Millions of readers throughout the world continue to enjoy Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Child's Garden of Verses, and other books by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). A celebrated author in many different fields of literature, Stevenson is also recognized as a highly engaging and prolific correspondent: he penned over 2,800 letters, which are contained in eight critically acclaimed volumes published by Yale University Press. In this book, 317 of Stevenson's most interesting and revealing letters represent each stage of his mature life. With a linking narrative and full annotation, Ernest Mehew sets the letters in the context of Stevenson's remarkable life. Beginning with the days of his troubled youth in Edinburgh, Stevenson's letters go on to tell of his love for Frances Sitwell, a beautiful, older married woman; a reckless journey to California in pursuit of Fanny Osbourne, the woman who became his wife; their worldwide but vain search for a healthy place to live; and a period of adventure in the South Seas, where Stevenson wrote some of his best work and became passionately involved in Samoan life.
The letters show the author's zest for living despite daunting illnesses, his struggles with his own writing, his literary tastes, and his affection for his friends. Stevenson writes in many moods, ranging from playful and witty to deeply serious. Better than any biography ever could, these letters in Stevenson's own words tell the real story of his life.
Ernest Mehew is a retired English civil servant, who worked on the full edition of the letters for more than twenty-five years. He is a leading authority on Stevenson and in 1997 was awarded an honorary doctorate by Edinburgh University in recognition of his literary scholarship.