Paul Walters is Emeritus Professor of English at Rhodes University, Makhanda (Grahamstown), South Africa. He has worked as lecturer in the USA and South Africa, and from 1979 was based at Rhodes University, where he was appointed to the first incumbent HA Molteno Chair in 1982, and made Emeritus Professor in 2009. Paul’s childhood included trips to the Schreiner burial site and extended winter stays on a Karoo farm, which awoke a lifelong love of the region, its peoples and literatures. Paul has been a sometime Rhodes representative on the AMAZWI South African Museum of Literature Council, and is one of the lead organisers of the annual Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival. With joint author Jeremy Fogg, Paul has published regularly on Schreiner.
Jeremy Fogg was born in Johannesburg in 1951, and studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg College of Education and University of Cape Town. After thirteen years of teaching, Jeremy moved to Makhanda (then Grahamstown) to join AMAZWI South African Museum of Literature (then the National English Literary Museum). He worked here from 1986 to 2013 as Researcher, Archivist, Senior Curator, and Deputy Director, with particular oversight of Educational Outreach and the Schreiner House, Cradock. Jeremy has worked with Paul Walters on various Schreiner-related articles and publications.
‘Schreiner in the Museum’
Located in the small country town of Cradock, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, the Schreiner House Museum serves as the epi-centre of what might be called “Schreiner Country” and as the ideal site for the interpretation of that uniquely significant terrain in Schreiner’s life and works. Although Schreiner lived in this house (with siblings Theo, Het, and later Will) only for about 3 years, it lies within a radius of 60 km of the farms Gannahoek, Leliekloof, and Ratelhoek, where later, as governess, she wrote and revised The Story of an African Farm, Undine, and began From Man to Man. Nearest of all lies Krantzplaats, to which she came as Cronwright’s bride on 24 February 1894. A few months later, assisted by Cronwright and the farm horses, she climbed to the summit of Buffelskop, and, overwhelmed with the view, expressed the wish they should both be buried there. With a little forethought and planning and the goodwill of the present owners, all these sites can be visited.
The acquisition by NELM/AMAZWI in 1983 of the much altered and virtually derelict Schreiner cottage provided the fledgling National Literary Museum with an unprecedented occasion for a literary museum to commemorate, in a highly author-specific way, the first internationally recognized South African writer in English. The restored and amplified Schreiner House bears comparison with Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Cumbria, or Hardy’s home in Dorchester, and offers similar opportunities for education, outreach, and the exercise of the historical imagination.
This chapter will briefly situate the Schreiner House within the history of the development of the parent museum, and suggest some enabling conditions for its success. It will elaborate on the educational and outreach programmes to which the existence of the House has given rise, and briefly touch on the potential for a “Schreiner Route” for literary tourists. The authors will draw on both published material and first-hand experience: Fogg was Deputy Director of NELM from 1991-2013, and Walters served on the NELM Council and its sub-committees for over a decade, and participated in some of the outreach programmes.