Saturday, December 11, 2010

On December 11

On this day in ...
... 1920 (90 years ago today), feminist and pacifist writer Olive Schreiner (left) died in South Africa, 65 years after her birth in what is now Lesotho. She was the 9th of 12 children born to a poor missionary family. A voracious reader of social theory, early on she rejected religion, and further
rejected the accepted stereotypical gender roles and espoused an equality of shared labour between men and women.
After working for years as a governess, Schreiner sailed to England, where her semi-autobiographical novel, The Story of an African Farm (1882), was published under a male pseudonym "because of a contemporary prejudice against women authors"; she revealed her identity in the 2d edition 9 years later. (credit for circa 1909 photo) Back in South Africa, she married and gave birth to a daughter, who died within in a day, sending Schreiner into deep depression. During the Boer War, Schreiner lost all her property and was interned for a year on account of her support for the Afrikaner side. Her Women and Labour (1911) is described as a "feminist 'bible' of the early twentieth century"; another late-in-life work argued in favor of rights for blacks in South Africa.

(Prior December 11 posts are here, here, and here.)

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