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Letter ReferenceErnest Rhys Papers vol II (Ernest Rhys) Eg. 3248, ff.11-17B
ArchiveBritish Library, Department of Manuscripts, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateFebruary 1888
Address FromHotel Mediterranio, Alassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToErnest Rhys
Other VersionsRive 1987: 136-7
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the British Library for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date of the letter has been replied by addres and content.
1 Hotel Mediterranio
2 Alassio
3
4 Dear Mr Rhys
5
6 It will take me still two months of night & day work at least to bring
7Mary W to an end. It has cost me already about four times as much
8labour as an African Farm did, but in one sense immeasurably more
9because I have really gathered into it the whole of my life's work. I
10had written a series of articles on sex questions which I intended to
11publish in the Fortnightly & then in a volume I find that to do my
12work rightly I have had to use all that material. There is no side of
13the sex question, woman's intellectual equality (or as I hold
14inequality with man) marriage, prostitution, on all ^which^ one has to
15^not to^ speak. My present work is bringing down the immense mass of
16material I have into a condensed form. Sometimes I find by throwing a
17thing into the form of an allegory I can condense four or six pages
18into one, with no loss but a great gain to clearness.
19
20 //I do not know what the real vale of my work is, no man can judge of
21his own, but if I could take £8 for this a 1/2 would be liberal
22payment for a book like the African Farm. For any one of the little
23allegories in it I should get several pounds.
24
25 I can't say what it will be like exactly till it is quite done or what
26I shall want for it. but it seems to me it will be hardly suited for
27the Camelot & that if Walter Scott were to bring it out in a large vol.
28 at 3/6 the first edition it would pay much better, & he could afford
29to pay me more. There is such an immense amount of interest roused at
30present on the marriage question, & there are large number of people
31who wh would buy the book whether the price were large or small.
32Should you lose anything by its not coming out as a Camelot? I will
33write you an introduction some day for one of your other Camelots on
34which I have not so much to say & which does not so concern my whole
35life's work. I can not write the thing in any different way from that
36in which I am writing it, & I fear it will not be fit for the reviews
37because it ^is^ couched in the shape of a running commentary on Mary
38Wollstonecraft's life, & would not be clear to those who have not the
39life to refer to - but I shall see.
40
41 Of course I am in all the agony of giving birth to it, & perhaps it
42will not seem so valuable to me when it is done, but now it seems to
43me that if ever I bring it to an end I shall be willing to die feeling
44my work is finished!!
45
46 Of course I could write an introduction this afternoon & send it off
47by the first post tomorrow, but what would that be. I much regret that
48I ever undertook to write it, but I couldn't leave it now even if I
49threw it in the fire when it was done. I shall write to you again as I
50get near the end.
51
52 Have you heard any news of our friends the Smiths lately? I've not
53heard for some time. I am ha having a very good time as far as health
54goes, & the absolute quiet & solitude is splendid for work. That which
55is an agony & a labour in England is bliss here. As soon as Mary W. is
56off, I shall get ready the novel as it ought to follow it shortly. I
57have not yet made arrangements with any publisher about it. I shall
58return to England for that purpose & shall call on Scott. The only
59reason why I
60
61 ^should like to send unreadable^it^ him is because Dirks is connected
62with the business & he is a man I could thoroughly trust.
63
64 Yours very sincerely
65 Olive Schreiner ^
66
Notation
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter, and is also in a number of respects incorrect.