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Series I: Correspondence, 185?-1953

Call Number: GEN MSS 664, Series I

Scope and Contents

The arrangement of the first three correspondence subseries largely preserves the arrangement documented in volumes three and four of George Leslie McKay's A Stevenson Library Catalogue. Letters described in volume six, the Addenda & Corrigenda, have been moved and interfiled in the appropriate Series I subseries. Letters are arranged alphabetically within each subseries. McKay numbers follow each name or folder heading in parentheses. The first heading, for example, is for Allen, Grant (2629).

As McKay notes in the preface to volume three of the Catalogue (1956), Stevenson's "wanderings about the face of the earth" and "distances of thousands of miles" from friends and family, resulted in voluminous correspondence. The series contains approximately 3,300 pieces of correspondence altogether and 1,000 letters by Stevenson himself. The largest groups of correspondence can be found for Stevenson's parents, Thomas and Margaret Isabella, editor Edward L. Burlingame, and friends Charles Baxter and Sidney Colvin. The series includes a significant number of letters, approximately 300, from Stevenson's wife Fanny. Other noteworthy correspondents include Stevenson's cousin Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson, his stepchildren Lloyd Osbourne and Isobel Field, collaborator William Ernest Henley, and authors J. M. Barrie, Henry James, Andrew Lang, and Charles Warren Stoddard.

Many of Robert Louis Stevenson's outgoing letters bear marks, including dates, McKay numbers, and other numeric codes. Letters are also often accompanied by copies (fascimiles and photostats), transcriptions, printed vendor descriptions and materials, notes, and provenance tracings, such as bookplates and stamps. Some letters are bound with other material. In such cases, the volume is usually filed by the lowest McKay number. References are provided where appropriate.

Letters by Stevenson often provide only a partial form of the recipient's name. The full forms of names listed below are based first on the established name headings in the Library of Congress Name Authority file and, when not found in the name authority file, on the headings in McKay's Catalogue. Some letters are identified in McKay as having been dictated to or drafted by others. This information has not been preserved in the folder list below. Letters lacking dates, for which dates have been supplied in McKay's Catalogue and/or penciled onto letters, are bracketed (e.g. [1887]).

Many letters attributed to Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson can be found in the Letters by Robert Louis Stevenson subseries. References are provided where appropriate.

The Letters to and about Robert Louis Stevenson subseries combines incoming and third party correspondence. In addition to letters by the family, friends, and authors already noted among the outgoing correspondents, there are letters here by publishers, which shed light on the publishing of Stevenson's writings, and artists, including Will Hicok Low, Auguste Rodin, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and John Singer Sargent. In order to distinguish the incoming and third party correspondence, the names of recipients have been listed in folder notes.

The Transcriptions subseries consists of typescript transcriptions of selected original letters from the first three correspondence subseries. The transcriptions were made in 1953 at the request of Edwin J. Beinecke.

A small amount of correspondence by Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson not documented in McKay's Catalogue can be found in Series III. Additions and Other Material. Correspondence about Stevenson can also be found in Series III, and correspondence relating to Edwin J. Beinecke's research into and acquisition of Stevenson material can be found in Series IV.


  • 185?-1953

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Chiefly in English; some materials in Samoan, French, and German.

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile Papers in box 134 may be consulted only with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.


Series I. Correspondence is organized into four subseries: Letters by Robert Louis Stevenson, Letters by Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson, Letters to and about Robert Louis Stevenson, and Transcriptions.


9.17 Linear Feet (23 boxes)


Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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