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Stevenson, Robert Louis

death historical kidnapped led

(British, 1850–94)

Stevenson was brought up in Edinburgh, son of a lighthouse engineer. Unsuited to the Scottish climate because of poor health, he travelled widely, finally settling in Samoa. His finest book was Weir of Hermiston (1896), on which he was working at the time of his death. It was, he said, ‘an attempt at a real historical novel, to present a whole field of time’. The story of Archie Weir, arrested for murder and sentenced to death by his own father, is the most psychologically complex of Stevenson's books. Move on to Treasure Island (1883), in which young Jim Hawkins's discovery of a treasure map leads him on a perilous voyage, along with a crew consisting largely of buccaneers led by the infamous Long John Silver. Kidnapped (1886), set during the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, tells how David Balfour is deprived of his inheritance, kidnapped, and bundled onto a slave-ship bound for the Carolinas. He is helped to escape by rebel Highlander, Alan Breck Stewart, and the two flee across Scotland. Illustrating the darker side of Stevenson's imagination is The Master of Ballantrae (1888). Here the lifelong feud between two brothers ends in the death of both. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) explores the double life led by a respectable doctor and his evil alter ego. Stevenson also wrote some excellent fables and short stories, including the horrific ‘Thrawn Janet’ (1881) about diabolic possession, and ‘The Song of the Morrow’ (1885), a sinister little fairy-tale about circular time.

Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper. See ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL, SUPERNATURAL, THRILLERS  CB

Stewart, J(ohn) I(nnes) M(acintosh). [next] [back] Sterne, Laurence

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