"Sauer's last act, no glimmering of modern truths in South Africa" Read the full letter

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z|All

May Murray Parker

May Murray (1881 - 1972) was a daughter of Caroline and Charles Murray. She married a British medical doctor, Frederick Parker, in 1915 and together they lived at Llandrindod in Wales until 1920, when they removed to South Africa. Olive Schreiner stayed at the Parkers’ home, which they ran as a bed-and-breakfast cum sanatorium, on a number of occasions during the First World War, and it was here too that Will Schreiner died following his final illness in June 1919.

Schreiner’s first extant letter to May Murray Parker dates from 1913 and thanks her for her letter. In the early letters in particular, there is a strong sense of May very much as the younger woman and the daughter of one of Schreiner’s friends, Caroline Murray. However, later a close and affectionate bond developed between Schreiner and May. When May moved to Britain in 1915 to marry Freddy Parker, Schreiner wrote warmly to welcome her, and thereafter she stayed with the Parkers in Llandrindod Wells on a number of occasions and commented to May, “I think of your dear little house as a sort of heaven of happiness & rest & love.”

While Schreiner’s letters to May Murray Parker mainly concern exchanges of family news and other pleasantries, it is clear that for Schreiner Parker was a link to her South African friends and life, and a loving presence during her rather lonely and difficult years in wartime London. From Schreiner’s many letters of thanks, it is clear that May Parker, living in comparative comfort in a small town in Wales, sent Schreiner (who along with most Londoners, was suffering from wartime food privations) many gifts of food (butter, chicken, rusks and so forth). Schreiner wrote a moving letter of condolence to May in April 1918 when her brother George Murray was killed in the war. She also wrote a number of letters to May in 1919 when Will Schreiner went to stay with the Parkers in Llandrindod Wells during his final illness, suggesting ways to make Will comfortable, and after his death thanking May for all that she and her husband Freddie had done to help Will and support Fan Schreiner.

May Murray Parker also played an important role after Schreiner’s death in preserving some of her papers and in commemorating Schreiner’s legacy. In 1955, for example, she with Daisy Solomon and others organised a series of events commemorating the centenary of Schreiner’s birth. As part of this, May Murray Parker transcribed 41 letters written by Schreiner to her friends Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. The originals of these letters are now no longer extant and so the typescripts produced by May Murray Parker and archived at the University of Cape Town are all that remain of these important letters.
Back to top


recipient icon Recipient Of
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
Back to top


mentioned icon Mentioned In
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
Back to top