"Solitude, change, work" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Havelock Ellis 2006.29/9
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date31 May 1886
Address FromThe Convent, Harrow, London
Address To98 Earlsbrook Road, Earlswood, Surrey
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 101
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The date of this letter is provided by the postmark on an attached envelope, with the address it was sent to on its front. The final insertion is on the envelope. Schreiner lived at the Convent in Harrow from late May to late September 1886.
1 Havelock
2
3 I've just come back from seeing M. Harkness. Oh, the joy to get back &
4here again. I could have cried for joy when I got out here at the
5station & walked up the hill. I don't know how it is I have been able
6to live among the rush so long; a little more & I should have broken
7forever. Oh this blessed, blessed solitude ^& stillness.^
8
9 My darling boy, I wish I could help you. If I had not my work I could
10be like I was. What you, & my brother & Mrs Walters & Mrs Brown sy &
11Dr Donkin ^& K Pearson, & my Mother,^ say, "You are changed, you are
12changed," means simply that I am not living in the world that
13surrounds me but in my work. You can't understand & there is no use in
14my saying anything on the matter ever to you. K Pearson has written me
15such a pained letter, because I said I didn't want to answer his
16letters. Sometime I feel inclined to swear a big oath, & throw all my
17M.SS in the fire, & say "Here I am, I shall live as I have lived the
18last three years, never in my work, never conscious of myself, but
19through & in the people I love." My heart is sore sorrowful about it.
20And what after all is my work worth that I should sacrifice every
21thing to it, that I should torture myself like this.
22
23 I won't say any more on this subject again to you or any no one. Good
24bye, my own darling. I wish I were dead. But tomorrow I will forget
25all of you, even my brother, & work. I wish I could help you my
26darling.
27
28 Oh am I right in trying to get back into my old state & work. Deep in
29my heart I feel that I am, but doubts will come sometimes & I hate
30myself so I wish I was dead. I wish so you would come & see me here.
31This is such a beautiful place. I wish you would come some day about 3
32o'clock. You have been more help to me than you can ever know my
33Havelock.
34
35 Olive
36
37 ^My darling Havelock I do love you. Can't you believe it?^
38
39 ^This letter isn't nice but I'm so worn. This morning my brother writes
40that as he knows I won't take the trouble to answer him he sends a
41card with his address on which I can return to let him know I've got
42his letter. I'm writing to Miss Haddon to tell her I can't come she
43would only say I was changed.^
44
Notation
Cronwright-Schreiner?s (1924) version of this letter is incorrect in various respects.