Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature

By Kathy J. Whitson | Go to book overview

S

SCHREINER, OLIVE

The South African novelist, feminist, anti-imperialist, pacifist, and Socialist Olive Schreiner is best-known for her novel The Story of an African Farm (1883), whose protagonist Lyndall is an outspoken feminist heroine and New Woman whose tragic end unfortunately belies her forward-looking attitudes on female equality. Like her American counterpart Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Schreiner was a leading feminist thinker at the turn of the century, the author of the feminist tract Woman and Labor (1911), which she referred to as her “sex-book” and suffragists hailed as their bible.

Born in Cape Colony, South Africa, in 1855, Olive was the ninth of Gottlieb and Rebecca Lyndall Schreiner's twelve children. Although her father, a deeply religious missionary of German descent, led the family into destitution, her mother never lost her sense of British superiority over both the Boer (Dutch settlers in Africa) and the native Africans. Olive's bleak childhood was spent wandering the karroo (South African plains), going from mission station to mission station. Although she lacked a formal education, she read widely and was especially influenced by the philosophical works of Herbert Spencer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Stuart Mill, the champion of women's rights.

At the age of fifteen, she took the first of a series of governess positions with Boer farming families. Out of the loneliness and frustration bred from her position as a servant in other people's houses, Olive began to write novels. In 1881, she went to England to become a medical doctor, taking with her the manuscript of The Story of an African Farm. Although the chronic ill health that was to plague her for the rest of her life prevented her from completing her medical studies, her novel of South African life, published in 1883 under the pseudonym Ralph Iron, created a sensation in London and turned Schreiner into an instant celebrity. She

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Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • References and Suggested Readings 3
  • References and Suggested Readings 7
  • References and Suggested Readings 13
  • References and Suggested Readings 17
  • References and Suggested Readings 20
  • References and Suggested Readings 24
  • B 33
  • References and Suggested Readings 35
  • References and Suggested Readings 44
  • References and Suggested Readings 48
  • C 56
  • D 72
  • References and Suggested Readings 78
  • E 80
  • F 82
  • References and Suggested Readings 91
  • References and Suggested Readings 95
  • G 96
  • References and Suggested Readings 105
  • H 106
  • References and Suggested Readings 116
  • References and Suggested Readings 123
  • I 124
  • J 125
  • K 132
  • L 140
  • References and Suggested Readings 144
  • References and Suggested Readings 146
  • M 150
  • References and Suggested Readings 176
  • N 177
  • References and Suggested Readings 186
  • O 187
  • P 193
  • References and Suggested Readings 201
  • References and Suggested Readings 205
  • R 206
  • References and Suggested Readings 207
  • References and Suggested Readings 212
  • S 213
  • References and Suggested Readings 220
  • References and Suggested Readings 221
  • References and Suggested Readings 226
  • References and Suggested Readings 232
  • References and Suggested Readings 243
  • Y 244
  • References and Suggested Readings 249
  • References and Suggested Readings 250
  • W 251
  • References and Suggested Readings 256
  • References and Suggested Readings 284
  • Y 285
  • Index 293
  • About the Author 301
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