“I warn you, you will have to cast back your eyes a good long way, close upon thirty years”

RLS was always interested by his own retentiveness of memory for childish things, and here asks her old nurse, Cummy, some questions to test the quality of hers.

[For correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1661.]

To Alison Cunningham [Colvin 1912, pp. 216-217]

[Skerryvore, Bournemouth, ? July 1886.]

My dear Cummy,

I was sorry to get so poor account of you and Hecky. Fanny thinks perhaps it might be Hecky’s teeth.

Alison Cunningham (1822–1913)

Alison Cunningham (1822–1913), by George Fiddes Watt. Hecky was a dog belonging to her brother, James [https://static.artuk.org]

Sir Walter Simpson has a very clever vet.


Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson (1843-1898) was one of RLS’s closest friends and travel companion from his student days at Edinburgh University [http://robert-louis-stevenson.org]

I have forgotten his name; but if you like, I send a card and you or James might ask the address.

Now to what is more important. Do you remember any of the following names: Lady Boothroyd, Barny Gee, Andrew Silex, the Steward, Carus Ream, Peter Mangles, Richard Markham, Fiddler Dick?

John Frederick Smith serialisations for Cassell’s ‘Illustrated Family Papers’, were read by Cummy to the child RLS [http://2.bp.blogspot.com]

Please let me know and I will tell you how I come to ask. I warn you, you will have to cast back your eyes a good long way, close upon thirty years, before you strike the trail onwhich I wish to lead you.

RLS, aged 9.


When I have had an answer I will write you a decent letter. To-day, though nothing much is wrong with me, I am out of sorts and most disinclined for writing. – Yours most affectionately,

Robert Louis Stevenson







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