Sunday, June 26, 2011

Missing Treasure Map

In a copy of the boys' newspaper Chums from October 1894, I read the following:

"Mr R. L. Stevenson was once trying to turn a room at Braemar into a picture gallery, by means of a shilling paint box, for a boy of his acquaintance. Among the pictures painted by him was a map of a marvellous island called by them 'Treasure Island'; and from this incident sprang the famous book that made his name"

Could such a thing still exist? Perhaps it is tucked away in a museum somewhere, well-known to RSL aficionados (of which I am not really one): or perhaps it is languishing in someone's attic. Maybe it bore a resemblance to the published map (above), or maybe it was nothing like it, providing just the seed and not the shape of the idea that came later... in any case, there is a certain irony that, given the things that RSL went on to do after painting this boy's bedroom, the map itself is surely something of a treasure...

6 comments:

John C said...

In my Tusitala edition of Treasure Island there's a note by Stevenson in which he describes his dismay when having sent the original map to Cassell's they managed to lose it. Since the story was invented to fit the map a new one had to be drawn up, and that's the one that's printed in all the early editions.

Callum said...

Aha! I had forgotten, John, that you are in fact just such an RLS aficionado as was called for in my original post! Perhaps that means there are in fact three originals floating about somewhere: one from the wall of a small boy's bedroom, one that was lost by Cassells and a third, perhaps in Cassell's archives, which was finally used to illustrated the book. Oh, I feel like Fiona Bruce and Philip Mold all rolled into one...!

John C said...

There seems to be some confusion as to who did what with the original map. There are several notes in the book, from RLS himself, his wife and their step-son Lloyd Osbourne who was the 12-year-old boy for whom the story was written. Osbourne says he drew a map to which RLS added colour and place names; RLS in a separate note says the map was all his own work, and its creation encouraged demands for a story to go with it. There does however seem to have only been one map, and it was this that was sent to the publisher along with the manuscript. Cassell say they never received the map so it must be gone for good. That leaves the question of the whereabouts of the redone version.

I often wonder about such things with regard to book production, assuming that publishers must copy and recopy from earlier editions. The Tusitala books are all pocket-sized so the map isn't very good quality at all. Last time I read it I found a decent copy online and printed it out for reference.

Mike said...

Is that volume 2 of Chums you were reading, and is it for sale? XD

Callum said...

Hi Mike,
Well, quite often the things that get mentioned on this blog are for sale and so you are quite right to ask, however, on this occasion not. Only because what I quite often do is to buy absolutely knackered copies of Victorian periodicals - and I mean completely hopeless copies - for pennies, and then go through them cutting and snipping and pasting little tid bits of interest in my own scrapbook and so on. Whatever volume this was, and it may have been 2 but I'm afraid I don't remember, there would only have been about a half of the volume anyway, even before I started in on it... Thanks for asking though...

Mike said...

Ah OK. I'm trying to catch 'em all and the early ones are pretty rare (though not as much as bound years of Amalgamted Press papers XD).

If you like other people's old scrapbooks the Haunted Bookshop in Cambridge has one at the moment that's got all old cigarette cards in and that :3

 
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