Letters of Olive Shreiner

To Havelock Ellis

De Aar,
Sept, 1912

Dear Havelock boy, you are unjust to me about sitting on a hill and seeing the worms crawling below. So far from thinking I am the only person who understands the woman question, whenever our Society has asked me to make a speech or write them on paper I say it would be pure waste of time when there are no end of splendid pamphlets and books on the subject; why can't they read them instead of getting stupid people to talk? In one case I sent them Chumley's [not spelt right?] pamphlets and said all I wanted to say was expressed there better than I could express it. It is just because there is such an amount of splendid writing on the woman question that it is so unnecessary for fools to read other peoples books, pick other people s brains, and then vomit it forth mixed up for the sake of writing a book. Not only men like Zangwill and Levinson and many others write what I profoundly admire but women even more so. Edith Wharton's House of Mirth is one of the most wonderful expositions of the degradation and evils of woman's present position in modern civilisation that any pen could produce. Women like Elizabeth Robins, Evelyn Sharp and many others are wonderful. Old Mrs. Despard wrote two articles many years ago called, "Why I became a Suffragette" which go to one's heart. I have heard a not at all clever or highly educated woman make a little speech at a woman's meeting that I'll never forget, it was so true, so sincere, so simple, so to the point. We have, too, women of the Miss – and Mrs. – type, women who will gush into speech and writing, churn up other people's ideas and vomit them out. We have two women who will insist on speaking at every meeting–God himself can't stop them.