Robert Louis Stevenson was an author of many classic novels and his literary success became popular when he wrote the mystery called The Strange Case of Dr.
The chapter ends with, “I found out that the lives of all the honest hands on board depended on me, and me alone.” Another example of suspense in Treasure Island is when the pirates and the honest hands are fighting and you do not know what the outcome will be.
In 1983, Nick Rankin read Stevenson’s Fables to the blind Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and was commissioned by Faber to write his first book, Dead Man’s Chest: travels after Robert Louis Stevenson, which took him from Scotland to Samoa. While writing it, he first met the civil servant Ernest Mehew, who was editing the definitive 8-volume Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson for Yale University Press and knew more about the Scottish writer than anyone else on earth.
Given these two prime luxuries, the nature of the country where we are to live is, I had almost said, indifferent; after that inside the garden, we can construct a country of our own. Several old trees, a considerable variety of level, several well–grown hedges to divide our garden into provinces, a good extent of old well–set turf, and thickets of shrubs and ever–greens to be cut into and cleared at the new owner’s pleasure, are the qualities to be sought for in your chosen land. Nothing is more delightful than a succession of small lawns, opening one out of the other through tall hedges; these have all the charm of the old bowling–green repeated, do not require the labour of many trimmers, and afford a series of changes. You must have much lawn against the early summer, so as to have a great field of daisies, the year’s morning frost; as you must have a wood of lilacs, to enjoy to the full the period of their blossoming. Hawthorn is another of the Spring’s ingredients; but it is even best to have a rough public lane at one side of your enclosure which, at the right season, shall become an avenue of bloom and odour. The old flowers are the best and should grow carelessly in corners. Indeed, the ideal fortune is to find an old garden, once very richly cared for, since sunk into neglect, and to tend, not repair, that neglect; it will thus have a smack of nature and wildness which skilful dispositions cannot overtake. The gardener should be an idler, and have a gross partiality to the kitchen plots: an eager or toilful gardener misbecomes the garden landscape; a tasteful gardener will be ever meddling, will keep the borders raw, and take the bloom off nature. Close adjoining, if you are in the south, an olive–yard, if in the north, a swarded apple–orchard reaching to the stream, completes your miniature domain; but this is perhaps best entered through a door in the high fruit–wall; so that you close the door behind you on your sunny plots, your hedges and evergreen jungle, when you go down to watch the apples falling in the pool. It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves. Nor must the ear be forgotten: without birds a garden is a prison–yard. There is a garden near Marseilles on a steep hill–side, walking by which, upon a sunny morning, your ear will suddenly be ravished with a burst of small and very cheerful singing: some score of cages being set out there to sun their occupants. This is a heavenly surprise to any passer–by; but the price paid, to keep so many ardent and winged creatures from their liberty, will make the luxury too dear for any thoughtful pleasure–lover. There is only one sort of bird that I can tolerate caged, though even then I think it hard, and that is what is called in France the Bec–d’Argent. I once had two of these pigmies in captivity; and in the quiet, hire house upon a silent street where I was then living, their song, which was not much louder than a bee’s, but airily musical, kept me in a perpetual good humour. I put the cage upon my table when I worked, carried it with me when I went for meals, and kept it by my head at night: the first thing in the morning, these maestrini would pipe up. But these, even if you can pardon their imprisonment, are for the house. In the garden the wild birds must plant a colony, a chorus of the lesser warblers that should be almost deafening, a blackbird in the lilacs, a nightingale down the lane, so that you must stroll to hear it, and yet a little farther, tree–tops populous with rooks.
It was also a period of much traveling. His and Fanny's various temporary residences in England, Switzerland, and southern France had more to do with his probable tuberculosis (it was never diagnosed as such during his lifetime) than with his love for travel. It was at Braemar in Scotland that was begun, sparked by a map that Stevenson had drawn for the entertainment of his twelve-year-old stepson Lloyd Osbourne. Stevenson had quickly imagined a pirate adventure story to accompany the drawing, and a friend arranged for it to be serialized in the boys' magazine , where it appeared from October 1881 to January 1882. By the end of the 1880s, it had become one of the most popular and widely read books of the period. was supposed to have stayed awake all night to read it, and Stevenson, no supporter of Gladstone, snapped upon learning the news that the man would have done better "to attend to the imperial affairs of England." In the seven-year period from 1880 to 1887 Stevenson's output also included essays on the craft of fiction. In these, in which the reader might expect Stevenson to exhibit a more objective attitude than he had in the travelogues, the author's cultivated discursiveness and rambling rhetoric are not always successful.
