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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. The son of a prosperous civil engineer, he was expected to follow the family profession, but was allowed to study law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson reacted strongly against the Presbyterian respectability of the city’s professional classes and this led to painful clashes with his parents. In his early twenties he became afflicted with a severe respiratory illness from which he was to suffer for the rest of his life; it was at this time that he determined to become a professional writer. The effects of the often harsh Scottish climate on his poor health forced him to spend long periods abroad. After a great deal of travelling he eventually settled in Samoa, where he died on 3 December 1894.
Stevenson’s Calvinistic upbringing gave him a preoccupation with pre-destination and a fascination with the presence of evil. In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde he explores the darker side of the human psyche, and the character of the Master in The Master of Ballantrae (1889) was intended to be ‘all I know of the Devil’. Stevenson is well known for his novels of historical adventure, including Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886) and Catriona (1893). As Walter Allen comments in The English Novel, ‘His rediscovery of the art of narrative, of conscious and cunning calculation in telling a story so that the maximum effect of clarity and suspense is achieved, meant the birth of the novel of action as we know it.’ But these works also reveal his knowledge and feeling for the Scottish cultural past. During the last years of his life Stevenson’s creative range developed considerably, and The Beach of Falesá brought to fiction the kind of scene now associated with Conrad and Maugham. At the time of his death Robert Louis Stevenson was working on his unfinished masterpiece, Weir of Hermiston. He also wrote works of non-fiction, notably his descriptive and historical books on the South Seas area, A Footnote to History (1892) and In the South Seas (1896), as well as his celebrated defence of Father Damien, the Belgian priest who devoted his life to caring for lepers, in Father Damien; an open letter to the Reverend Hyde of Honolulu (1890).
This classic horror story comes packaged with abridged and unabridged texts as well as teacher’s notes on CD-ROM. Read by the fantastic John Sessions, this atmospheric and thrilling story is brilliantly played out for the listener. Abridged audio edition. Read by John Sessions. 2 CDs. 2.5 hours
A 2013 World Book Night selection. One of Dan Snow's favourite books. Marcus Sedgwick, July 2010 Guest Editor, says:"I continually list this book in my top five, because it's my belief that most people haven't actually read it, and know it only from bowdlerised abridgements, which is a shame because the real thing is powerful, dark and above all, scary."June 2010 Guest Editor Michael Morpurgo remembers:A terrifically exciting tale of a dead man’s map, mutinous pirates, skulduggery and buried treasure that will be thoroughly enjoyed by a child if read aloud to them from the age of 5 upwards. It’s such a gripping adventure that children are sure to pick it up again to read alone when they’re a little older. It’s the story of Jim Hawkins who discovers a map in an old sea chest but little does he know of the danger and excitement which lie ahead when sets sail for Treasure Island in search of treasure.What Michael Morpurgo says of his favourite children's book:'This was the first proper book I read for myself. Jim Hawkins was the first character in a book I identified with totally. I was Jim Hawkins. I lived Treasure Island as I read it. And I loved it. Still do. I wish I'd written it.'Treasure Island in a nutshell:Black spot moment. Sea dog dies. Jim finds map. Ship sets sail. Pirates on board. Island is found. Madman in cave. Two rival camps. Battle for map. Dig up chest. Treasure is gone. Gunn has gold. Head back home. Silver runs off. Jim writes book.
The ultimate story of good versus evil although the twist being both these elements are fighting it out within one man. A wonderful novella that many have never read, thinking they know the story from film adaptations, but Stevenson's language and character analysis go way beyond what any film could portray and make this a timeless classic. Brilliant. January 2010 Guest Editor Diana Gabaldon on ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON One of the earliest and best of the romance writers—back when "romance" meant adventure and excitement, escape from daily life. Treasure Island? Kidnapped? The Master of Ballantrae? The titles alone are enough to transport you, but the clean prose and vivid characters bring you back again and again.