“The place does not suit her – it is my private opinion that no place does”

Miss Adelaide Ann Boodle (1858-1934), the lady at Bournemouth, had been trusted to keep an eye on RLS’s interests in connection with his house (Skerryvore Cottage), which had been let, and other matters, and to report thereon from time to time. In their correspondence RLS is generally referred to as the Squire and the lady as the Gamekeeper.

[As usual, dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 1963.]

To Adelaide Boodle [Colvin 1911, 3, pp. 34-35]

[Saranac Lake, c. 10 December 1887]

My dear Miss Boodle,

I am so much afraid our gamekeeper may weary of unacknowledged reports!

When the Stevensons left Bournemouth, Miss Boodle gave RLS a paper-knife. He promised her gift should go to sea with him. The piece is now kept at Vailima Museum, Samoa.


Hence, in the midst of a perfect horror of detestable weathers of a quite incongruous strain, and with less desire for correspondence than – well, than – well, with no desire for correspondence, behold me dash into the breach. Do keep up your letters. They are most delightful to this exiled backwoods family; and in your next, we shall hope somehow or other to hear better news of you and yours – that in the first place – and to hear more news of our beasts and birds and kindly fruits of earth and those human tenants who are (truly) too much with us. […]


Skerryvore Cottage, Bournemouth [www.dorsetlife.co.uk]

I am very well; better than for years: that is for good. But then my wife is no great shakes; the place does not suit her – it is my private opinion that no place does – and she is now away down to New York for a change,


Columbus Circle, New York, late 19th century [https://cdn.archpaper.com]

which (as Lloyd is in Boston)


Boston, late 19th century [https://i.pinimg.com]

leaves my mother and me and Valentine alone in our wind-beleaguered hilltop hatbox of a house.


RLS’s cottage, Saranac Lake, 1904 [https://localwiki.org]

You should hear the cows butt against the walls in the early morning while they feed;



you should also see our back log when the thermometer goes (as it does go) away – away below zero, till it can be seen no more by the eye of man – not the thermometer, which is still perfectly visible, but the mercury, which curls up into the bulb like a hibernating bear;






you should also see the lad who ‘does chores’ for us, with his red stockings and his thirteen-year-old face, and his highly manly tramp into the room; and his two alternative answers to all questions about the weather: either ‘Cold,’

Saranac Lake, winter [www.saranaclake.com]

or with a really lyrical movement of the voice, ‘Lovely – raining!’


Will you take this miserable scrap for what it is worth? Will you also understand that I am the man to blame, and my wife is really almost too much out of health to write, or at least doesn’t write? And believe me, with fond remembrances to Mrs. Boodle and your sisters, very sincerely yours,

Robert Louis Stevenson





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