n English in Africa - Olive Schreiner in Rhodesia : an episode in a biography

Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Readers of biographies of Olive Schreiner - except for the pioneering work of Vera Buchanan-Gould (see 1948, 198-99) - could be forgiven for doubting whether Olive Schreiner ever in Rhodesia. Although her husband's edition of her includes three which cover this journey (Cronwright-Schreiner 1924a), he makes no mention of it in his (1924), and it is not touched on either in First and Scott (1980) or in Stanley's impressive biographical chapter (2002). Arguably, it does nothing to alter the by now well-established outlines of Olive Schreiner's life; yet, as we shall see, the visit itself might have meant the premature end of that life. Moreover, it documents Schreiner's visit to two sites of immense importance to her : the 'Hanging Tree' in Bulawayo which features in the (deliberately shocking) photographic frontispiece to the first edition of (1897), and, secondly, Cecil Rhodes's grave in the Matopos. In just over a decade (13 Aug. 1921), she too would lie in her chosen mountaintop tomb.

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