Thursday, December 3, 2009

Robert Louis Stevenson's Howard Pyle Scheme

It’s a shame that Howard Pyle never got the chance to fully illustrate a Robert Louis Stevenson tale; they were - at least subjectively - kindred spirits. In the 1880s they pretty much co-defined the popular conception of what pirates looked like and sounded like and said and did. I don't yet know if they ever met, but they had mutual friends and acquaintances and admired each other's work. There’s an 1887 letter from Stevenson (then living at Saranac Lake) to Charles Scribner, his American publisher, in which he expressed a wish that, sadly, went unrealized. He wrote:
I have always forgotten to make to you my great proposal. I want you to set Howard Pyle to work on Marryat’s Phantom Ship: he will never get so good a subject; and if you and he will do your part, I will do mine and write a preface.

Edition de luxe.
Howard Pyle’s
The Phantom Ship
by Marryat
Preface by R. L. Stevenson
Charles Scribner’s Sons.
New York.

This is pure gold.


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