The Friday Fillip

Since today seems to be a quiz Friday, here’s an easy one to kick off this Friday Fillip. Who is this debonaire man?


The Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, or RLS as he’s known by aficionados, has a substantial website all to himself, known, unsurprisingly as the Robert Louis Stevenson Website. Here you’ll find photographs of the man (and boy), because Stevenson, of course, who lived from 1850 to 1894, was born during the first years of widespread public photography. You’ll learn that, like Samuel Pepys, he tootled on the flageolet — no, not that flageolet — and actually composed some works for it. And you can see the route he took in his travels through Europe, the United States (and not Canada), and across the Pacific to the South Seas, where he died.

Most of all, of course, you can read about his writing. He is famous for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped, and Treasure Island, which for me was his best, with its tale of “fifteen men on the dead man’s chest,” Long John Silver, Captain Flint, and the dreadful Blind Pew with his tap-tap-tapping. If you haven’t read these — or haven’t re-read them recently — you might want to do so in the virtual books provided on the site, turn-the-page photographs of actual first editions. Or you might prefer to let Librivox read them to you as you sit in traffic, ready to daydream (J&H, K, TI).

But RLS wrote in just about every genre that there was — essays, travel writing, short stories, poetry — perhaps you were read to from A Child’s Garden of Versesplays and biography, as well as thirteen novels and romances.

There’s a lot more on the site about this passionate man who fought with Samoans for freedom from colonial rule; who married “an independent American woman” in Paris, separated from her husband and two children; and who trained in his youth for lighthouse engineering and also studied law. Bounce around the RLS site for fun or scan the really helpful site map if you’re interested in something particular. Let yourself get carried away.


  1. Surprised that readers haven’t tumbled to the Canadian connection here, which is that in Scotland the Stevenson family was famous as the great innovators in lighthouse design, and that Stevenson designed lights were recycled to Newfoundland where they can be seen to this day at Cape Bonavista, Rose Blanche and Ferryland

    Slaw readers may be captivated by the Seward prosecution for duck hunting on lighthouse property, which reads like something out of the 1928 Rockbound by Frank Parker Day [yes I know that’s Nova Scotia].

    And here’s a picture of the Cape Bonavista light designed by RLS’ father and uncle.

    RLS light