Words in season

Words in Season is a selection of Olive Schreiner's uncollected writings on key South African issues, supported by her own autobiographical pieces.
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Title: Words in season
Subtitle: The public writings with her own remembrances collected for the first time
Author: Olive Schreiner
Editor: Stephen Gray
Series: Penguin Modern Classics
Publisher: The Penguin Group (SA)
Cape Town, South Africa 2005
ISBN 9780143185413 / ISBN 978-0-14-318541-3
Softcover, 13 x 20 cm, 217 pages


Olive Schreiner was the ninth child born into a Methodist missionary family on the remote Cape Colony border with Lesotho in 1855. Taught at first by her mother, she was perforce largely self-educated. When the family was dispersed by poverty, she was sent to various relatives in Cradock and on the Diamond Fields, soon finding employment as a governess on Karoo farms. By 1876 she was working on various novels to supplement her income. The one published in London as by 'Ralph Iron' in 1883 - The Story of an African Farm - would make her a notable figure and guarantee her livelihood for the rest of her days. As Hector Bolitho commented in 1929, 'She contributed the first creative work of the Southern Hemisphere to English literature/ Thereafter she shuttled between London and Europe and various up-country South African resorts. In 1894 she married the farmer Samuel Cronwright, who agreed they adopt one another's surnames as the Cronwright-Schreiners.

After her death in 1920 in Cape Town, her 'Cron' arranged for the publication of much of her uncompleted creative work and wrote The Life of Olive Schreiner with an edition of her Letters. Besides literary production, Schreiner's prodigious energies went into her public writings, mostly in the second half of her life, as this collection demonstrates. Her combative journalism was left aside by Cron, however, and hence has never entered the Schreiner canon. Her fame afforded her the advantage of being a conscientious spokesperson for a raft of progressive causes. Three celebrity interviews conducted with Schreiner, showing her range as an often funny, irresistible spokesperson, and the impression she made on life in South Africa and abroad as a favourite subject, are included, together with some of her own sharp remembrances. 'Words in Season' is a selection of Olive Schreiner's uncollected writings on key South African issues, supported by her own autobiographical pieces.

Content: Words in season

Notes on Sources
Early Remembrances
The Forefathers: Silk Stockings and Snuffbox
Awl and Last
A Face in a Dream
A New Generation
Letter to The Daily News
The Woman's Rose
Introduction to A Vindication
The Salvation of a Ministry
A Paper Read to the Kimberley Literary Society
The Political Situation (with S. C. Cronwright-Schreiner)
Letter Concerning The Political Situation
Words in Season
A Message to the English People
Letter to The Sun
An Interview with Olive Schreiner (A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson)
Speech at Graaff-Reinet
Encountering Olive Schreiner (Henry W Nevinson)
Speech on the Boer War (Cape Town)
Letter on the Boer War (Paarl)
Speech on the Boer War (Somerset East)
Letter to the Social Democratic Federation
Letter to the Johannesburg Shop Assistants'
Letter on the Taal
A Letter on the Jew
Letter on Women's Suffrage
Petition to the Honourable Members
Closer Union
A Tribute to Jan Hofmeyr
Foreword to Veldsingers' Verse
On Woman and Labour (by W. T. Stead)
How Famous People Renew their Health
On Conscientious Objectors, London, 1916
Letter to a Peace Meeting
Letter on John Stuart Mill
The Dawn of Civilisation
Somewhere, Some Time, Some Place

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