ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON AND THE ENGLISH DISCOVERY OF THE NEW SHORT STORY
THE last third of the century saw the new short story thoroughly established in America, its scope marvelously broadened, its popularity steadily increasing, and the general level of technical excellence rising almost as fast. In a previous chapter I have discussed midcentury short narrative in England, and endeavored to do justice to the excellent novelettes of Dickens, the exquisite brief tales of Mrs. Gaskell and Dr. Brown, the almost impressionistic stories of Henry Kingsley. These writers added their pound or their mite to English literature. But not until 1877, and Robert Louis Stevenson's first published narrative, does any Englishman of real caliber show both desire and ability to do something new with the short story.
This narrative was A Lodging for the Night, published in Temple Bar for October, and followed by Will o' the Mill in The Cornhill Magazine for January, 1878, and The Sire de Maléroit's Door in Temple Bar for the same month. A Lodging for the Night is as clearly and consciously an impressionistic short story as George Meredith's contemporary novelettes are not of that category; the two stories which followed would