Events Programme 2017

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…

Thursday November 9

The Woman Behind Jekyll & Hyde

WHY did Robert Louis Stevenson dedicate Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to his cousin Katharine de Mattos? When it came to writing horror stories, there were not truly one but truly two Stevensons and Katharine played a key role in the creation of her cousin’s sensational best-seller. Yet her own tale of duality has lain neglected and forgotten under a male pseudonym for the past 125 years. In Mrs Jekyll & Cousin Hyde, Jeremy Hodges reveals the untold story of a single parent who supported her family as one of the first female journalists after RLS rescued her from an unhappy marriage.
Lighthouse Books, 43-45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. Book here.

Saturday November 11

1pm to 4pm
Kidnapped Parrot Hunt and RLS Pirate Fun Day

AHOY all Pirates! To celebrate RLS Day (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Birthday) Forth Bridges Tours have organised a free kids Kidnapped Parrot Hunt throughout 14 businesses in South Queensferry. Parrots have been kidnapped and hidden around the town and it’s the task of the young Pirates to seek them out and free them. The Hunt culminates at Queensferry’s Library to join in the Library’s RLS Pirate Fun Day (2pm to 4pm) celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson’s connection with Queensferry. There will be family crafts, as well as readings from some of Stevenson’s books such as Treasure Island. (You may even want to take one of these books home). Kids have the chance to win a Family Ticket to Deep Sea World, plus there is a Best-Dressed Pirate Competition for the kids and the local businesses taking part, which will be judged at 4pm in the Library by Robert Louis Stevenson! Fun and prizes galore, me hearties! Free to enter for kids of all ages (dressing as a Pirate is optional). Pirates must reach the library by 4pm to take part in the Best Dressed Pirate Competition. Each entry has the chance to win a Family Ticket to Deep Sea World. Free event, turn up whenever you like.

Saturday November 11

RLS – Makar

LOOKING squarely at Stevenson the poet, RLS – Makar is compiled and written by Michael Daviot, author of two highly acclaimed plays about Robert Louis Stevenson (Ultimate Islands and Hyde & Seek). The poems are every bit as vivid and entertaining as Stevenson’s novels, stories and letters, and Michael uses them to illustrate the story of the author’s life and travels as he moved from Edinburgh to America to England and to his final home in the South Seas.
The Writers’ Museum, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh. Free but booking essential, call 0131 529 4901.

Monday November 13 – RLS Day

Appy Birthday, RLS!

TO  celebrate RLS Day,  a dedicated team at Edinburgh University is releasing a new LitLong app which you can use to find your way around sites familiar to Robert Louis Stevenson in Edinburgh. The app gives you each location marked on a map, and also the relevant quotation from Stevenson’s writing. The LitLong project is also releasing three special RLS activities – RLS Create, giving instructions for making an RLS path around the city;  RLS Missing Manuscripts, a competition for literary sleuths with £50 of book tokens to be won, and RLS Pockets of Doom, a fun activity for school students and their teachers. For details keep checking LitLong at and keep an eye out for the free app at the App Store or Google Play.

Walk The Stevenson Way

AS an alternative to attempting David Balfour and Alan Breck’s full hike across the heather from Mull to Edinburgh, why not join Ian Logan of The Stevenson Way, , on this easy and lovely five-mile walk. Follow in Robert Louis Stevenson’s footsteps from the Hawes Inn at South Queensferry, immortalised in Kidnapped, along the coastal path to Cramond. Enjoy a tranquil part of the Forth and learn something of what RLS did there. Meet at the Hawes Inn at 10am. While booking is not essential and the cost is free, it would be helpful to let Ian know you are coming: 0141 777 7006 or

Story Of The Door

AWARD-WINNING author Catherine MacPhail has been a lifelong fan of  Robert Louis Stevenson. Her latest book, The Evil Within, is an imagining of Henry Jekyll’s life as a young boy. She will be visiting Oxgangs Primary School on RLS Day to celebrate the book and its Stevenson connection – a fitting venue, given that the school has a very special door on display which carries the signature of Robert Louis Stevenson himself! For those not lucky enough to be pupils at Oxgangs Primary, Cathy’s book is available from all good bookshops, along with a new ‘super readable’ Barrington Stoke edition of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, specially designed to appeal to youngsters who do not normally enjoy reading.

