I must have a place somewhere if it is only one tiny little room
21& no one shall turn me out. My comfort, my boy, you do let me rest my
22head against you. Please write to me. Above all things any rooms you
23get must be quiet quiet quiet. I only want to rest I don’t want any
24thing else.
26When the woman was talking to me I began to cry & I’ve I been crying
27ever since. I can’t stop my self. I wonder if my physical state has
28anything. I’m not so weak generally, as to let anyone see me cry. I
29have been wanting you more all these days than I have let myself know
30I have been trying to forget it & work. I passed our caves. Harry they
31didn’t look like when we were there. It was in us the beauty. Your
32little sister wants to know how your
34^mother is & Louie’s hand. Good night. When I go to bed I shall think
35how you love me.^
39^Wednesday afternoon^
40Have arrived at Blackwell. Written at Blackwell.
Louie Ellis was also in correspondence with Schreiner, and while none of Schreiner’s letters to Louie survive, three of Louie’s letters to Schreiner are archived with the Ellis materials in the HRC collection. Immediately before this 3 September letter to Ellis, Louie and Schreiner had been in correspondence about a dress Louie was making for her; Louie’s comments on this (HRC/HavelockEllis/Misc/LouieEllistoOS/3) are as follows::

‘Sunday night.
Aug. 24th 1884

My dear Olive,

Thank you for wanting to write me - & doing so. You must be sorry that Henry is coming home. I am very glad, only sorry for you - & perhaps you are glad for me – so it mitigates it all round. Why do you call him Ellis? There is a comradeship about it, but I don’t like it. I don’t want to wear boy’s clothes, exactly – a gymnastic costume, comes near my desire. But I’d be content to begin with some g flowing gown which would not encumber one. I’ve forgotten what we planned. I was trusting to H. to remember when I mentioned it. It was a loose body, because a tight body tho stays is an anomaly and I think a long plain ^or knitted or tucked^ short – just escaping the ground – that makes you look tall – your ?silk was rather too short – (you’ll excuse me won’t you) and the sleeves must be tight – tho’ I don’t like tight sleeve – because one looks so broad - and you know that bright soft gypsy red, that’s the color that wld suit you. Walking along the other day – I was charmed with a girl’s dress – it was in the Island – down a lovely winding road – with an old wall on one side – she was walking in the road – with a gypsy red shirt on & ^a^ black body holding a basket. No artists’ forethought could have introduced a better bit of color into the landscape.

Its very hard for me to imagine you sitting with your hair down – as I’ve never seen you without your bonnet!!

I’m so glad Henry is better – he hasn’t had a rest for a long time – he only rushed to Paris & back last year you know - & had ^with^ a male friend.

I am in a night dress & dressing gown - & my hair is screwed up in brown papers, showing my “noble brow” as my friends say; the appearance is very comic.

Goodnight dear, this hot weather in Anerley tires me very much. Louie.

^Mother sends you her love.^'

Draznin’s (1992) version of Schreiner’s 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.