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Sophie Colenso

Sophie Colenso nee Frankland (born 1855) was the daughter of Sir Edward Frankland, Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution. In 1880 she married Francis (Frank) Colenso, son of the famous Bishop John Colenso of Natal. According to one source, “Frank Colenso’s fiancĂ©e refused to emigrate to Natal. In 1879 he gave up a promising career at the Natal Bar, and returned to England accepting an appointment with the Norwich Union” (Spencer 1981: 341). The Colensos settled in Britain and had four children. When Frank Colenso died in 1910, Sophie continued to live at their home Elangeni, in Amersham.

Schreiner, who knew Harriet Colenso in South Africa and was probably also acquainted with the wider and closely linked Colenso family, wrote a number of letters to Sophie Colenso while living in London during the Great War. Her ‘My dear Friend’ salutation in many of these letters suggests that they had already met or corresponded before, and they are characterised by a tone of warmth and sympathy, although there is little sense of a close or personal friendship. The letters are dominated by making arrangements for face-to-face meetings. For Schreiner, perhaps Sophie Colenso formed a point of connection to South Africa and South African affairs, and she seems to be one of the few friends Schreiner saw during the war with whom she shared pacifist values. In responding to Coleno’s invitation to visit her, she commented, for example, that “My heart feels much draw to all people who are pacifists in this terrible time. Worse than any of the physical suffering, is the hate & the complex moral evils which come from war.”

For further information see:
Gwilym Colenso (2006) ‘Colenso, Francis Ernest (1852-1910)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/95487
Shelagh O’Bryne Spencer (1981) British Settlers in Natal 1824-1857: A Biographical Register Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press
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collection icon Bodleian Libraries Special Collections: Schreiner’s few remaining letters to Frank (or Harriet) Colenso, to Alfred Milner and to Cecil Rhodes are part of the l... Show/Hide Collection Letters
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mentioned icon Mentioned In
collection icon Bodleian Libraries Special Collections: Schreiner’s few remaining letters to Frank (or Harriet) Colenso, to Alfred Milner and to Cecil Rhodes are part of the l... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon Macfarlane-Muirhead Family: Schreiner’s letters to Robert Muirhead are part of Macfarlane-Muirhead family collection and can be accessed at the Mui... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon 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
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