Monday, July 19, 2004

The National Library of Scotland's Digital Library has had a minisite dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson for some time. RLS was my favourite author when I was a child: we spent several holidays in Edinburgh, where we visited sights relating to his early life. Some of the first poems I learned to recite by heart were from A Child's Garden Of Verses, and they still rank among my favourites today.The NLS's minisite contains text and images covering the period from his childhood through his journeys in the South Seas to his death in 1894. It includes the text of his self-composed epitaph, which still moves me to tears now:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me die.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Through the links page, I was delighted to discover the Thomas Cooper's online exhibition : 'Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894' originally exhibited summer 1994-spring 1995, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, text by Patrick Scott & Roger Mortimer, with assistance from Bruce Bowlin.

It's really excellent, and includes images of and descriptive text about Stevenson's life and work. My favourite illustration that I had not seen before is one of W.C Wyeth's for Kidnapped (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940), which is described on the exhibition's Island 3. Of the exhibits with which I am familiar, I was pleased to see Pall Mall's cover for The Body Snatcher (London, Pall Mall, 1884) (descibed on Island 6) and the cover of Cassell's 1889 edition of The Master of Ballantrae (described on Island 8), which is also representative of my my favourite style of 19th century book cover design).