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Letter ReferenceHRC/OliveSchreinerUncatLetters/OS-PhilipKent/3
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date19 April 1883
Address FromEdinburgh House, Warrior Square, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To
Who ToPhilip Kent
Other Versions
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.
1Edinburgh House
2Warrior Square
3St Leonards-on-Sea
4April 19 / 83
6My dear Mr Kent
8Thanks for your letter. About Smith & Elder – they were the first
9publishers to whom I sent the MS. They wrote me a long & very kind
10letter about talent & pathos & originality & all that sort of thing,
11but they they said that in spite of it all they couldn’t take the
12book because it was depressing, & the English public do not like to be
13depressed. I’m afraid it is no use going to them again. What do you
16Then I went to Richard Bentley. He kept the MS a long time, & then
17wrote that he would like to see me. I went. He said that three of his
18readers had read the book & that he had read it through twice himself.
19That he had never felt such reluctance in letting a book pass from his
20hands, but that Lyndall’s conduct was highly reprehensible. Of
21course I couldn’t change that, so I took the MS to Rimmington of New
22Bond Street. He offered to publish it, I running a small share of the
23risk & receiving nearly all the profit. But when I went to see him I
24didn’t like his face, & I couldn’t afford to lose money, so I drew
25back. I sent it to Mr Chapman; Mr George Merideth was the reader, & he
26recommended him to take it.
28Of course Chapman & Hall could publish the cheap edition with greater
29advantage to themselves than any other firm, because they have the
30type of the first edition still standing. They said they would keep it
31for four months to see if I wanted a cheap edition. Mr Chapman knows I
32am writing another book. He offered to buy the one I am writing now
33for a few pounds, without ever having seen it. But I thought better
34not. He says it is doubtful whether he ever makes £10 out of the S.A.F.
36If you do think there would be any use in again writing to Smith &
37Elder I would be so glad if you could do it for me. I’m afraid there
38isn’t. How-ever I enclose some of the reviews.
40I don’t think that one would be any happier if one were famous, but
41it would be nice to have money, because man is a feeding animal.
43I am afraid you will regret ever having come upon that book with the
44animated ostrich on the back, I give you so much trouble.
46I am,
47Yours sincerely,
48Olive Schreiner
The manuscript referred to is that of The Story of An African Farm. Schreiner's comment about 'ostriches on the back' refers to the decorated hardcover of the two-volume first edition. The 'other book' Schreiner is writing is most likely From Man to Man, then sometimes referred to as Saints and Sinners.