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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3a-iHRC/CAT/OS/3a-xiv
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateFriday 31 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: 194-6
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 is composed of a number of pages, which are now separated in the HRC collections as the result of pre-archiving happenstance. The 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 at different addresses from mid October 1884 to the end of April 1885.
1Th Friday Mo Eve.
2
3I have written & thought all day so delightfully. When it was getting
4dark this evening I went out for a walk to buy some sardines &
5bis-cuits for supper. The night wind was bit ^blowing cold as I^ came
6back but so nice & fresh Wh I found your letter in the stand when I
7came in.
8
9You are quite right about men prostitutes. That is just the point I
10noted with interest when reading the Blue Book. No man can endure so
11much physical entercourse as a woman. It would simply be impossible,
12^to the same degree^ & one fourth as much would kill him.
13
14One woman could, from the purely physical standpoint, better satisfy
15six men, than one man could satisfy six women.
16
17My brother who talks much & freely on such subjects to his old boys
18who tell him everything, & who is an authority on such matters, tells
19me that as a rule, a man is completely knocked up when he first
20marries, whereas the woman is never brighter or fresher, than when
21first married
. He says it is a well known thing among men. – But we
22can talk about this when you come.
23
24I do think that in that article in the latter part Miss H– puts it
25too much as if the ideal condition, the condition to be striven after
26was the union of three. There may be certain conditions in which it is
27desirable, just as there are certain morbid conditions when it is
28absolutely necessary that an individual should have nourishment every
29ten minutes; but the natural thing & generally the best is to have
30three hearty meals a day. But there can be no law laid down. The value
31of Miss H’s paper is that it is protest against cut & dried laws. It
32is the spirit that profiteth.
33
34It’s good for me to think & study about the woman question
35especially prostitution, while I’m working at my book. Its the only
36thing that does^n't^ take me always from my work or that I can really
37study at the same time. Of course the subject of my book is
38prostitution & marriage. It is the story of a prostitute & of a
39married woman who loves another man, & whose husband is sensual &
40unfaithful. Don’t be afraid that my mind won’t swing round. When
41I’ve got this book off my soul I shall look round at other sides of
42life. I dares Get me something on the woman question or prostitution ^for
43for the French book if^
44
45^you can. Has Renan written anything on it?^
46
47Send me Babel when you can. It will be so sweet to have you here. I
48shall like if you can show me the article.
49
50Good bye Ellis. (In my mind, I always think of you as Ellis.) It’s
51such a sweet name.
52Olive
53
54I should like to get a good French book of Renan’s to translate.
55Order me one from the library please & I’ll translate it I wrote
56to-day for “Woman question &c as I have only 8 books & you three we
57can have more. I have finished the two prostitution books. The one is
58idiotic, the other not had, but forty years old. The blue book is
59valuable. Find out if they have B.Bs at the London. I’m so glad the
60essay is getting on. All your work is mine, I love it.
61
62Later
63
64Ellis, what wasn’t clear in the “Rem” were words left out or was
65the sense confused? On Monday week you’ll come, & your little sister
66will show you the sea & everything & everything! If you can come early
67Monday morning & stay till Tuesday evening I will wear that horrid hat.
68 I will never spend 30/- on a hat for myself again. I never have
69before. I could of course write
70
71^ever so much for the N.L.^
72
73^but I don’t want to spare the time.^
74
Notation
Caroline Haddon's article was published anonymously: Anon (1884) The Future of Marriage London: Foulger. 'My book' dealing with prostitution and marriage is From Man to Man. The 'blue book' is the government report or 'Blue Book' on the workings of the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864, 1867, 1869. Schreiner's 'Remembrances' are incomplete and appear in Cronwright-Schreiner's The Life of Olive Schreiner London: Unwin. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription.Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) version includes material from a different letter and is also incorrect in other ways.