Robert-Louis Abrahamson (University of Maryland University College)

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010

‘“Louis Stevenson – Scotch literary mediocrity”? Making his way in the London literary world’

I want to locate Stevenson in London in the 1870s as he launched his literary career. The period I am looking at begins in 1874 when, returned from Mentone, under Sidney Colvin’s guidance, he had his first paper published in the Cornhill and joined the Savile Club, and ends in 1879 on his departure for America. (Alternatively, the period could be extended to the publication of his 1870s essays in Virginibus Puerisque [1881] and Familiar Studies of Men and Books [1882].)

The paper will offer an overview of Stevenson’s connections in London, his writing habits, his reception both socially and professionally. In a mixture of biography and literary history, the paper will focus on the Savile Club, where Stevenson met most of the editors who published his work in this period, on Stevenson’s career as a ‘journalist’ for Henley’s weekly London paper, on the various magazines Stevenson contributed to and on the critical reception of Stevenson’s work from this period. The aim will be to open up an often-overlooked period of Stevenson’s life and to take seriously the literary persona and literary style of this period for their own sakes and as they provided a direction for Stevenson’s later writing.

This talk is part of the work conducted with Richard Dury towards the edition of Stevenson’s essays for Edinburgh University Press.

Categorized as Abstracts

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