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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/77
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date2 May 1897
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 311
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.
1 Alassio
2 Riviera
3 Italy
4 May 2nd 1897
5
6 Dear E.C.
7
8 Send Bob’s letter here. I wish I could see the dear old fellow.
9There’s so much I wish to say to him which is so difficult to write;
10I mean such affairs as his are so complex & many sided.
11
12 I wonder whether the dear lad quite sees his wife’s side of the
13question. It’s so hard for the noblest & best man to. Of course all
14my sympathies & affections are with Bob, so perhaps I could make her
15side of the question even clearer to him than she could. I mean there
16are hundreds & thousands of women who feel just as Bobs wife felt, but
17who because they are not married to men as noble & large as Bob dare
18say & do nothing. Men marry, thinking that if they are faithful & kind
19to their wives & support them & their children it is all right: but
20this is just the mistake. Either, a woman must have her own large
21interests & work in the world as a man has, or the man by a constant
22active outflowing of sympathy & affection must compensate to her. What
23is so appalling is the desolating emptiness & barrenness of the
24majority of middle class women’s lives.
25
26 Bob’s wife seems to have struck out against this; I know of dozens
27among my married woman friends who would, but they dare not because
28they would be dragged through the divorce court. I know of at least a
29dozen women of whom the world would never expect it, whose cry when
30they really can trust you always is - Life is so empty, so barren, our
31husbands are absorbed in their professions; we are so lonely & wonder
32what we live for" &c. The wife of one of the most able lawyers I know
33fell in love with a miserable little drawing master ten years younger
34than herself. She knew he wasn’t one half the man her husband was or
35one tenth as worth loving, but as she said - My Husband gives all his
36real thought & life to his profession. This man sympathizes with me.
37What does it matter to me that my husband is great & noble, I get only
38the fag end of him when he comes home at night." The real solution of
39the marriage difficulty is that men & women should have common work, &
40nothing else will solve it! Friendship & not passion (though with
41passion) must be the basis of a really successful married life.
42
43 I feel that my married life is more satisfactory than so many other
44peoples, because we can do nearly everything together. Dear old Bob, I
45wish I could see him.
46
47 We shall be here for another ten days or a fortnight & then go to
48Paris for two or three weeks. Please send Bob’s letter at once.
49^It’s very lovely here but getting a little hot now. It was very
50beautiful seeing you in London dear old man. They have ordered Peter
51Halket to be turned out at one of the library at the Cape because the
52language is too "hard".
53
54 Thine ever
55 Olive^
56
57
58
Notation
Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.