The Current Issue

August 2017, Issue 456 John Gray on horse racing and human knowledge * Robin Simon on the racy Gainsborough * Richard Cockett on southeast Asia's ills * Felipe Fernández-Armesto on feeding the empire * Darrin McMahon on 18th-century celebrity * Tracy Borman on witches * Joanna Kavenna on the Essay * Cressida Connolly on Nicole Krauss * Peter Moore on Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa * Valerie Grove on Lesley Blanch * Piers Brendon on British immigration * Dmitri Levitin on Martin Luther * Wendy Moore on Robert McCrum * Oliver Balch on Calcutta * Robert Colls on Englishness * Philip Maughan on Peter Stamm * Miranda France on Bernard MacLaverty *  and much, much more…

Peter Moore

Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa

By Joseph Farrell

GK Chesterton once revealed that Robert Louis Stevenson had an enduring affection for his childish verse ‘My Bed Is Like a Boat’. It is a nimble little rhyme and a neat image; it spoke peculiarly to Stevenson, whose voyaging mind was so often confined to the bedroom because of his poor state of health. As Joseph Farrell explains in his sparkling account of the last years of Stevenson’s life, which he spent in Samoa, these were the two sides of his character: the adventurer and the invalid. Stevenson was always on the move. Before travelling to the Pacific, he tried to satisfy his body and spirit in Davos, New York, San Francisco and Bournemouth. In December 1889, the Reverend W E Clarke of the London Missionary Society noticed an unfamiliar outline by the beach at Apia in Samoa... read more

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