From “Picturesque Notes” to “City of the Dead”: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edinburgh

Date(s) - 14/01/2009
9:00 am


Professor Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley

A public lecture sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Robert Louis Stevenson is one of Edinburgh’s most famous literary sons, yet he wrote most of his work away from it – farther and farther away from it.  The Scottish settings of Kidnapped, Catriona, The Master of Ballantraeand Weir of Hermiston were imagined from Bournemouth, from the Adirondacks, and from the South Pacific. Weir of Hermiston recreates Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders in the age of Walter Scott, when the city was one of the literary capitals of Europe. By Stevenson’s time, it was a literary ghost town. The Edinburgh of his fiction belongs less to history than to memory and fantasy.  The content of that fantasy will be the subject of Ian Duncan’s lecture.