WELCOME to the website for Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2022. This year the November 13 birthday of the great Scottish author will be celebrated with a combination of physical and online events. A charismatic character recognisable instantly by his initials, RLS was the most versatile of writers – poet, essayist, travel writer, children’s author, historical novelist and humourist who also found time to pen some of the finest letters in the English language. His life story, from Edinburgh to the South Seas, was every bit as exciting as his novels – and he crammed it all into a life of 44 years. Details of RLS Day events will be posted here over the coming weeks in the run-up to November 13 and, if you have an idea for an event and want to be part of the celebration, email robertlouisstevenson@blueyonder.co.uk Meanwhile, you can enjoy some online highlights from last year’s events by selecting the 2021 programme from the Archive menu above. Happy RLS Day!

Let Me Tell You A Fable
Robert Louis Stevenson’s
Masterpieces of Storytelling

1.30PM FRIDAY NOVEMBER 11
SCOTTISH STORYTELLING CENTRE, 43-45 HIGH STREET, EDINBURGH

MANY have heard of Aesop’s Fables, but did you know the Treasure Island author wrote Fables, too? He called the Fable ‘a miniature division of creative literature’ and his are short-fiction masterpieces. Discover the Fables of Robert-Louis Stevenson with his namesake Robert-Louis Abrahamson as your guide, discussing the storytelling elements that make these mini-masterpieces so engaging and memorable. How, for example, would you follow these sentences? ‘The King was a man that stood well before the world; his smile was sweet as clover, but his soul withinsides was as little as a pea…’ Or how about ‘”I never read such an impious book,’” said the reader, throwing it on the floor…’ Inspired by such quirky tales, writers have created their own modern Fables for a competition supporting Scotland’s Year of Stories – now you can hear the three winners. Robert-Louis Abrahamson has spent his life sharing his enthusiasm for RLS, and his new book Aesop in the Fog gives you all the Fables with his expert commentary. For details click on the picture.

THE winner of the international modern fables competition organised by RLS Club member Martin White is The Young Man and the Therapist by CB McCall. You can now read it along with the runners-up, Stomach or Soul? by Helen Yuretich and School Clothes by Karis White, on the MrRLS.com website. Each is accompanied by an expert commentary by Robert-Louis Abrahamson, one of the judging panel chaired by Alan Taylor, with Rosemary Goring and Professor Natalie Jaeck. The winners were chosen from more than 450 entries worldwide.

David Balfour In Love

11AM SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12
WRITERS’ MUSEUM, LADY STAIR’S CLOSE, EDINBURGH

WHEN a fresh story by Robert Louis Stevenson first appeared 130 years ago, it marked a new development in the work of the great Scottish novelist. The tale that began serialisation in Atalanta magazine for young women was his first true love story. Following on the Boy’s Own adventure success of Kidnapped, he now allowed his hero David Balfour to fall in love – with the beautiful and brave Catriona Drummond. The result was the work he regarded as his finest, yet Catriona is still less well-known than the ever-popular Treasure Island. Join members and friends of the Robert Louis Stevenson Club for an hour of romance set in the turbulent times of Scotland in the wake of Culloden.

Robert Louis Stevenson and
the Goat Ranchers of Carmel Valley

2PM SATURDAY NOVEMBER 12
MONTEREY PUBLIC LIBRARY, CALIFORNIA

THE story of the two goat ranchers who saved the life of Stevenson when he fell gravely ill while camping at San Clemente Creek in 1879 will be told by Monterey Stevenson Club historian Lindy Perez when the club holds its annual ‘Unbirthday’ party for RLS at Monterey Public Library, with the added attraction of an ‘unbirthday’ cake. For details and to register, if you are able to attend, click on the picture of the goat ranch

Robert Louis Stevenson Poems and Art Workshop

11AM-1PM SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13
CITY ART CENTRE, MARKET STREET, EDINBURGH

HAPPY Birthday to Robert Louis Stevenson, born on this day in 1850 in Edinburgh. Come and join us at the City Art Centre with Katelyn our Learning and Programmes Assistant for a new and exciting free workshop looking at the poems of RLS. We will be sharing his story and telling how he become one of Scotland’s best-known writers.  Create fun, colourful illustrations inspired by his poems for you take home and treasure. This workshop is open to anyone who is looking to learn more about one of Scotland’s much-loved writers. This workshop is designed for families working together to reflect on his life and writings. There might be some poems or novels you know!  No need to book, just drop into the City Art Centre between 11am – 1pm.  All you need is your imagination. 

Music Begins Where Words End…

2PM SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13
WRITERS’ MUSEUM, LADY STAIR’S CLOSE, EDINBURGH

JOIN friends of RLS at the Writers’ Museum for a fun free afternoon of music and words, also inviting audience members to participate with reading a short poem or literary extract by their favourite writer. This free event marks the birthday of Robert Louis Stevenson, the 400th anniversary of Lady Stair’s House, and Remembrance Sunday. Performances will feature ‘The Poets’ Fiddle, made by local nature conservationist and luthier Steve Burnett to mark Robert Louis Stevenson’s 170th anniversary in 2020. You will also hear, the Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon violins, endorsed as Envoys for Peace, Reconciliation and Respect and made from a living Edinburgh sycamore that still grows in Craiglockhart, the former shell shock hospital where in 1917 the two WW1 anti-war poets met. Music by award-winning musicians, Scottish fiddler Alastair Savage and cellist Alice Allen, along with brother and sister violinists 14-year-old Viktor and 12-year-old Klara Seifert

Myth or Mistress, a Real Life Costume Drama?

