"About Rebecca Schreiner, OS's childhood, her writing" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/13
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 December 1887
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 131-2
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections. This letter has been dated 1887 from content and place in the archival sequence. Schreiner stayed in Alassio from late October 1887 to February 1888 and from early April to May 1888.
1 Xmas morning
3 I’ve just got your letter & photo. The sun is shining on the terrace
4out side my door. It is very cold but bright.
6 Yes, you must get away from Sheffield. I have seen that for a long
7time, but only the person themselves can tell when the time has come.
8You have never tried to live utterly utterly alone, that is why you
9think it hard. There’s a time that comes when it begins ^(the living
10quite alone)^ of agony. One has to live through that & come out on the
11other side, & then one knows the blessings & uses of absolute solitude.
12 Perhaps I should never have known it, I am sure I never should, if
13when I was very young I had not been made to go through it, no way of
14escape. Now, when the agony of loneliness comes on me I know it will
15pass when one’s powers of feeling are worn out, & peace comes
18 I wish you could be quite utterly alone for some four months, & come
19out on the other side. Of course it doesn’t do to keep on too long
20because one gets at last a feeling of deadness, as if one had gone to
21sleep. Death will be like that. Yet one can work. You must get away
22somewhere where there is sunshine & warmth. Are you going with Barnes
23to Capri? Why don’t you go & stay there for three or four months
24quite by yourself & wither & agonize, & live through it & find your
25own feet? In the summer I shall be living in some little out of world
26village in Austrian Tyrol or South Germany & perhaps we might spend a
27few weeks together. Think this over. But one cannot advise another.
28Only this I know – you ought not to be in England. Sometimes the
29thought comes to me, what if you and Adams were to go to our new
30wonderful gold fields at the Cape? Splendid, new young life! Ah, it is
31so glorious. It is something that old world people cannot conceive of.
32Thousands of human creatures congregated together without poverty,
33without weakness; all alive, striving, hoping. I think it would help
34you. I cannot at the moment think of a quotation. Make one! The sun is
35shining here. Oh, you must get
36 ^out of England & come into the sunshine,
37 Edward.
39 Olive^
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.