Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record of Friendship and Criticism

Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record of Friendship and Criticism

Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record of Friendship and Criticism

Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record of Friendship and Criticism

Excerpt

Critics and readers rarely couple the names of Henry James and Robert Louis Stevenson. In the houses where James's novels are a long row in the study, most of the Stevensons are up in the nursery or schoolroom, beside The Three Midshipmen and The Coral Island; in those where Stevenson is the chief literary ornament, in the uniform dignity of the Swanston Edition, or the Skerryvore, or the Tusitala, there is likely to be no book by James at all. Yet in their lifetime the two men were linked, not only by the closest ties of personal affection, but by a common concern for the craft of the novelist, and for the whole art of literature, that was shared by very few English-speaking writers of their day.

James and Stevenson first met at Bournemouth, in the spring or early summer of 1885; Stevenson was thirtyfour, and the publication of Treasure Island had recently added a general popularity to the succès d'estime which he had won with An Inland Voyage, Travels with a Donkey, and various short stories and essays. James, at forty-two, was known as the author of Roderick Hudson, The American, The Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller, and a number of critical articles. Stevenson, who had spent the last four years at Davos and Hyères, had gone to Bournemouth on account of his health; James had brought his invalid sister there for a few weeks. During the next two years . . .

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