7PM SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13
TYPEWRONGER BOOKS, 4A HADDINGTON PLACE, EDINBURGH

WAS Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Catriona the story of a real-life love affair, dressed up as costume drama? Thirty years after his death, a biographer claimed RLS – pictured here in 18th-century dress – was involved with a girl he met in Edinburgh’s brothel district and wanted to marry, until forced to give her up by his respectable parents. Her name was allegedly an anglicised version of his heroine’s, Catriona Drummond – but other biographers dismissed ‘Kate Drummond’ as a myth. Then The Sunday Times commissioned journalist and biographer Jeremy Hodges to check the story out. His researches uncovered a wealth of circumstantial evidence and curious coincidences, but are they enough to convince you? Hear him out, then decide for yourself at this free event.

Who was the Bonnie Mally Lee?

AT the start of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Catriona, David Balfour goes shopping in Edinburgh with a bank porter to guard his wealth. In the street he bumps into the beautiful Catriona Drummond and is instantly smitten – but the porter is less impressed, accusing him of ‘cleikin’ up wi’ baubeejoes!’ (going with prostitutes).  Angrily, David tells him to ‘keep your foul mouth shut’ – whereupon the porter resorts to muttering this song, about a celebrated Edinburgh belle who would parade down the Royal Mile, allowing her outer garments to come adrift – to the consternation of her many admirers. Eventually Mally, or Mary Sleigh, married the Lord Lyon and at 19 became a respectable wife.. Yet even in her forties she was the belle of the ball at a dance at Holyrood Palace in 1745, when she danced with Bonnie Prince Charlie. To hear the song, click on her picture.

Remediating Robert Louis
Stevenson’s Pacific Fiction

7PM SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13
WRITERS’ MUSEUM ONLINE

THREE South Sea tales by Robert Louis Stevenson have inspired an international project bringing his work to new readers. It will produce a multilingual graphic adaptation of The Beach of Falesa, The Bottle Imp and The Isle of Voices, first published together in 1893 as Island Nights Entertainments. The project will also commission new poetry by indigenous Pacific authors and create new teaching resources for use in Scotland, Samoa and Hawai’i, plus a documentary film exploring contemporary Samoan perspectives on Stevenson. To learn more from the research team from Edinburgh and Chester universities who visited Hawai’i, Tahiti and the Tuamotu Archipelago in July, click on the picture and use the Book Now button to sign up for this free online event. Or view the recorded version which will be posted after the event on the City Art Centre Facebook page.

Dr Jekyll meets Tom Sawyer – on a Park Bench

WHAT would you give to have overheard a park-bench conversation between Robert Louis Stevenson Stevenson and Mark Twain in New York in the spring of 1888? The best-selling authors of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer walked and talked and spent several hours seated on a bench in Washington Square, near the St Stephen Hotel where Stevenson was staying. Their words are lost in time but now you can enjoy five podcasts based on their likely topics of conversation. Created during the Covid lockdown, the podcasts feature Karl Bockemeier as Twain and Vincent Guy as Stevenson – Karl was born in Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain grew up, while Vincent lives in Stevenson’s childhood holiday retreat of North Berwick. A new podcast will be posted daily, starting on Monday November 7 – to hear each one, click on the picture and scroll down. The podcasts will be available also on platforms such as Spotify.

Enjoy a Treasure Island Aboard Fingal

A SPECIAL RLS cocktail has been devised to celebrate Stevenson’s family connection with lighthouse building around Scotland. The ‘Treasure Island’ cocktail will be launched on Friday 11th November and available all weekend to celebrate RLS Day at the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bar on board the former lighthouse tender Fingal. The ship, which once served the lighthouses built by Stevenson’s grandfather, father, uncles and cousins, is now a luxury floating hotel in Leith – for more, click on the picture. The restaurant expects to be busy on RLS Day but is now accepting bookings. Meanwhile, cocktail lovers can try mixing their own ‘Treasure Island’ as follows:

25mls of Glenkinchie 
25mls of creme de cacao 
25mls of Tia Maria 
A dash of Gold Treasure edible lustre dust.

A Fortunate Voyager with friends the world over

CovershotAS one of the world’s best-loved authors, Robert Louis Stevenson continues to inspire people from all walks of life, from writers and film-makers to academics, politicians and many other fellow travellers on life’s voyage. A unique collection celebrating the centenary of the Robert Louis Stevenson Club brings together tributes from 60 such travellers, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, crime writers Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, children’s author Michael Morpurgo, and Sir Paul McCartney, a Treasure Island fan since childhood. The book is the perfect accompaniment to RLS Day or as a Christmas gift to anyone who loves Robert Louis Stevenson. Copies, price £9.99, can be ordered by emailing info@typewronger.com or by calling at Typewronger Books, 4A Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE.

Growing the Garden of Verses

OUR RLS Garden of Verses produced a bumper crop last year, and we would love to hear more. If you would like to add to it by recording your favourite Stevenson poem, email it as a sound file to robertlouisstevenson@blueyonder.co.uk There’s no need to confine yourself to Stevenson’s poems for children, but please check out last year’s poems to avoid duplication before making your choice from the rich variety penned by RLS. To enjoy last year’s crop, click here.

 

Skull.