RLS: The French Connection

CELEBRATE Louis’s 167th birthday with this collection of poems, stories and travelogues reflecting Stevenson’s love of France, performed by members of the RLS Club and our friends from the European Network In The Footsteps Of Robert Louis Stevenson. Highlights include a selection in English and French from A Child’s Garden of Verses, which Louis began writing in Marseilles, plus extracts (in English) from An Inland Voyage and Travels With A Donkey and The Treasure of Franchard, a story set in Grèz-sur-Loing. It’s a free, drop-by event, so turn up whenever you like and enjoy for as long as you like. You can even bring your own baguette or
packed lunch.
Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Free, unticketed.


Mrs Jekyll & Cousin Hyde

WHEN biographer Jeremy Hodges first opened a slim volume by ‘Theodor Hertz-Garten’ in the reading room of the National Library of Scotland, he was stunned to find a dark tale of duality that seemed to echo Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And hiding behind the male pseudonym was Robert Louis Stevenson’s cousin Katharine de Mattos, to whom he dedicated his Gothic masterpiece. This set Jeremy on a trail of discovery revealed in a new book, piecing together the close but complicated relationship between an elusive woman and her
famous cousin.
National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Register for
free tickets here.

Afternoon Tea at Heriot Row with
Robert Louis Stevenson and Jorge Luis Borges

IN 2017, author Kevin MacNeil travelled to Argentina to explore the literary influence Robert Louis Stevenson had on the 20th century postmodernist Jorge Luis Borges. He recovered an unpublished anthology of Stevenson’s work selected by Borges and his friend Adolfo Bioy Casares, now brought into print for the first time by Polygon. This unique anthology offers a rich insight into Stevenson’s impact on Borges’s work, and on literature in general, and sheds a new Borgesian light on Edinburgh’s much-loved author. Join Kevin for afternoon tea and cake at Stevenson’s Edinburgh home, as he talks about the relationship between the two authors, and how there are always new ways to read Stevenson.
17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, early booking advisable, £18.65 per person, click here.

Strange History: The Precarious Path to Jekyll & Hyde

JOIN poet Jane Bonnyman (An Ember from the Fire: Poems on the Life of Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson) and author Sian Mackay (The House on the Chine: Robert Louis Stevenson at Skerryvore) as they embark upon Robert Louis Stevenson’s odyssey from Edinburgh to Samoa via California, Davos and Bournemouth. Through poetry and prose, you are invited to celebrate Stevenson’s achievement as a writer (despite fragile health), his marriage to Fanny Van de Grift, the creation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and his other remarkable adventures.
Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Free, unticketed.

An Evening With Jane Rogers

EDINBURGH Napier University presents an evening with award-winning novelist Jane Rogers on BBC Radio 4 Robert Louis Stevenson adaptations, along with performances from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Edinburgh Napier University’s Acting for Stage and Screen students.

Jane Rogers is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and radio dramatist. She is author of nine novels, including The Testament of Jessie Lamb, Man-Booker longlisted and winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award 2012. Her story collection Hitting Trees with Sticks was shortlisted for the 2013 Edgehill Award, and the title story was a BBC National Short story award finalist.

Other works include Mr Wroe’s Virgins (which she dramatised for the BAFTA-nominated BBC drama series), Her Living Image (Somerset Maugham Award) and Promised Lands (Writers Guild Best Fiction Award). She has written original drama for Radio 4, and adapted numerous novels for the Classic Serial slot. Her latest novel is Conrad and Eleanor.

Jane is Emerita Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She teaches Short Story for Faber Academy. Her connection with Robert Louis Stevenson began as an avid reader in her childhood. As a writer, in December 2016 she adapted The Ebb Tide and The Beach at Falesa as two hours of Classic Serial, starring David Tennant, for Radio 4. She wrote about the adaptation, and Stevenson in Samoa, in a Rereading article for the Guardian.
Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Register for free tickets here.

Two Sides of Jekyll & Hyde

NOVELIST Anthony O’Neill, creator of the Strange Tale sequel Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek, in discussion with Jeremy Hodges, author of Mrs Jekyll & Cousin Hyde. How does a writer of fiction come up with a strikingly imaginative way of continuing Stevenson’s dark tale? And how does a biographer set about telling the true story behind the RLS original?
Blackwell’s Bookshop, 53-59 South Bridge, Edinburgh. Register for free tickets here.

Wednesday November 15

Stevenson And The Devil Inside

OLD Nick manifests himself in many and subtle ways in Stevenson’s writing, sometimes coming too close for our comfort, but there is no need to bring a long spoon for this lunch with the devil featuring Robert Louis Stevenson Club chairman David Reid as the speaker.
Tickets for the event at the Royal Overseas League, 100 Princes Street, Edinburgh, cost £24, including two-course lunch, coffee and wine. Book on 0131 225 1501.