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By: (1855-1920)

Olive Schreiner was a South African writer and intellectual born in 1855 to missionary parents in the Eastern Cape. She was one of the earliest campaigners for women's rights. She was also very critical of British Imperialism in her homeland and particularly of their racist policies against the Boers, Jews, Indians and the Black races of South Africa. As a result of her public support for the Boers, all her manuscripts and her house were burned during the Anglo-Boer War and she was interned in a concentration camp for several years. Her first novel "The Story of an African Farm" published in 1883 became a best seller, and is considered to be one of the first ever "feminist" novels. The success of the book also made her the first internationally successful South African novelist. "Dreams", her second book was published in 1891. It is a collection of eleven allegorical stories. Many of them read very like prose poems. The book was very well received at the time of publication and went through many editions by the time she died in 1920. Like her first book it was viewed as a feminist work and became especially treasured by those Suffragettes who spent time in prison. A subsequent book of hers, "Woman and Labour" published in 1911 was one of the most important and influential feminist works of the time, so much so that it is often cited as the "Bible" of the Women's Movement. - Summary by Noel Badrian

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