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Seymour Fort

(George) Seymour Fort (1858 - 1951) was born in Britain and educated at Oxford. He worked for a time in the Western Pacific and was then appointed private secretary to Sir Henry Loch when he was Governor of Victoria, Australia. Fort later accompanied Loch on his appointment as Governor of the Cape and High Commissioner for South Africa in 1889. Fort resigned his appointment shortly thereafter and began working for the Rhodes-controlled British South Africa Company, undertaking some prospecting missions in the territories north of South Africa. At the outbreak of the 1893 Ndebele War he was made civil commissioner in the Umtali region, and then later High Commissioner, a post from which he later resigned to continue his mining activities and management of some of Rhodes?s mining concerns. Fort left southern Africa in 1896 and on his return to London developed a career as a journalist and writer, contributing to various newspapers and eventually publishing biographies of both Leander Starr Jameson and Alfred Beit.

Schreiner's letters to others make several references to Seymour Fort and it is clear that she knew him well. In November 1890 she wrote to Will Schreiner commenting of Fort that 'He & I grow nearer & nearer as friends.' Indeed an 1892 letter to Mary Sauer indicates that newspaper reports claimed that Schreiner was to marry Seymour Fort, a false claim which she asked Sauer to publically refute. Later on it appears that Fort was one conduit of information for Schreiner about some of the Chartered Company's atrocities in Matabeleland and Mashonaland, as they were then known, in the mid-1890s. Fort also enjoyed an ill-fated romantic liaison with Schreiner's friend Adela Villiers, with Schreiner remarking to Constance Lytton that Adela ought to have known better, writing, 'I regard Seymour Fort now simply as a big joke. I never take him seriously^!^. His reminiscences of Schreiner are slighting, and belied by the 'at the time' information contained in her letters about their friendship. It is likely that some letters were exchanged between Schreiner and Seymour Fort, although none have been traced.

For further information see:
E.E. Burke (1981) ?Fort, George Seymour? in (ed) C.J. Beyers Dictionary of South African Biography  Vol IV Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, pp. 160 - 161
G. Seymour Fort (1942) Chance or Design? A Pioneer Looks Back London: Robert Hale Ltd
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collection icon Lytton Family Papers: Schreiner’s letters to Constance Lytton are part of the extensive family papers of the Lytton family and are held in th... Show/Hide Collection Letters
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