Olive Schreiner entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Olive Schreiner was a political and social activist as well as a writer. Her biographer Liz Stanley says she was "internationally probably the best-known feminist writer and theorist from the 1880s through to the 1930s." Bibliographic Citation link. Much of her writing strongly advocates a more democratic, just, free society, using to do so the art of allegory and the parable. Her early novels were followed by a large number of political essays. Later, she published the feminist testament which made her an icon in the women's movement in the early decades of the twentieth century. She carried on a voluminous correspondence with many family members and friends, the latter including Havelock Ellis, Edward Carpenter, and Karl Pearson. Several volumes of these have been published posthumously, as were two early novels which she deemed unpublishable during her lifetime.
24 March 1855 OS was born in the then Cape Colony in what is now South Africa, in a mud-walled Wesleyan mission station at Wittebergen, on the Basutoland border. Bibliographic Citation link.
December 1872-November 1873 OS began writing seriously while living and working with her brothers at the Diamond Fields in Kimberley. Bibliographic Citation link.
After June 1883 OS published her first novel, The Story of an African Farm, in two volumes, under the pseudonym Ralph Iron. Bibliographic Citation link.
1911 OS published Woman and Labour, a global study of women's work and the impact on women of changes in the traditional division of labour, dedicated to Lady Constance Lytton. Bibliographic Citation link.
10 December 1920 OS died peacefully during the night, with her reading-glasses on and a book in her hand, at Oak Hall, the boarding house in Wynberg, South Africa, where she was living. Bibliographic Citation link.
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