"Heart dying up last 5 or 6 years, 'Soul of a People' like rain falling on dry parched soil" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/3/145-146
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date11 December 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early October to late December 1886, when she left England for Europe.
1 Dear Mr Pearson
3 Our agreement was to write to each other on the 9th comparing work.
4Illness prevented me. Has the work got on; am I to see it now?
6 For three weeks I worked night & day & finished a story I saw no one
7all unreadable but on Fridays. On the 30th I went to hear a paper by
8Mrs Wilson. For two days I worked at my club paper on marriage. I was
9already getting ill & had to go to bed. I had meant to finish it, & in
10the last five days ^to^ write the Wollstonecraft paper! Now I have
11nothing to show you, because I see my story is is a failure, & it was
12very beautiful when I was writing it. I will send you a little
13allegory I have written when I can get up to find it. The other two
14are yours you can print them or burn as you like. I don’t want them.
16 //Perhaps the reason you did not write was not that you forgot. If
17ever you see in me what you do not like write to me of it with
18"brutal" sincerity. I like that. I will deal so with you. If I see or
19believe the smallest thing that seems unworthy of you I shall tell you
20of it latterly; even though it does not concern me.
22 //When you feel you have had enough of my friendship & all that you
23think it can yield you; tell me without the least regard to any pain
24you may cost me. In this I will trust you.
26 Yours faithfully
27 OS
29 Dr Donkin fancies you shun him. Unless he has given you reason for
30doing so speak to him next time you see him. He is miserable.
32 Please send me the woman ^motherage^ paper you read at to the club, &
33also the bit you sent me at Harrow.
35 What I want from you is, a clear, ^precise^ statement of as to what, as
36the result of your study is the general idea which you have formed of
37the nature of the mother-age in Germany. One main value of your paper
38to me was that in it one seemed to see your mind working & could watch
39its method; but you were still grasping
41^at the details. Do you feel that the picture is being a whole to you
42now that it is all working into one? Do not force your mind such
43general ideas must be allowed to form, they cannot be forced, or they
44are valueless. If it takes three years, so be it!^
The story Schreiner had finished cannot be established. Her 'Wollstonecraft paper' is her proposed 'Introduction' to a new edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's (1792, London: J. Johnson) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, but which was never completed. A very early draft fragment of it appears in Carolyn Burdett (1994) History Workshop Journal 37: 189-93. Pearson's paper on the 'motherage' probably refers to his 'A Sketch of the History of Sexual Relations in Germany', read at the Men and Women's Club in June 1886.