Project Details

Key findings

1. Project research has discovered previously unknown Schreiner letters. Previously only c1200 Schreiner letters had been published, as compared with the 4800+ now published at with the number still increasing as more are offered for inclusion.
2. Key research findings as detailed in outputs (14 articles, 2 chapters, 1 edited collection, to date) recorded on the ROS are:
* The scale, range and complexity of Schreiner’s letter-writing have been fully documented ( )
* The breadth and extent of Schreiner’s analytical and political concerns are clearly evidenced (Stanley Gift, Always Known; Stanley & Dampier Halket; Stanley et al Globalizing, Microhistories, Epistolary Pact; Stanley & Dampier Express Views)
* Schreiner’s high-level practical political involvements and her letter-writing as a central means of her exerting political influence within various political networks have been fully established (Stanley & Dampier Halket, Men Selling, Express Views; Stanley et al Globalizing, Bringing-Into-Being)
* The detailed theoretical expositions featuring in many previously unknown letters have been teased out and their relationship to Schreiner’s published work amply evidenced (Stanley & Dampier Selling Souls, Just Express; Stanley et al Microhistories)
* Emergent ideas in Schreiner’s letters have been demonstrated as having a close relationship with her published writings, throwing new light on the latter (Stanley Halket, Small Stories; Salter Someone Telling)
* The performative (in the Austin sense) character of many Schreiner letters has been demonstrated, including concerning their effects regarding important political events and policy matters (Stanley et al Globalizing, Epistolary Pact; Stanley & Dampier Selling Souls, Towards, Express Views, Microhistories, Selling Souls; Dampier Quotidian; Salter Someone Telling; Stanley To The Letter)
* The importance of letter-writing in a number of overlapping Schreiner networks in challenging contemporary ideas about ‘race’ and gender has been evidenced, togetherwith Schreiner’s analysis of likely subsequent retrogressive political changes impacting on this (Stanley Always Known; Stanley & Dampier Men Selling; Stanley et al Globalizing)
* Earlier editorial practices misrepresenting Schreiner’s letter-writing have been explored, the implications for earlier Schreiner scholarship traced, and the importance of ‘bird in flight’ scrupulous accuracy in transcription emphasised (Stanley & Salter Letters Cut; also the Olive Schreiner Online Letters ( record this per previously published letter)
3. In addition to these substantive analyses, research-based contributions to methodological and theoretical debates on letters, epistolarity and the documents of life have been made, around a conceptual apparatus involving the epistolarium, letterness, the gift, the epistolary pact, counter-epistolaria, and epistolary performativity (Stanley Madness, To The Letter, Gift, Towards, Epistolary Pact, Bringing-Into-Being, Documents of Life Revisited; Dampier Quotidian; Salter Someone Telling; Stanley & Wise Domestication).
4. There are both methodological and substantive dimensions to the project key concept of the epistolarium, and its related conceptual devices (see 3.), enabling these strands of project publications to remain closely interrelated.
5. Future research and publication plans include a Van Riebeeck edited collection (due publisher 31 Dec 2012) and a monograph on Olive Schreiner’s epistolary theory, with an additional five refereed
Effective start/end date1/10/0831/03/12


  • ESRC: £689,943.00