A Hollow Victory

Long after Schreiner's death, white women finally got the vote in South Africa, in 1930. Celebrating the momentous news, the Women's Enfranchisement League rushed out a copy of its journal, The Flashlight, under the headline "Victory". However, Schreiner's husband, Samuel Cronwright-Schreiner, was quick to retort in his late wife's name. Here is the letter he wrote to the League, asking that Schreiner not be associated with the "Victory" because she would have disapproved of the racially segregated nature of the vote in South Africa.

Dear Madam,

My niece, Mrs Lyndall Greg, writes that you propose issuing a Victory number of your suffrage paper to celebrate the Women's Enfranchisement Act, telling me also of the letters that have passed between you and herself, relative to Olive Schreiner's (my late wife's) attitude towards the Act.

Without expressing any personal opinion of the Act, I have no doubt that Olive's much-beloved niece has rightly estimated what her aunt's opinion of it would have been. Olive Schreiner would not only not have looked upon the Act as a Victory, but publically [sic] and emphatically would have disassociated herself from any part in such "Victory" celebration as it is proposed. She would not have regarded the Act as a "Victory"; she would have condemned it, as she always condemned any legislation which tended to disenfranchisement on sex or race lines.

This being the case, I trust you will not in any way associate her name with the "Victory" celebration.

Yours faithfully,

S. Cronwright

See an image of the cover of The Flashlight's Victory edition.

- Letter from S. Cronwright to Miss Jenner, June 10, 1930 in The Flashlight, Victory Number, 1930

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"If a race or class is willing to demonstrate and do and die for freedom they will ultimately be free"
Olive Schreiner
Olive Schreiner
Picture: © Sunday Times


In this lesson plan, learners are asked to find out about Olive Schreiner's attitudes, ideas and relationships from studying photographs, letters and pamphlets.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
Images from Olive Schreiner’s life.
Artwork images for the memorial
Take a closer look at the Heritage Project memorial to a lesser-known part of Olive Schreiner’s life.