"The baby's holy little life" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/12
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date After Start: Monday September 1920 ; Before End: October 1920
Address FromBirzana, Plumstead, Cape Town
Address To
Who ToMinnie or Mimmie Murray nee Parkes
Other Versions
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. This letter has been dated by reference to address and content. Schreiner stayed with her niece Ursula Scott, her sister-in-law Fan Schreiner, and her friend Lucy Molteno, in Cape Town after her arrival from Britain on 30 August 1920, moving to a boarding-house in Wynberg in late October, where she was resident until her death on 11 December 1920.
1 c/o Mrs ^Dr^ Scott
2 Birzana
3 Plumstead
4 Cape Town
5 Monday
6
7 My dear dear Friend
8
9 I was so glad to get your letter yesterday & one from Andre this
10morning. Kathie will have left by this time but I am hoping Bobbie
11will be able to come & see me before he goes. I suppose I should not
12know him again if I saw him in the street I do wish there was any hope
13of your coming here in the summer. Is there none? I cant come to
14Graaff Reinet while its so hot, but I'm just building on coming to you
15in the winter say about the end of March when it begins to get cool.
16If Broederstroom is too damp I'll board in Graaff Reinet & come out to
17see you whenever I can, & I'll always be able to see you when you come
18in. But I do hope I'll be able to stay at the farm.
19
20 It's beautiful to think of Andre happy & in her own home. What a sweet
21wife she will be, & what a mother. I hope they will have children. The
22niece with whom I am staying is going to have a second little baby.
23Her little boy is such a joy to me. I am only in trouble because so
24far I can't get rooms anywhere. I have advertised but got no answers.
25I cant go back to England now just when the awful winter is coming, &
26the expense is enormous. I have to be be quite close to the tram or
27train as my heart troubles me so I get attacks of angina as soon as I
28walk. I suppose something will turn up, but I have been nearer despair
29than I've ever been in my life. The old boarding houses I used to go
30to, are all full. G I fear Kathie will be gone by this time but I do
31hope Bobbie will be able to see me. I am going to spend two days with
32Mrs Charles Molteno, & if he can't come I'll get her to drive me to
33the college where perhaps I shall be able to see him for a minute.
34
35 Oh dear friend, it would be such a joy to see you.
36
37 Anna Purcell drove me on Sunday to see her husbands grave at Maitland:
38it is a mercy she has her three dear beautiful children. Tell -
39Address care Standard-Bank Strand Street Cape Town, not here, as I
40don't know where I shall be.
41
42 Olive
43
44
45
Notation
In mid 1921, Cronwright-Schreiner wrote to Mrs Murray (Olive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/32) concerning the letters Olive Schreiner had written to her, as follows:

Personal

Rosebank House
Rosebank (Cape),
21.6.21

Dear Mrs Murray

Thank you for your letter of the 25th May which, for some unaccountable reason, did not reach me (at Johannesburg) till the 16th inst. It explains the fact that I have not replied sooner. I am returning to Rosebank early in August, & shall be so grateful if you will kin, as so kindly offered, send me Olive’s letters, to reach Rosebank about the middle of July. I shall of course return them, as you wish; but I am sure Olive would like all her letters to be destroyed as the only safeguard against their eventual publication. You may not like to destroy them now, but I hope you will see that, on your death, they are destroyed. Other friends are going through her letters to them & making extracts & some of them are then destroying. However, I shall return them to you uninjured.

Yes, I sent you the photo & am so glad you have it & like it. I wanted to be photographed with her in London & she was keen about it; but she delayed until it was too late, & so, on her death, all I had to fall back on was her “passport” photo taken in Edgware Road on (I think) the 3rd August. I was indeed fortunate to be able to get it. I have a great collection of photographs of her, including two specially interesting, one taken on her 14th birthday & the other in 1877 (a superb thing) when she was writing “The African Farm”. There is considerable difficulty in accumulating all the facts about her early life (before the end of 1880), but a large amount of very interesting facts are coming to light which will be of the most engrossing interest to those who love her & value her great genius. She died so beautifully in her sleep after a happy & well day. She loved you most dearly, & indeed all of you.

I have just run up here from the Cradock district where I have been making arrangements for her burial on the highest peak of the mountains of my old farm (as she wished) & have been visiting her her the spots where she was governessing in 1875 & later. How vacant that great veld seemed when her radiant presence could see it no more.

With kind regards, yours very sincerely
S.C. Cronwright Schreiner

It would be of value to me in the preparation of her biography if you will would send me some notes about her as you saw & knew her, especially traits of her great & baffling personality. I want especially such facts as will enable people to realize how ?massive her personality was; & often small unreadable & peculiarities show that. Her genius speaks for itself in her writings.