Read extracts from Olive Schreiner’s most famous novel, The Story of an African Farm, in which she criticises the unequal relationship between men and women. See how The Story of an African Farm was first received by critics around the world. View the fascinating handbill on which Schreiner scribbled objections to the programme of the Women’s Enfranchisement League, and the letter her husband, Samuel Cronwright-Schreiner, wrote to the League after Schreiner’s death, asking them to publicly distance the League from Schreiner’s memory. Immerse yourself in extracts of Schreiner’s writings on race.
RESEARCH: Text/archive — Marion Isaacs | Photos — Nhlanhla Mthethwa
» STORY OF AN AFRICAN FARM
When The Story of an African Farm was first published, it was considered an extremely controversial text — so controversial that Schreiner initially published it under the male pseudonym, Ralph Irons.
» CRITICAL ACCLAIM
Scan the first reviews of The Story of an African Farm, which, surprisingly for the time, were mostly favourable.
» SCRIBBLED OBJECTIONS
Olive Schreiner worked for many years with the Women’s Enfranchisement League, a body established to fight for the rights of (white) women to vote. Over time, Schreiner began to see the limitations of the League’s approach, which failed to take into account the needs and rights of South Africa’s black population.
» A HOLLOW VICTORY
Long after Schreiner’s death, white women were finally given the vote in South Africa. Celebrating the momentous news, the Women’s Enfranchisement League rushed out a copy of its journal, The Flashlight, under the headline "Victory". Schreiner’s husband, Samuel, was quick to set them right in his late wife’s name.
» SCHREINER’S VIEWS ON RACE
For her time, Olive Schreiner was a progressive woman, advocating the extension of rights to black South Africans.