The Story of an African Farm
  • Publication Date: January 27, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551112862 / 1551112868
  • 366 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Story of an African Farm

  • Publication Date: January 27, 2003
  • ISBN: 9781551112862 / 1551112868
  • 366 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The Story of an African Farm (1883) marks an early appearance in fiction of Victorian society’s emerging New Woman. The novel follows the spiritual quests of Lyndall and Waldo, who each struggle against social constraints in their search for happiness and truth: Lyndall, against society’s expectations of women, and Waldo against stifling class conventions. Written from the margins of the British empire, the novel addresses the conflicts of race, class, and gender that shaped the lives of European settlers in Southern Africa before the Boer Wars.

This Broadview edition includes appendices that link the novel to histories of empire and colonialism, the emergence of the New Woman, and the conflicts between science and religion in the Victorian period. Contemporary reviews are also included.


“This excellent edition of The Story of an African Farm allows us to read the novel in its important social, political, and literary contexts. Along with its thorough overview of the novel’s place in turn-of-the-century views on gender and race, the text’s introduction contributes a long-overdue focus on Schreiner and Victorian political economy. Readers will value the extensive appendices, which allow us to see the novel not only as an innovative narrative but also as a key intervention in social, political, and religious debates that affected Britain and its empire. This edition is an important achievement.” — Paula M. Krebs, Wheaton College

Olive Schreiner: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Story of an African Farm

  • Dedication
    Preface to the Second Edition

Appendix A: Historical Contexts

  1. James Anthony Froude, from Two Lectures on South Africa (1880)
  2. Olive Schreiner, from Thoughts on South Africa (1891;1923)

Appendix B: Philosophical Contexts

  1. Herbert Spencer
    1. From “Progress: Its Law and Cause” (1857)
    2. From First Principles of a New System of Philosophy (1871)
  2. Charles Darwin, from On the Origin of Species (1859)

Appendix C: Social Contexts

  1. John Stuart Mill, from The Subjection of Women (1869)
  2. Havelock Ellis, from Sex in Relation to Society (1910)
  3. Olive Schreiner, from Woman and Labor (1911)

Appendix D: Literary Contexts

  1. Olive Schreiner, from Dreams (1890)
  2. Charles Dilke, from Problems of Greater Britain (1890)

Appendix E: Contemporary Reviews

  1. Henry Norman, “Theories and Practice of Modern Fiction,” The Fortnightly Review (December 1883)
  2. Canon Malcolm MacColl, “An Agnostic Novel,” The Spectator (13 August 1887)
  3. H. Rider Haggard, “About Fiction,” Contemporary Review (February 1887)
  4. Andrew Lang, “Theological Romances,” Contemporary Review (June 1888)

Select Bibliography

Patricia O’Neill is a Professor of English at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.