Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography by Claire Harman (2005)

Relevance of biography for Stevenson Normally I don’t like biographies of writers, since they take you away from the hard-earned riches of the fictional text, and drag you back down into the everyday world of contracts and illnesses, of gossip and hearsay. Thus Harman spends some pages trying to decide whether Stevenson’s penis entered the […]

The Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

Sight-seeing is the art of disappointment. Introduction In summer 1879, after an unhappy year of separation from his American lover, Fanny Osbourne, who had left him in Europe to return to her errant husband in California, Stevenson realised he had to confront her and force her to choose between her unfaithful husband, Sam, and himself, […]

The Old and New Pacific Capitals by Robert Louis Stevenson (1880)

In summer 1879, after a year of separation from his American lover, Fanny Osbourne, Stevenson realised he had to confront her and force her to choose between her unfaithful husband, Sam, and himself, the impecunious Scots writer. So he booked a berth on a steamer across the Atlantic from Glasgow to New York (a ten […]

Across the Plains by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879)

In August 1878, driven to distraction by the absence of his American lover, Fanny Osbourne, who had returned to California to patch things up with her estranged husband – Stevenson decided he could take no more of the emotional uncertainty in their relationship and, telling only his closest friends, bought a ticket on a transatlantic […]

The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson (1895)

Humanly speaking, it is a more important matter to play the fiddle, even badly, than to write huge works upon recondite subjects. Introduction This is the third of Stevenson’s short autobiographical travel books, following An Inland Voyage (1878) and Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). Stevenson had met in France and fallen in love with the […]

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879)

1. I have been after an adventure all my life, a pure dispassionate adventure, such as befell early and heroic voyagers… 2. Why any one should desire to visit either Luc or Cheylard is more than my much-inventing spirit can suppose. For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel […]

An Inland Voyage by Robert Louis Stevenson (1878)

1. Partly from the fact that there were no fewer than fifty-five locks between Brussels and Charleroi, we concluded that we should travel by train across the frontier, boats and all. Fifty-five locks in a day’s journey was pretty well tantamount to trudging the whole distance on foot, with the canoes upon our shoulders, an […]

South Sea Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson

An Oxford University Press volume which contains the works in Stevenson’s volume, Island Nights Entertainment and a few others, being: 1. The Bottle Imp (1891) Stevenson planned to write a volume of ghost and supernatural stories which, alas, like so many of his projects, he never got near to completing. This was to be one of the […]

Weir of Hermiston by Robert Louis Stevenson (1896)

Introduction Stevenson left Weir of Hermiston unfinished at his death on 3 December 1894. It is a return to the Scottish setting of Kidnapped (1886) but now told in a more mature, subtle, ironic style. It is difficult to credit that he crafted this recreation of Scottish landscape, life and language while actually living in the blistering […]

The Ebb-Tide by Robert Louis Stevenson (1894)

This is a blisteringly fierce novel, an intensely bitter and realistic depiction of the low-life criminality, desperate psychology and violence of white trash in the South Seas of the 1890s, which is also charged with a peculiarly epic and symbolic feel. A relatively short novel in just 12 chapters, The Ebb-Tide is the third of Stevenson’s […]