Events Programme

ROBERT Louis Stevenson Day celebrates the life and work of a much-loved Scottish author with a series of events on and around his birthday. We hope you will find something here to enjoy…

Sunday November 11

Sing Me A Song

A SHOW exploring the life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson with stories and songs, through which the audience can experience the wit and wisdom, the adventures and heartbreaks of Scotland’s best-loved author. Performed by Judy Turner and Neil Adam on a special visit from Australia, where RLS enjoyed visits, albeit plagued by ill health, on jaunts away from his home in Samoa.
Free, unticketed at the Writers’ Museum, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh

Tuesday November 13 – RLS Day

In Stevenson’s Footsteps

FOLLOW in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson as Ian Logan of the Stevenson Way leads a guided walk from the Hawes Inn, South Queensferry, immortalised in Kidnapped, along the coastal path to Cramond. This is an easy and lovely walk of five miles along quiet paths, following the route that RLS himself took many times in the past. Come along and enjoy a tranquil part of the Forth and learn something of what RLS did here. Meet at the Hawes Inn for 10.00am. Whilst booking is not essential and the cost is free, it would be helpful to contact Ian and let him know you are coming: 0141 777 7006 or

A Walk Through Stevenson’s Childhood

COLINTON was an important part of Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood and inspired much of A Child’s Garden of Verses. As a boy he would often visit Colinton Manse, home of his grandfather the Rev Dr Lewis Balfour, where many young Balfour cousins would enjoy extended stays in the care of their Aunt Jane. To celebrate RLS Day, Colinton Community Conservation Trust director Duncan Campbell will lead a Guided Walk along the RLS Poetry Trail to the statue of RLS as a boy outside Colinton Parish Church – where The Swing Cafe serves coffee and light lunches.
Free event but places are limited and prior booking is essential by emailing  Meet at Woodhall Road, opposite Dreghorn Loan.  Parking in nearby Westgarth Avenue.  Buses  10, 16, 45 and 400

Edinburgh Gothic

gothicWITH Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson set a new standard in Gothic horror. To celebrate his birthday, this special event features a series of talks by two of Edinburgh’s own Gothicists and special guests from the University of Sheffield’s Centre for the History of the Gothic.  Featuring The History of Doubling in the Gothic with reference to RLS and James Hogg,  the New Woman Gothic of Fanny Stevenson, and Shirley Jackson and American Gothic fiction. To attend this free event, register here
University of Edinburgh, Teaching Studio LG.07, David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh

12 noon – 5pm
Stevenson In The States

States pastiche2JOIN members and friends of the Robert Louis Stevenson Club for a series of readings celebrating Stevenson’s close association with the United States of America – the Land of the Free into which he married, risking all for love to wed Fanny Osbourne in California. From Paris, where RLS formed friendships with struggling American artists and first met Fanny, her young son and teenage daughter, we travel by emigrant ship to New York and across the plains to San Francisco and Monterey before camping out as Silverado Squatters at a disused mine on the slopes of Mount St Helena. From there we brave the bitter cold of winter in a wooden cottage at Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks before heading south once more to San Francisco, sailing out through the Golden Gate to a new life of adventure in the South Seas. Free, unticketed drop-by event – sample a little or stay all day
Central Library (Mezzanine Floor), George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

No Safe Anchorage

anchorageAS a writer of historical fiction, Robert Louis Stevenson produced three classic novels – Kidnapped, Catriona and The Master of Ballantrae. After carefully researching the history, he featured real people such as Alan Breck Stuart, James Mor Drummond or Lord Advocate Prestongrange in his narrative, rubbing shoulders with fictional characters such as David Balfour or James Durie. Little did he know that one day he would feature likewise in No Safe Anchorage, a new historical novel by Skye-based Liz MacRae Shaw, whose central, fictional character Tom Masters encounters RLS twice – as a boy accompanying his father to oversee the building of a lighthouse, and as a successful novelist nearing the end of his life in Samoa. Join Liz in a discussion of fact and fiction with Stevenson biographer Jeremy Hodges, who is not meant to make things up but whose book Mrs Jekyll & Cousin Hyde tells the true story behind the creation of Stevenson’s gothic horror masterpiece.
Free, unticketed at The Writers’ Museum, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh.

