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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/50
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date20 July 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 176
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.
1 Matjesfontein
2 Cape of Good Hope
3 South Africa
4 July 20 / 90
6 It was such a surprise & pleasure to get your letter last mail. I
7thought you had quite forgotten me Here in my solitude I can forget no
8one. I don’t know what I told you or didn’t tell you when I last
9wrote. This is a place up in the solitude of the dear old Karroo where
10I have been four months & am like to remain another six at least. It
11is not a farm because no farming goes on here but it all belongs to
12one man from whom I hire the little cottage I live in by myself. No, I
13have no friends here, but I am very friendly with all the Bushmen
14Hottentots Kaffers & am very well & very very happy.
16 I can understand now why that English life was such a death to me,
17shut out from the sun & mountains & planes that had made all my life
18before I went there. Of course it’s so beautiful to think of you all
19& feel I have you all safe in my heart forever & I am so thankful I
20had that life, but it will be a long time before I want any more of it.
22 Yes, I heard my good friend Karl Pearson was to be married: he wrote
23me a note. I think it is the best thing that could have happened to
24him & that he will be very happy.
26 I really have nothing to tell you, leading this quiet, happy life up
27here. I write a little, & read a great deal, & wish I could give you
28just one peep at our glorious sunsets.
30 Now I’ve given you all my news you must write soon again & tell me
31all about you all about you all. Give my love to our dear Bob when you
32write; & to George Adams when you see him, & come out here some day. I
33am sure you would see the beauty of my land so great so wild so
34untamed. I am still working up steadily towards my trip to the
35interior, gaining exact information as to what to take &c, & finishing
36my books which are to take me.
38 Please give my love to Isabella Ford if you should see her, I’ve
39been so glad to hear about her story but have not been able to see it
40up here. I am just reading Stanleys Travels.
42 Good bye.
43 Always yours
44 Olive Schreiner
The 'books which are to take me' refers to the projected 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa', and From Man to Man. The 'Stray Thoughts' essays were originally published pseudonymously from 1891 on as by 'A Returned South African', with most of them written or drafted while she was in Matjesfontein. Although later prepared for book publication, a dispute with a US publisher and the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some related essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa. 'Stanleys Travels' is likely to be: Henry Morton Stanley (1878) Through the Dark Continent London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington; or else, Henry Morton Stanley (1890) In Darkest Africa London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.