Speech by Howard Phillips at launch pf The World’s grGreat Question: Olive Schreiner’s South African Letters 1889–1920
Today sees a telling conjucture of date, place and person.
The Date: 9 August is Women’s Day, a day especially appropriate to launch a volume of the letters of as committed a feminist and colour-blind a suffragette as Olive Schreiner.
The Place: We are across the road from where the Kalk
Bay Anglican Church schoolroom stood a century and more ago, which is where
Olive Schreiner probably spoke at a Women’s Enfranchisement League meeting in
1908. A little sculptured memorial commemorating Olive Schreiner marks the spot
on the sea side of the
The Person: The main speaker at today’s launch is Professor
Her distinctive stamp of wide and thorough scholarship, penetrating insight and attention to detail mark every page, and for this the VRS is profoundly grateful, to both her and Andrea Salter and those around them who sacrificed much family time to ensure that our deadlines were punctually met. On the VRS’s side, I must thank Elizabeth van Heyningen, Russell Martin and Cora Ovens who joined me in the ‘Schreiner task team’ to act as an in-house editorial panel whose queries and suggestions to Liz and Andrea drew, I think, more than one equivalent of an e-mailed sigh from them. Liz – and through you to Andrea – our gratitude goes to you for your forbearance and consistently highly professional scholarship. This book is a tribute to you and these admirable traits.
How best do we express our thanks? We could give you extra copies of
the WGQ, but that would be like
carrying coals to
Rather, knowing you as I have come to do, Liz, I am sure that the very best way to express the VRS’s gratitude to you for editing this volume to the highest standard is to present you with, not another book, not another bottle, but with a copy of a hitherto unknown letter by Olive Schreiner which has only just come to light, thanks to the sharp and informed eye of one of our members, Professor Jane Carruthers, who found it inside her copy of a biography of Olive Schreiner which was originally owned by Olive’s friend of very long standing, Mary Brown. The VRS is delighted to be able to present you with something which we know has very special meaning for you, in return for everything you have poured into this volume for it. Thank you.
I fear that this means that this edition of the WGQ is already out of date and that a second edition will be required at once. In the interim, I ask you to tell us about this first edition of the WGQ.