At Home With Robert Louis Stevenson

singasongENJOY a special RLS Day performance by  Neil Adam and Judy Turner , fresh from an eight-concert tour of the Pacific, culminating in an appearance at Vailima in Samoa, RLS’s last home. Here in the drawing room of RLS’s main home in Edinburgh they will be presenting Sing Me A Song, a performance made up of Stevenson’s own lyrics set to music, with extracts from his own letters and those of others, to give us an intimate portrait of the man and his life in words, music and pictures.
17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh. Tickets price £25 include wine and canapes in the interval and are limited to 30 places, bookable via Eventbrite  here 

The Misadventures of John Nicholson

MurderFinalCroppedROUND off Robert Louis Stevenson Day with readings and a discussion centring on RLS’s frequently overlooked comic masterpiece, published by Typewronger Books in a new edition showcasing illustrations by local artist Joanna Robson. Written as a merry tale for Christmas, the Misadventures reveal the playful Stevenson at his best in this most autobiographical of stories, set throughout in his home city of Edinburgh. Typewronger Books proprietor Tom Hodges will lead the readings, with a revealing commentary by Stevenson biographer Jeremy Hodges, author of an introduction to the new edition.
Free, unticketed at Typewronger Books, 4A Haddington Place, Leith Walk, Edinburgh

Learning On Track: From A Railway Carriage

PUPILS from primary schools at each end of the Forth Bridge will be celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson Day with two events based on the RLS poem From A Railway Carriage, taken from A Child’s Garden of Verses. They have been preparing words, sets and drawings for a short animated film which will be previewed at special RLS birthday event at North Queensferry Primary. The project has been delivered by Anim8s, a charity which runs animation projects in schools and communities. As well as reciting the Stevenson original, the film preview will feature a modern interpretation of the poem based on the observations of the children during the travelling classroom sessions earlier this year. There will also be a birthday cake! Following the events there will be an exhibition featuring the film and the story of the project at railway stations on The Artline, a network of creative spaces and galleries on the Fife Circle Line.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the birthday event at 1.45-2.30pm, North Queensferry Primary School, The Brae, North Queensferry, next to North Queensferry station. Free but please contact Martin Ayres beforehand on 07968 773 918 or email

A French Connection

SCHOOL pupils in the French town of Châtillon-sur-Loire will celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson Day with an online game devised by their teacher Christelle Metivier-Liaigre. First they must read the Epilogue To The Inland Voyage to learn how RLS was arrested and flung in the cells at Châtillon on suspicion of being a German spy travelling without papers. Then they must answer questions correctly to access the game in which they have to free RLS by finding his passport – and prove his identity as a great writer by reading from Treasure Island and translating an extract from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. For a flavour of the game click here To play it click here
College Pièrre Dézarnaulds, Châtillon-sur-Loire 

Wednesday November 14

Stevenson Overseas

LIKE Burns, Stevenson was an internationalist, with a wide circle of friends around the world. France was a second home to him and he spoke the language fluently, as well as reading many French authors in the original version. He married into the USA, acquiring a ready-made American family, and spent his latter years  in Samoa, where he lived with an extended family of Samoan staff at Vailima, rapidly absorbing their language and culture. Enjoy lunch with the Royal Over-Seas League at this special RLS Week open event with Stevenson biographer Jeremy Hodges as the guest speaker.
Two-course lunch plus coffee, price £25 (£20 for ROSL or Robert Louis Stevenson Club members), at the Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh. Book by calling the Royal Scots Club on 0131 556 4270

Bright Is The Ring Of Words

AN Evening of Performances inspired by Songs Of Travel, Robert Louis Stevenson’s lyrical poetry of travel and the life of the ‘vagabond’. Edinburgh Napier University’s first year MFA Directors and Playwrights will stage adaptations of Stevenson’s timeless verse, performed by actors from the university’s BA Acting programme. With a highly international cohort of writers and directors from Spain, Australia, and America as well as England and Scotland, the evening will offer a fittingly global range of perspectives on this most restless of writers. Free event but please register beforehand here
Chalmers Church, 69B Morningside Road, Edinburgh

Saturday November 17

The Scenery Of Dreams

Lachlan blurbRETRACING the footsteps of David Balfour and Alan Breck from Mull to Edinburgh inspired author Lachlan Munro to explore Stevenson’s own inspiration in writing Kidnapped, one of the world’s best-loved adventure stories. The Scenery Of Dreams shows how the novel began life as a history book and chronicles real characters and events, even down to the smallest detail. It also gives a glimpse of Stevenson’s personality, experience, knowledge, and the downright obsessions he poured into it. Hence Munro asserts that when reading Kidnapped, and its sequel Catriona, we are walking through Stevenson’s entire life. The new book is full of Highland tales, folklore and insights into a vanished world of clan warfare, and offers a living, breathing portrait of Stevenson himself. Join the author for a glass of wine and a talk, following which he will be happy to sign copies if required.
Blackwell’s Bookshop, 53-62 South Bridge, Edinburgh

Until November 28

Stevenson On Erraid

stevstampA UNIQUE exhibition celebrating the link between Robert Louis Stevenson and the island of Erraid is on show this week in Stornoway. The 6°WEST group of artists – Anne Devine, David Faithfull, Alicia Hendrick and Mhairi Killin – took up residency in cottages constructed when the Stevenson family used Erraid as a base for building the Skerryvore and Dubh Artach lighthouses. There they created a set of four unique postage stamps and prints which focus on the life and works of RLS and his connection to the island where he stayed for three weeks in 1870, and which he would feature in his novel Kidnapped.
The Erraid Residency exhibition is at An Lanntair in Stornoway until November 28. For more details click here