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Reverend Zadok Robinson

Schreiner stayed at the home of the Rev. Zadok Robinson and his wife Susanna in the small South African town Dordrecht, from August 1871 until mid-1872. Here she taught the Robinson’s children in a semi-official capacity as governess. Zadok Robinson had travelled to South Africa from Britain in 1861 as a Wesleyan minister, and he first met the Schreiner family in Healdtown. It was at the Robinson’s Dordrecht home that Schreiner met Julius Gau, to whom she was engaged for a short period. Schoeman also emphasises the importance of this period in Dordrecht to Schreiner’s intellectual development, owing in part to the access she was given to Robinson’s “extensive library” (1991: 203). The character Jonathan Barnacles in Undine is said to be modeled on Zadok Robinson, and if so suggests considerable ambivalence on Schreiner’s part.

For further information see:
Karel Schoeman (1991) Olive Schreiner: A Woman in South Africa 1855-1881 Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball
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