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Sociology: Research


The Olive Schreiner Letters Project



Olive Schreiner

The Olive Schreiner Letters Project website provides a portal for all things Schreiner, as well as providing details of project research and giving users access to downloadable publications.

The Olive Schreiner Letters Online publishes a full scholarly edition of the total extant Schreiner letters. These are free access, fully searchable and printable; and they are accompanied by an extensive editorial apparatus and also thematically organised collections of letters.

‘The Unknown Schreiner’ is still in progress. It will eventuate in publication of a full scholarly edition – complete with additions and deletions – of Schreiner’s remaining manuscripts.

South African by birth, Schreiner was a feminist, socialist and social theorist with an international reputation – following publication of her 1883 novel The Story of An African Farm she became one of the world’s most famous women. In addition to three novels, a novella, allegories and short stories, she also wrote a number of powerful political essays and a major theoretical treatise, Woman and Labour, dubbed ‘the bible of the women’s movement’. Woman and Labour was her riposte to Marx’s labour theory of value, while her other writings helped forge social science theorization of imperialism, being a major influence on J.A. Hobson and through him on Lenin’s theory of imperialism. Schreiner was the leading critic of imperialism of the day, and a major voice in opposing increasingly racialised policies and practices in South Africa over her life-time.

For more information, please go to the websites above and also see the staff pages for:

Professor Liz Stanley and Dr. Andrea Salter


Olive Schreiner Letters Project in the News

The ESRC has awarded an OUTSTANDING evaluation to the Olive Schreiner Letters Project. Find out more here.


Vote for the best Olive Schreiner letter! 

Closing date 31 March 2014

Vote for the best Olive Schreiner letter! The prize is a nice Unwin edition of Schreiner's Dreams, first published in 1890. Closing Date: 31st March 2014.

Liz Stanley & Andrea Salter invite you to vote for the best letter, and as the editors of the Schreiner letters, have identified a 'top ten' to choose from.

For the letter which receives the most votes, the editors shall put the names/email addresses of all those who voted for it in a hat and then randomly select one winner. That person gets the prize!

Stanley & Salter ask those voting to provide a brief (50 words max) comment on their reasons for selecting a particular letter. They hope to include an anonymised selection of these comments on the Olive Schreiner Letters Project website once the competition is over.

The closing date for voting is 31 March 2014, and your vote should be sent by email to Dr. Andrea Salter (


And the nominated letters, with live links to them, are as follows - enjoy reading them! :

1. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Professor Ray Lanchester, on marraige. Royal Spa Hotel, Shanklin. 31, January 1886 (link to letter)

" ...You say: "It appears to me quite a truth proposition..."

2. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Karl Pearson, on minds going through stages like a caterpillar. July 1886 (link to letter) 

" Dear K.P. , I have been reading your letter over again, & there are many things it makes me want to say..."

3.  Letter from Olive Schreiner to Edward Carpenter, on marriage, friendship & financial independence. The Homestead, Kimberley, South Africa. 8, October 1894 (link to letter) 

"Dear old E. C. , The marriage pamphlet has come. I think it splendid!"

4. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Alice Greene, on the great meerkat attack! Hanover. 14, October 1904. (link to letter)

"Dear Friend, You will have wondered that I did not write before but I have not been well..."

5. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Betty Molteno, on more Cronwright problems. 23, July 1904. (link to letter)

"Dear Friend, I’m so glad it has been such a good time with your brother, & I’m so thankful you are keeping well"

6. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Julia Solly nee Muspratt, on the politics of the Women's Enfranchisement League. May 1908. (link to letter) 

"Dear Mrs. Solly, I can’t quite understand your letter & perhaps you don’t quite understand me..."

7. Letter from Olive Schreiner to John X. Merriman, on the backwards and forwards movements of how societies change. De Aar, Northern Cape. 11, August 1912. (link to letter)

"Dear Mr Merriman., Re. your letter. No, I do not take a sorrowful view of life generally..."

8. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Adela Smith, on the women's movement being so vast. De Aar, Northern Cape. July 1912. (link to letter)

" ... I feel that the woman's movement is so vast that we all have quite distinct work…"

9. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Will Schreiner, on his face haunting her, she knows (that he is dying). 9 Porchester Place, Edgware Road, Westminster, London. May 1919. (link to letter)

"...My old Brother Your face haunts me. Your dear eyes. My poor old Will. I know, dear. Olive ..."

10. Letter from Olive Schreiner to Jan Smuts, on it being his last throw
 Oak Hall, Wynburg, Cape Town, Western Cape. 19, October 1920.  (link to letter)
"...Jan dear, you are having your last throw; throw it right this time. You are such a wonderfully brilliant ..."
Olive Schreiner Letters Fragment