"The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson" by Robert Louis           Stevenson

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Volume Three, August 1879 - September 1882 Robert Louis Stevenson, Bradford A. Booth, Ernest Mehew

Publication date:
28 Dec 1994
Yale University Press
378 pages: 235 x 152mm

Robert Louis Stevenson, long recognized as a master storyteller and essayist, was also one of the finest and most delightful of letter writers. Yale University Press is now publishing the definitive edition of Stevenson's collected letters in eight handsomely produced volumes. The edition will contain nearly 2,800 letters, only 1,100 of which have been published before.

Volumes III and IV cover the period from August 1879 to June 1884. The six hundred letters tell for the first time the full story of Stevenson's reckless journey to California as an "amateur emigrant," during which he gained a wife but wrecked his health. They describe his return to Europe and his futile search to improve his health in Scotland, Switzerland, and France and reveal interesting aspects of the writing of Treasure Island, Virginibus Puerisque (his first volume of collected essays), and many poems later collected in Underwoods and in A Child's Garden of Verses.

Volumes V and VI cover the period from July 1884 to September 1890 and comprise over nine hundred letters. During this time, Stevenson lived as a chronic invalid for three years in Bournemouth, England; searched for improved health in the United States and the South Seas; and achieved fame and success with the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, and A Child's Garden of Verses. The letters convey Stevenson's courage and gaiety in the face of illness and his affection for his family and friends. They also reveal the devoted care given him by his wife, Fanny Stevenson.

Ernest Mehew's detailed annotation provides all the background necessary to fully enjoy Stevenson's letters.

Bradford A. Booth, who was professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles and who died in 1968, originated this project. Ernest Mehew, who has worked on this edition for more than twenty-five years, is widely recognized as the leading authority on Stevenson's life and work.

"[Stevenson] was a delightful letter-writer, and [these volumes] are offering a handsome salute to this aspect of his literary achievement."?Ian McIntyre, The Times (London)

"The outstanding literary event of the centenary [of Stevenson's death] will be the publication of the first six (out of eight) volumes of the Yale University Press edition of the Letters."?Janet Adam Smith, New York Review of Books

"[These volumes] are not of merely academic interest; they are, in a word, spell-binding, and no-one who responds to Stevenson will willingly miss them."?J.D.F. Jones, Financial Times

"These two volumes of his letters are restless with movement. . . . Wherever he goes, the letters take the reader too, hypnotically transforming places touched by the spirit of Stevenson. Their publication is as important as that of Boswell's journals; high praise indeed, and well merited."?Alan Taylor, The Scotsman

"The letters communicate the roller-coaster of [Stevenson's] hopes and fears with theatrical pace."?Jenni Calder, Scotland on Sunday

"Ernest Mehew's achievement in collating and reassembling these texts can hardly be overpraised."?Clair Harman, The Independent

"Booth and Mehew have done yeoman's work indeed. This is literary scholarship at its best, restoring key texts accurately and precisely, providing copious information and notes."?Frank Wilson, Knight-Ridder Newspapers