"Case against Cronwright-Schreiner; OS asks Will Schreiner seven legal questions" Read the full letter

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Zipporah Cronwright (nee Featherstone)

Zipporah Cronwright nee Featherstone (1835 - 1912) was Samuel ‘Cron’ Cronwright’s mother and so Olive Schreiner’s mother-in-law. She came partly from 1820 settler stock and married Samuel Cron Cronwright (1834 - 1888), son of Peter Wright, a missionary for the London Missionary Ssociety, in Grahamstown in 1860. The surname Cronwright, an amalgamation of Cron and Wright, was adopted by the family in 1857. After her husband’s death in 1888 she lived mainly with her daughter Ella Beatrice Featherstone Cronwright in Hopetown. She died in 1912, from a stroke preceded by breast cancer.

From Schreiner’s letters, Cronwright Schreiner and perhaps also his brothers supported their mother and sisters financially after their father’s death, and this continued after his marriage to Olive Schreiner in 1894, with none of his sisters seeming ever to have worked for their living. This seems to have placed some financial strain on the Schreiners at times, as discussed for instance in Schreiner’s letter to her brother Will of 12 June 1898. While Olive Schreiner seems to have been superficially fond of her mother-in-law - “Cron’s dear old Mother” - and fully embraced a sense of family duty towards Cronwright’s family, she nonetheless found she had little in common with them. In 1896 she wrote to Mary Sauer, for example, commenting that she could not have her mother- and sister-in-law to stay for two months as they had wished, because it would interfere with her ability to work and write. The clear implication across various such letters is that they had no understanding or acceptance of her work as a writer.
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