Cover image for The annotated Treasure Island
The annotated Treasure Island
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894., author.
Uniform Title:
Treasure Island
Publication Information:
New York : Fine & Kahn, 2014.
Physical Description:
xxvi, 278 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR5486.A2 B37 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



First published as a serialized children's story in 1881-1882, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island has become an enduring classic. It has all the elements of a great adventure story: a plot full of twists and turns, an escalating sense of treachery and impending disaster, and a quintessential villain. Teenager Jim Hawkins finds a map titled "Treasure Island" in the belongings of a stricken lodger at the Admiral Benbow Inn in 1750s England. He soon finds himself aboard the schooner Hispaniola with a crew of disguised pirates headed to the Caribbean on a quest to find buried treasure. Long John Silver, the peg-legged cook, is the leader of this wretched crew. He is both engaging and ruthless, feared by even his barbarous accomplices, and a shape-shifter, pretending to be Jim's good friend and enemy, secretly plotting a mutiny. When mutiny begins, Jim must save the day.This beloved adventure story is pure fiction--but fiction well grounded in historical and geographical reality. In The Annotated Treasure Island, editor and researcher Simon Barker-Benfield meticulously and lovingly annotates this voyage, offering crucial factual information, a sociopolitical context, and clear technical explanations that bring you closer to the action. Lavishly illustrated with pictures of nautical equipment, parts of ships, and period maps, The Annotated Treasure Island brings the seafaring vernacular to life. You'll learn about "blocks," "backstays," and "shrouds." And you'll see Jim and the crew handle the Hispaniola, whether it's the "simple" chore of raising the anchor--which in a similar, real vessel could require three hours'-worth of hauling in a very slimy cable six inches at a time--or the difficulty and meaning of "warping" and "putting a man in the chains" in order to take depth soundings. The story illustrations by Louis Rhead (1857-1926) deftly draw out the escalating dramatic tension. Would all the risk and hardship have been worth it? Just how much treasure was the crew after? What could one have bought with 700,000 pounds sterling in the 1700s? Even that question is answered in this newly annotated edition: it would have been enough to buy and outfit a fleet of eleven 104-gun battleships of the period.Seven hundred thousand pounds sterling was serious money, enough money that some men would do almost anything to get it.

Author Notes

Novelist, poet, and essayist Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. A sickly child, Stevenson was an invalid for part of his childhood and remained in ill health throughout his life. He began studying engineering at Edinburgh University but soon switched to law. His true inclination, however, was for writing. For several years after completing his studies, Stevenson traveled on the Continent, gathering ideas for his writing. His Inland Voyage (1878) and Travels with a Donkey (1878) describe some of his experiences there. A variety of essays and short stories followed, most of which were published in magazines. It was with the publication of Treasure Island in 1883, however, that Stevenson achieved wide recognition and fame. This was followed by his most successful adventure story, Kidnapped, which appeared in 1886.

With stories such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, Stevenson revived Daniel Defoe's novel of romantic adventure, adding to it psychological analysis. While these stories and others, such as David Balfour and The Master of Ballantrae (1889), are stories of adventure, they are at the same time fine studies of character. The Master of Ballantrae, in particular, is a study of evil character, and this study is taken even further in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

In 1887 Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, went to the United States, first to the health spas of Saranac Lake, New York, and then on to the West Coast. From there they set out for the South Seas in 1889. Except for one trip to Sidney, Australia, Stevenson spent the remainder of his life on the island of Samoa with his devoted wife and stepson. While there he wrote The Wrecker (1892), Island Nights Entertainments (1893), and Catriona (1893), a sequel to Kidnapped. He also worked on St. Ives and The Weir of Hermiston, which many consider to be his masterpiece. He died suddenly of apoplexy, leaving both of these works unfinished. Both were published posthumously; St. Ives was completed by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, and The Weir of Hermiston was published unfinished. Stevenson was buried on Samoa, an island he had come to love very much.

Although Stevenson's novels are perhaps more accomplished, his short stories are also vivid and memorable. All show his power of invention, his command of the macabre and the eerie, and the psychological depth of his characterization.

(Bowker Author Biography)