I would like to meet Robert Louis Stevenson, teller of tales

I would like to meet Robert Louis Stevenson, teller of tales
Robert Louis Stevenson

The theme for This Blogger Life this week is "who I would like to meet." That it's an author doesn't take much deciding. (I'll be reading my fellow bloggers' writing to see how many agree with me there.)

The trick is deciding which author. Dedicated readers might logically think that I'd choose Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or, if you've been paying attention since New Year's Eve, Robert Burns. Well, I'd certainly choose a Scot.

But I was very fond of another Scottish author even before those two giants came into my life, so he wins.

Given the chance to meet just one great Scottish author, I'd have to choose Robert Louis Stevenson.

His "A Child's Garden of Verses" makes strange reading -- in the sense that it makes me feel very grown up to be reading it all by myself. I heard it many, many times as a child. When I first read Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," I was very glad that the lifelong comforts of those verses were there for me. (Ah, the fun of an omnibus edition!)

His fellow Scot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wrote a wonderful book about books, "Through the Magic Door." In it, Doyle praised two of Stevenson's stories as among the greats in the language -- "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "The Pavilion on the Links." That was enough recommendation to send me running for a bookshop (Those were the days!) and a collection of the short stories of the man known as RLS. Doyle was right -- the two stories, while of course not equally scary, are of equally high quality.

Stevenson, a sickly man, eventually left his native Scotland for the South Seas. He wrote evocatively of the new surroundings and earned a new name from the Polynesians: Tusitala, or "teller of tales." In Honolulu, there's a road named after him -- called Tusitala, not Stevenson.

How did he come up with so many wonderful tales? How did he maintain such variety as well as quality? I'd love to pour him a cup of tea and chat... with a notebook in hand, of course.

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  • Yes! a writing reader's dream: to sit, drinking tea, "with a notebook in hand of course" with an admired, esteemed favorite author! I wonder what types of questions Stevenson might have for you in return?

  • In reply to folkloric:

    Oh my! Thank you! There will be good dreams tonight... or eventually, fictional ones. Watch this space!

  • Stevenson is one of my favorites too. Especially"Treasure Island". It is interesting to read his own account of how he wrote this classic. I have an edition printed by Easton Press that includes his 'How I Wrote This Book'. Therein Stevenson credits the following authors for supplying him with ideas: Defoe, Poe, Irving, Dr. Johnson, and Charles Kingsley.

    BTW, crossword addicts (like me) are very familiar with Stevenson's initials---RLS--- as an answer. The only other author I can think of whose initials are used a lot is T.S. Eliot.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Sometimes I think everyone should be judged on whether he can include a "How I Wrote This Book." Thanks.
    I agree, RLS' initials are great in crosswords. Sometimes when the clue is "Author's initials," I find myself thinking "Right -- where's the S?"

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