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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/2b-xxHRC/CAT/OS/FRAG/NFPm
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateWednesday 29 October 1884
Address From144 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To24 Thornsett Road, South Penge Park, London
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 43-4; Draznin 1992: 189-90
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. Schreiner was resident in St Leonards from mid October to the end of November 1884.
1Wednesday Night
2
3Yes, it is true that I want you most when other people are about me.
4This afternoon my sister-in-law was here, & while she was here a Mrs
5Liddiard called I was glad Mrs Liddiard called it made it easier for
6me. But while ^when^ they were gone, oh such a turning of my heart to
7you. I have so much to say to you.^, my comfort.^
8
9I have got your letter. It has helped me. ?Iges Yes, come soon, the
10week after next. We will arrange the time exactly bye & bye. By that
11time I shall be much needing you. It will have been so long since I
12saw you.
13
14Have you got “Remembr^ances.”^ I have had my heart in such agony
15today. The old madness that I thought I had conquered came over me
16again. No Henry, you do help me. More than you know, more than I know
17^fully^ except when at times I see it.
18
19I love I know H R Haggard can’t be Lady F D – because John
20Pursglove
says when he was working one day ^at the Fields^ she came to
21look at his machine But from the first letter & book I made sure it
22must be a woman. I can’t make out what type of man would have
23written such a book. ^Would you like to read it?^
24
25That sentence was not the only thing I wanted to write about to Miss
26Haddon
. Why at the end does she put the matter in such a onesided form.
27 In countries like the Cape where there are two men almost to one
28woman how would a man having two wives make life happier. At In
29Griqualand West, (the Diamond Fields) there has for the last fifteen
30years been a population in which there were about 10. men ol to 1.
31woman . How would ^each^ man having two women have made ^make^ things
32happier for the others? Of the few women living in all those ^Diamond Field^
33towns more than half, or quite one half, are prostitutes. What makes
34them prostitutes? The fact that the men have money & that they have
35none. If you could reverse the position of men & women & give to women
36the power, the wealth, & the work in life that men have; tomorrow you
37would have the selfish & cruel among them hiring men for f money, and
38there would be men prostitutes. as to-day there are women. Nothing but
39a perfect, absolute, & complete equality, can ever make the
40relationship between man and woman pure.
41
42What I think so valuable in Miss Haddon’s article is that it raises
43the question fearlessly. But it is only a side she shows. I am going
44to write an article on prostitution as soon as my book has got on a
45bit. I can’t wait to say what I must say. Can you tell me whether
46venereal disease is known among any savage races. I know it was not
47among Kaffirs till white men came among them. Am I right in supposing
48it first became common in Europe in the 14th or 15th centuries. Or am
49I confusing it with other diseases? That is a side of the question I
50must yet fully study.
51
52W I learn from the C. D. acts ^Blue Book^ that it is a common thing for
53a woman to have union with from 15 20 ^20 to 30^ men in a night, had you
54any idea that such a thing was possible. I had not. Ach God, I must
55write on the question.
56
57I am going to bed now. Henry, are you writing at that little
58Australian story? Do. I want you so to.
59
60Your otherself
61
62^puts her arms round you!^
63
64Henry, you mustn’t feel miserable. I put my arms round you. I get
65your old face against mine.
66
67I will send Miss Jones book. I was so muddled when I went away but I
68thought you said she said I was to keep it till I saw her or something
69like that. I'm sure I didn't want it, I glanced through it in an hour
70the first night & have not looked at it since. Henry
71
72^you mustn’t be miserable!^
73
74Hasn’t your heart ever been like iron? Mine was for five years. Then
75for the three years long years since I first spent in England I cried
76every night for hours.
77
78I must go & lie down now till I am driven up. Good night.
79
80I wanted you this evening again. I am beginning to want you so ?now. [end
81of sheet torn away]
82
Notation
Schreiner's 'Remembrances' are incomplete and appear in Cronwright-Schreiner's The Life of Olive Schreiner London: Unwin. She refers to the government report or 'Blue Book' on the workings of the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864, 1867, 1869. Caroline Haddon's article was published anonymously: Anon (1884) The Future of Marriage London: Foulger. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription.Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract includes material from a different letter and is also incorrect in other ways.