“Accordingly, at about nine one night Lloyd and I began”

At the end of March 1888, RLS and his stepson Lloyd began to write a story for the New York Ledger, a weekly newspaper. The story was called ‘Fighting the Ring’, and never published. Some pages of it, typewritten, are still preserved at Yale: they tell about a fight against a syndicate which was cornering the copper market.

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by G. Balfour. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 6, 2050.]

To his Wife [Balfour, The life of RLS, II, 1901, pp. 32-3, 35]

[Saranac Lake, c. 6 April 1888]

[…] Study of the Ledger convinced me that ‘Fighting the Ring’ would not do.


The New York Ledger was a weekly story paper, established in 1855 by Robert E. Bonner. In 1898 it was changed to The Ledger Monthly, which disappeared by 1903 [https://thumbs.worthpoint.com]



Robert E. Bonner (1824-1899), proprietor of the New York Ledger, had met RLS at saranac lake in March 1888 [https://iiif.library.villanova.edu]

Accordingly, at about nine one night Lloyd and I began, and next day before lunch we had finished the design of a new and more sensational tale, ‘The Gaol Bird’. ’Tis the correct Ledger subject of a noble criminal, who returns to prove his innocence; but it seems picturesquely designed, and we flatter ourselves that the relations between the criminal and the man whom he suspects (Donald, first Baron Drummond of Drummond and Karacaroom, late Governor-General of India) are essentially original, and should quite blind all but the most experienced. […] ’Tis true my whistle explodes with sharp noises, and has to be patched with court-plaster like a broken nose; but its notes are beginning to seem pretty sweet to the player – The Penny Piper. […]

RLS playing the penny whistle at Manuia Lanai, Honolulu, 1889 [www.robert-louis-stevenson.org]


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