"Olive died peacefully" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/15
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSunday 8 January 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 133
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 Sante Croci
2 Alassio
3 Sunday morning
4
5 I’ve come up here. It’s a little ruined chapel on a point sticking
6out into the sea. Oh Edward, I wish you could see this blue blue sea &
7the faraway mountains with the snow upon them! It is perfectly
8solitary up here. There are olive trees about & an old Roman Road
9leads up to it. There isn’t a sound but sometimes a large fly flying
10about, & the sea so far down below one can barely hear it.
11
12 Yesterday some of the women at the hotel laughed at my clothes & said
13at lunch that some people were too poor to afford proper dresses &c &c.
14 I cried after I came out & I’m afraid they heard me, so I
15couldn’t face them again today, so I got the waiter to give me
16something to eat & came up here. It’s so lovely. I like it best of
17all places in the world, except a farm where I lived in Africa. I
18don’t know why this spot helps me so. I come here with all my
19troubles small & large, & they go away. I’m not going back to the
20town till late in the night & I’ve brought my papers to write. Oh
21was there ever anything so glorious as this blue Mediterranean!
22
23 //I got your letter this morning just before I came out. I’m so glad
24it’s so well with you. You must go to Capri. How nice if I could
25think when I looked across the blue water that you were down there.
26
27 I am getting on with my novel, but very slowly. My nervous system is
28shattered, so that when I put pressure on it, even under my own hand,
29it gives. It will be a good book if ever it is done – if ever.
30
31 //You know the air is clear today almost like in Africa. There is a
32little town on the hills about 20 miles away and I can see it quite
33distinctly. There is such joy to me in looking far. Oh, isn’t it
34nice to be out in the open & it doesn’t matter what you wear or
35anything. There’s such a pretty little longlegged fly walking all
36over my paper.
37
38 //I shall be glad when the song book is ready. Have you got many of
39Lowells in? I wish so much I had thought of reminding you of some of his
40
41 Give my love to George Adams. There is always something so beautiful
42to me in the thought of a new little life coming into the world.
43Isn’t it funny I never can see anything ludicrous or unlovely in it
44all. The first time I saw a birth it was a halfcast prostitute at the
45Cape, who had lain down in her labour behind a hedge. None of the Boer
46women or black women would go near her, & I helped ^& an old black man!^
47It was so wonderful & beautiful to see that little new life coming out
48under a blue sky just like this, & a little older child of ^the
49woman’s,^ of two years old, sat watching. I often wonder what has
50become of that little baby I brought into the world!
51
52 Goodbye, my dear old comrade.
53 Olive Schreiner
54
55 You’ll be sure to give my love to G Adams & his wife. Tell me how it
56goes with you all. I sent the Allegory this morning before I came out.
57It’s the one in MS. ^Send them back.^
58
59
60
Notation
The novel Schreiner is 'getting on with' is From Man to Man. The allegory she sent to Carpenter cannot be established. The 'song book' referred to is: Edward Carpenter (1888) Chants of Labour London: Swan Sonnenschein. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter.