The publication of Volumes VII and VIII completes this major edition of the letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, an edition comprising 2,800 letters, almost two-thirds of which have never been in print before. These volumes contain some 560 letters that provide a vivid picture of the last four years of Stevenson's life, from 1890 to 1894. Stevenson spent these years in Samoa, where he had gone to improve his health. We learn a great deal about Stevenson's exile in Samoa: the early pioneering days during the establishment of the Vailima Plantation; his life as the head of a large household composed of his wife, Fanny, her two children, his mother, native house servants, and estate workers; his hospitality to native Samoan chiefs and to many white visitors; his passionate involvement in local politics; and his literary work--including David Balfour, the sequel to Kidnapped, and Weir of Hermiston, a masterpiece that he died before completing. Ernest Mehew's detailed annotation elucidates the complications of the Samoan background and provides all the information necessary to enjoy Stevenson's letters to the full.
Bradford A. Booth, who was professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles and who died in 1968, originated this project. Ernest Mehew, a retired English civil servant who has worked on this edition for more than twenty-five years, is widely recognized as the leading authority on Stevenson's life and work.
September 1890-January 1893: XXVI First year at Vailima, September 1890-December 1891; XXVII Second year at Vailima, January-December 1892.