ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON IN SAMOA

Joseph Farrell

 

Almost every adult and child is familiar with his Treasure Island, but few know that Robert Louis Stevenson lived out his last years on an equally remote island, which was squabbled over by colonial powers much as Captain Flint's treasure was contested by the mongrel crew of the Hispaniola.

In 1890 Stevenson settled in Upolu, an island in Samoa, after two years sailing round the South Pacific. He was given a Samoan name and became a fierce critic of the interference of Germany, Britain and the U.S.A. in Samoan affairs - a stance that earned him Oscar Wilde's sneers, and brought him into conflict with the Colonial Office, who regarded him as a menace and even threatened him with expulsion from the island.

Joseph Farrell's pioneering study of Stevenson's twilight years stands apart from previous biographies by giving as much weight to the Samoa and the Samoans - their culture, their manners, their history - as to the life and work of the man himself. For it is only by examining the full complexity of Samoa and the political situation it faced as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, that Stevenson's lasting and generous contribution to its cause can be appreciated.

Hardback - Royal - 352p - £20.00 - 01/09/2017 - 9780857059956

 

"Marvellously done, thanks to the lively fair-mindedness of Farrell's excellent prose. Vivid, scholarly, informative, but above all a really good read" LIZ LOCHHEAD, Scots Makar 2011-16

"Scholarly, engaging and deeply thoughtful, Joseph Farrell's account of Stevenson's last four years in Samoa has the feel of an instant classic in studies of the writer. The Navigator Islands had fascinated Stevenson for years, but when he went to live there in 1890, frail and famous, the realities of life in on the margins of his own culture, language and society changed him forever. Rarely can a place and a writer have had so much effect on each other: Joseph Farrell's brilliant study takes us further into this fascinating relationship than ever before" CLAIRE HARMAN, author of Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography

"Joseph Farrell's is the best book I have seen on Stevenson's years in Samoa, the most enviable of any writer's ever. Farrell is fair to both his sunburnt Bohemianism and his unremitting hard work" JAMES BUCHAN

 

 

Elise Williams