"Woman's work, men & women's qualities, education" Read the full letter
Julius Gau (1845 - 1927) was briefly engaged to Olive Schreiner in 1872. She met Gau at the home of the Robinsons in Dordrecht, where Gau was resident and she was employed as governess to the Robinson children. She became friends with him and his sister, with whom he lived. Gau was born in Germany but migrated to the Cape in 1861. It appears he and Schreiner were engaged around the middle of 1872; her letters show that they then travelled together to her parents’ home in Hertzog to announce the engagement. On 18 August 1872, Schreiner wrote from Hertzog to her sister Katie, “I am engaged to be married to Mr. Julius Gau of Dordrecht. I can’t say just yet when we shall be married; it may be very soon, that is in four or five months, or it may not be for at least a year to come.” However, the engagement was broken off by Gau shortly after, and Schreiner went to join her siblings Theo and Ettie at the Diamond Fields at the end of that year. Gau fairly swiftly married a rich widow from Dordrecht, Florence Relly, in early 1874 and later became a prominent business man in Johannesburg. There has been considerable speculation about the nature of Schreiner’s relationship with Gau and why it ended, including that she was pregnant by Gau and perhaps had an abortion, although there is in fact no actual evidence for this beyond Schreiner using the word ‘abortion’ (in the sense of a mishap) in some of her writing. It is likely that some letters were exchanged between Schreiner and Gau, although none have been traced.
For further information see:
Karel Schoeman (1991) Olive Schreiner: A Woman in South Africa 1855-1881 Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball
- Cullen Library, Historical Papers, University of Witwatersrand: Historical Papers in the Cullen Library is a leading location for accessing archival papers across many periods, organisation... Show/Hide Collection Letters
- Findlay Family A1199/1124:Hertzog, August 18th 1872, My dearest Katie!, You must not expect a long letter from me to day, as I have a bad head ache., I...
- Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin: The HRC, Austin, is one of the world leading locations for archival papers pertaining to literary life and manuscripts across... Show/Hide Collection Letters
- HRC/CAT/OS/3a-xvii-b:Wednesday , Have not been able to post today, comrade. Please find out for me whether the picture of the horned beetle is in ...
- University of Cape Town, Historical Manuscripts: Manuscripts & Archives at the University of Cape Town is a leading location for accessing archival papers across many per... Show/Hide Collection Letters
- Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/1:Wednesday night, May 8th., My own sister!, Its near morning, my poor charge has just fallen in to a quiet sleep & I am si...
- Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/2:My own sister!, I am sitting in my little room at Hertzog, at home at last. I arrived here yes the day before yesterday with ...