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Margaret Harkness

Margaret (‘Maggie’) Elise Harkness (1854 - 1923) was a British writer and journalist, and is now perhaps best known for her publications using the pseudonym of ‘John Law’ (perhaps a response to Schreiner’s early pseudonym of ‘Ralph Iron’). Harkness was a second cousin of Beatrice Webb, one of the Potter sisters. Schreiner came to know Harkness during the 1880s when she was living in London, and they moved in the same ‘New Woman’ circles. Some of Schreiner’s earlier letters to other people from the 1880s suggest that she initially liked Harkness and sought out her company, but it is apparent from later letters that she came to regard Harkness as a somewhat predatory person in a number of respects. In letters to W.T. Stead and her sister-in-law Fan Schreiner from the early 1890s, and also her one powerful extant letter to Harkness herself, Schreiner makes it clear that she did not wish to continue a relationship, epistolary or otherwise, with her. Indeed, the imprecations of the ‘tall thin woman’ are described to Fan Schreiner as among the reasons Schreiner had left Europe.

For more information see:
John Lucas (2004) ‘Harkness, Margaret Elise (1854-1923)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56894
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