Important acquisitions

Master of Ballantrae

Author Stevenson, Robert Louis
Title Master of Ballantrae
Imprint [New York: Scribner's]
Date of Publication 1888
Language English
Notes This is an extremely rare 'author's edition' of Stevenson's "Master of Ballantrae"; apparently only 10 copies were ever printed, one of which was later destroyed. It consists of the first five chapters of the book in unrevised form, produced in a 'no-frills' pamphlet version in plain buff wrappers. The printing was arranged by Stevenson's American publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, to secure the author's copyright, a year before the novel's general release. Stevenson was based in the USA at this time, having moved there from Bournemouth the previous year after the death of his father. He started work on the "Master of Ballantrae" in December 1887, and a few months later had produced a manuscript of the first four instalments for the novel's planned serialisation in "Scribner's Magazine". The manuscript formed the basis of this author's edition, with the first MS instalment being divided in two to form five printed chapters. Shortly after sending off his manuscript, Stevenson realised he had a major problem in his construction of the narrative and he considered radically changing it from a first-person narrative to a third-person one, before in the end deciding not to. Work on the "Master of Ballantrae" was then interrupted when he left for a cruise of the South Seas in June 1888. Stevenson continued the novel in Tahiti in the autumn of that year and finished it in Hawaii in April 1889. He continued to find the writing of it problematic, particularly after the serialisation started in "Scribner's Magazine" in November 1888, which meant that he had deadlines to meet for producing further instalments of the novel. He later agonised over its ending, and later commentators have found it to be somewhat contrived and unsatisfactory, but despite all the difficulties he faced in writing it, the novel is now regarded as one his finest works.
Shelfmark RB.s.2743
Reference Sources R.G. Swearingen "The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson" (London, 1980)
Acquired on 19/01/09
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