The (Illustrated) Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson

This blog aims to publish an illustrated selection of the Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson now out-of-copyright, chiefly the 1899 and 1911 editions edited by Sir Sidney Colvin (Robert Louis Stevenson to His Family and Friends. London-New York, Methuen-Scribner’s. 1899, 4 vols.; The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. A New Edition, London-New York, Methuen-Scribner’s, 4 vols.).

I live and work in Perugia, Italy. I took a degree in Lettere e Filosofia at Perugia University with a thesis in Archaeology. Since 1986 I’ve been working at the Museo Archeologico, where I look after stored materials, collaborate on exhibitions and assist students and scholars visiting our museum. In 2008 I obtained my diploma in “Archival and Paleographic Science”, and I’m now researching into early collections of antique artifacts in Perugia and Umbria. As a result I’m getting used to reading and transcribing old handwriting.

I first met Robert Louis Stevenson when I was a little girl: I read the Italian translation of Treasure Island, but I did’t like it very much. Then I discovered that my father had a book of  Racconti e favole –  that made me change my mind… Once grown-up, I read many other works and loved them more and more. In 2005 I came across the first edition of RLS’s Letters, on the net, on, I began to translate them into Italian, just for pleasure. The author’s personality revealed itself more and more and I found that it was quite different from the usually outlined picture. Thanks to the Editors of the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson ( and to the trust (and patience) of  Prof. Richard Dury, I joined the volunteer team transcribing RLS’s manuscripts for the New Edition. Transcription is a sort of  voyage inside the author, his psyche, his time, his culture, and — most fascinating — his human nature. A sort of voyage in the past.

The idea of supplying the Letters with a set of pictures taken from the Internet comes from another blog of mine, now over (, where I started to translate into Italian some of the letters from the new edition by Ernest Mehew (B.A. Booth and E. Mehew, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1995, 8 vols.).

In this new English-language blog I’ll accompany each selected letter with a complement of  pictures, most from RLS’s time, enabling the reader to make a journey through time and place thanks to the resources to be found on the web.

Bon voyage!



P.S. – For full information about RLS’s life, works etc., please visit the RLS website:

There you can also read the virtual books of the Letters:



5 Responses to Info

  1. gegallas says:

    I just stumbled across your blog today and am very excited! I adore R.L.S.’s letter in particular and love the idea of illustrating them with historic images. 🙂 I’m actually currently trying to put together a short film about R.L.S.’s time in San Francisco. If you have a chance, please check it out here: I very much look forward to following your blog! Best regards, G. E.


  2. mafalda says:

    Thanks, G.E.! I’m following your blog and wish you all the best for your project about RLS.


  3. Rohland says:

    Dear Mafalda,
    I came across your fantastic blog today after reading some of the letters Stevenson wrote to Colvin from Samoa in 1891. As with so many of his writings, I had a hard time putting them down again. To me Stevenson is and will always be a very dear friend from the world of literature. Thank you for putting so much effort into bringing his life and times even closer to me.
    Best regards,

    PS. I agree with you that ‘Treasure Island’ is somewhat overrated. His later fiction is much better. Seems that Stevenson aged well, like good wine. To think what he could have given the world if he had lived longer. But then the question is: would he have written at all without the illness that shortened his life? Puzzling indeed …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mafalda says:

    In 1943, the Italian author and translator Aldo Camerino (aka Marco Lombardi) introduced his translation of RLS’s Fables with these words: “Stevenson’s lyrical gifts are what makes of him a great teller; the ability, from time to time, to throw himself into short or long and more or less important stories, always with that not juvenile but exquisitely infant enthusiasm, which has in its service one of the finest authors we can imagine; which we always need actually to image a little (as all the true artists, of which we warmly become collaborators)”.
    Thank you Rholand!


  5. mafalda says:

    P.S.: I apologise for my translation of Aldo Camerino’s words… it was a very twisted period and I did my best!


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