"Dream for federation of South Africa, one day we shall need love & devotion of black & coloured man" Read the full letter

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Lucy Molteno

Lucy Molteno was the wife of John Charles Molteno, a brother of Betty Molteno and Caroline Murray nee Molteno. She was involved in women’s suffrage activities in Cape Town and it was in this context that Schreiner became friendly with her, a friendship that over time became a close and loving one for Schreiner. The initial letters give the sense of Schreiner writing to a much younger woman and they commence quite formally in 1903. However, by 1909 Schreiner has written ‘call me Olive’ and herself invokes ‘darling Lucy. They had been drawn together around suffrage work, with many of the letters arranging meetings and having a very affectionate, loving character. There are also many comments referring to ‘us all who love you so’, a feeling Lucy clearly reciprocated as shown by her many acts of kindness to Schreiner including giving her a ‘send off’ present when Schreiner left South Africa in 1913 as well as helping raise donations among Schreiner’s close feminist friendship group to enable her to go to Europe for heart treatment. These letters are then more than quotidian in their content and concerns, and as well as suffrage activity Schreiner attempts to involve Lucy in her plan for setting up a discussion club for men and women with Lucy at its head (which she declined). While in Britain during the First World War, Schreiner’s affection and love continued and with a strong sense of her gratitude that Lucy did not forget her: “Oh thank you, thank you for remembering me”, for she continued to receive letters, Christmas presents and other expressions of continuing friendship. Lucy Molteno was one of the small group of people with whom Schreiner stayed when she first returned to Cape Town in later 1920.
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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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collection icon National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown: The National English Literary Museum is the leading location for collections pertaining to the imaginative and creative writi... 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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