G. K. Chesterson

Chesterson provides a defense of Stevenson against a critic, and an overall appreciation of his work. A quote from the essay, “The conception which unites the whole varied work of Stevenson was that romance, or the vision of the possibilities of things, was far more important than mere occurrences: that one was the soul of our life, the other the body, and that the soul was the precious thing.”

J. M. Barrie

Barrie, who some make the tenuous claim of having based his character Peter Pan on RLS, provides an overall appreciation. He writes, “His philosophy is that we are but as the light-hearted birds. This is our moment of being; let us play the intoxicating game of life beautifully, artistically, before we fall dead from the tree.”


A renewed appreciation of Stevenson’s genius is provided in Robert Louis Stevenson: Writer of Boundaries, a collection of recent essays on Stevenson’s works, emphasizing and appreciating its ground breaking nature. The tone of the collection is provided in the introduction by the editors, Richard Ambrosini and Richard Drury,

“Many were the geographical and social boundaries that Robert Louis Stevenson crossed in person. And many more as a writer: mixing genres, combining elements of high literature and popular narratives, introducing the personal and subjective into the “scientific” genres of biography and anthropology, repeatedly returning to situations and characters of ambiguous categorization, passing from one kind of writing to another in a continuous process of innovation. Indeed, it seems that he crossed too many artistic boundaries, and early twentieth-century literary taxonomists punished him for his repeated trespassing by relegating him to a lowly and marginal position in the academic canon—way down, on the boundary between serious literature and boys’ stories and other products of popular culture.
Stevenson continues to remain out of bounds even for those who claim to be engaged in revising and opening up the canon—like the compilers of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, who still in the seventh edition cannot find a place for him in their selection. The fact is, a writer whose first essays were written in the style of William Hazlitt, and last published novel was the first colonial fiction in the language, simply cannot be forced into the ready-made categories of old canons or new fashions.”

The book is available in hardback and paperback, as well in a Nook digital edition.


The Double Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, an essay by Margot Livesey in the November 1994 issue of The Atlantic, discusses Stevenson’s work as affected by his life, primarily his relationship with his father.