In the last two years of his life Stevenson's letters to his friends in Great Britain increasingly revealed his longing for Scotland and the frustration he felt at the thought of never seeing his homeland again. To S. R. Crockett he wrote, "I shall never see Auld Reekie. I shall never set my foot again upon the heather. Here I am until I die, and here will I be buried. The word is out and the doom written." It may have been this preoccupation with Scotland and its history that made so powerful a tale. With its theme of filial rebellion, its evocation of Scotland's topography, language, and legends, it is a masterly fragment and the most Scottish of all his works. , a biographical work that recounts his grandfather's engineering feats, reveals that Stevenson was trying to find a bridge back to his own family and finally coming to terms with his earlier rejection of the engineering profession. In he depicts his grandfather as a scientist-artist, linking his own growing objectivity in his style of writing to the technical yet imaginative work of his forebears. Increasingly Stevenson's art embraced more of the everyday world and drew on his experiences in the South Seas for its strength. His South Seas work, both nonfiction and fiction, gradually grew more powerful than the earlier works for which he is, ironically, more famous. When he died of a stroke on 3 December 1894 in his house at Vailima, Samoa, he was at the height of his creative powers.
Stevenson had gathered material on Samoa for but later realized that he had enough for more than one book. The Samoan political situation in the late 1880s and early 1890s was complex. Historically the Samoans had chosen a king from among several tribal high chiefs. Because of friction over trade in the islands, Germany, England, and the United States had attempted but aborted a plan to divide the islands into protectorates. In 1888 the Germans banished Laupepa, one of three tribal chiefs in contention for kingship, the other two being Tamasese and Mataafa. After a short war between the other two chiefs (in which some Germans died) the three Western nations formed a tripartite consulate and established Laupepa as king of Samoa and Mataafa as vice-king. Arguing that Mataafa had, by rights and power, more claim to kingship than his rival, Stevenson advocated Mataafa's cause in and continued writing letters to several British newspapers well into 1894, stirring up a hornet's nest of controversy for himself in Samoa. His book earned him the resentment of the Germans and threats of deportation from harassed British officials. When the Germans banished Mataafa to the Marshall Islands in 1893, Stevenson's agitation could do no more than secure the release of some of Mataafa's supporters who were jailed in Apia.
Stevenson detailed his three cruises and adventures in the letters he wrote to his friends, exulting in his newfound health, relating incidents of life on the open sea, and capturing the flavor of life lived away from Western civilization. From 1889 to 1894 his attitude toward the islanders in his letters gradually changed from paternalism to sympathy for their troubles with Western imperialism. He studied South Seas politics to espouse plans that he believed would ensure harmony between the whites and the indigenous races of the South Pacific. The naiveté of his early letters is absent from his remarkable book of essays on the various island groups and their peoples--. Written from material he had collected on the three cruises, the book reveals a much shrewder observer of human nature and politics than the man who had written . He viewed the islanders as humans who were not without a valid culture of their own. They were not all cannibals, nor were they all noble savages. As for politics, he advocated self-rule for the islands, a view that did not always make him popular with contemporary travelers and settlers in the Pacific. But he was never predictable. While he was in Hawaii, for example, Stevenson felt himself drawn to the royalists--those who wanted the United States out of Hawaii. But he resisted becoming involved in their intrigues because he did not fully trust the royalists themselves.
These are all themes Robert Louis Stevenson addresses in his novel, “The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” Robert Louis Stevenson presents the view that no human has the capacity to be completely good or completely bad.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Club is for everyone. Among our members we have academics of international standing, but also those who have recently discovered RLS for the first time and simply want to know more about him.