The story goes that Robert Louis Stevenson was on holiday in the Scottish Highlands and one rainy day came upon his stepson Lloyd, applying watercolors to a map he'd made of an imaginary isle. Lloyd described Stevenson's attention;
"....as I was finishing it, and with his affectionate interest in everything I was doing, leaned over my shoulder, and was soon elaborating the map and naming it. I shall never forget the thrill of Skeleton Island, Spyglass Hill, nor the heart-stirring climax of the three red crosses! And the greater climax still when he wrote down the words "Treasure Island" at the top right-hand corner! And he seemed to know so much about it too —— the pirates, the buried treasure, the man who had been marooned on the island ... . "Oh, for a story about it", I exclaimed, in a heaven of enchantment ..."
Stevenson, who had been in a writer's block of late, dutifully hunkered down and blazed through the creation of Treasure Island.
My father had a hard-bound copy of Treasure Island in the house and it was the first novel I ever read. It bore the signature of my grandfather on the inside cover "From Dad, To Edmund J. Clohessy Jr., - Christmas 1930".
- thanks, Matthew for scanning the book-cover!
By the time the already-worn volume fell into my hands I must have seen the famous 1934 movie version with Wallace Beery as Long John Silver, Lionel Barrymore playing Billy Bones, and Jackie Cooper as the boy Jim Hawkins. My father and I were very fond of such bygone silver-screen gems, and his breadth of knowledge about the stars and their signature roles was a tantalizing thread that fueled my imagination. But, the fact that my father had read the book prior to, even, the 1934 movie version added to the intensity of interest he conveyed to me, to whom, like many 6 or 7 year old boys, a fine tale about pirates and lost treasure was as gasoline tossed on the fire.
As in all things, bookwise, artwise - lifewise - "Hunger is the best appetizer".
The book had but 4 colored - painted! - illustrations by Frank Godwin. Godwin is much lesser known than Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth whose names are synonymous with vivid swashbuckling scenes of the classic pirate books. Nonetheless, he stands on his own with gracefulrendering, exquisite coloring, and fine characterizations. Godwin also did outstanding work on Stevenson's Kidnapped and Hagedorn'sThe Book of Courage as seen below.
Four illustrated plates from Godwin were just enough to drive me round the bend, imaginatively speaking, and supply my own inner scenery.
to add some music to the proceedings, and forge a link to the previous post, here is a pirate-themed musical sketch ( i couldn't get a copy of his Henry Martin) of Donovan's taken from a live performance;Moon In Capricorn