Robert Louis Stevenson published Treasure Island near the end of the 19th century, in 1883. Some books simply do not stand the test of time – this one just becomes better with age. Everyone loves pirates and this is the quintessential swashbuckling story of adventure. We know you have all read the book (shame on you if you haven’t) so take our quiz and test your knowledge about one the greatest stories ever told.
The inspiration for the book was Stevenson’s stepson, who was spending a rainy summer day with a box of paints, painting a map of an island where buried treasure could be found. Stevenson took an immediate interest in the map assisting with some of its details before finally sitting down to write a story that would appeal to a young boy.
Writing a chapter a day, Stevenson penned the first 15 installments, reading out each aloud for his entire family who made suggestions. These early chapters were submitted to Young Folks Magazine by a family friend, and were published on a weekly basis. But after those first 15 chapters Stevenson began to suffer from writer’s block and feared the book would never be completed. A trip to Davos in Switzerland cleared his head and he completed Treasure Island on his return.
The initial serialization in Young Folks Magazine from October 1881 to January 1882 did not attract serious attention, but in 1883 Cassel & Company published the book in its entirety and it became a bestseller. Stevenson was paid £100 for the book, which was first printed in four bindings (green, grey, blue and rust-coloured) between November 14 and December 11 in 1883. There were just 2000 first editions printed. These early copies are scarce and are currently being offered on AbeBooks.com for up to $32,500.
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