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The Hunter’s Home: Robert Louis Stevenson and the Saranac Connection

RLS in the South Seas

“On the 16th of April, 1888, Stevenson and party left Saranac Lake. After spending a fortnight in New York, where, as always in cities, his health quickly flagged again, he went for the month of May into seaside quarters at Union House, Manasquan, on the New Jersey coast, for the sake of ...

‘Velvet Coat’

“Behind glass in the Stevenson museum at Saranac Lake, New York, is preserved a black velveteen jacket, the sprig of heather in its upper pocket annually renewed by admirers of its long dead owner.” — “Voyage to Windward: The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson,” J.C. Furnas - In his ...

RLS at Manasquan, part II

“Wealth is only useful for two things, a yacht and a string quartette.” — Robert Louis Stevenson, Saranac Lake, October 1887 --- It happened one day in May of 1888, on the seashore near the mouth of the Manasquan River in New Jersey, that a telegram arrived for Robert Louis ...

RLS at Manasquan, part I

“The doctor (E.L. Trudeau) is anxious that he (Robert Louis Stevenson) should return here (to Saranac Lake) in July and camp out in the woods.” That was the plan as the mother of RLS explained it to her sister by letter from Baker’s shortly before her departure for New York City in the ...

The return from Saranac

“Almost before the passage of time was realized, April (1888) had come and our friends were once more occupying their former quarters in the Hotel St. Stephen in Eleventh Street, which by this time had come to be known among the intimates as the Hotel St. Stevenson. The improvement in the ...

Leaving Baker’s

“In some ways I am sorry that he (Robert Louis Stevenson) went to the South Seas. He might have been here — a cheery old boy of 80. He would have been just as much a boy at 80 as at 20. His uncle, George Balfour, came to see me soon after he had gone to the South Seas. … He said, ‘I ...

‘The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale’

“I was walking one night in the verandah of a small house in which I lived, outside the hamlet of Saranac. It was winter; the night was very dark; the air extraordinary clear and cold, and sweet with the purity of forests. From a good way below, the river was to be heard contending with ice ...

Will Low remembers RLS

“We are here at a first-rate place. ‘Baker’s’ is the name of our house. … Baker’s has a prophet’s chamber, which the hypercritical might describe as a garret with a hole in the floor; in that garret, sir, I have to trouble you and your gifted wife to come and slumber. Not now, ...

The Stevenson medallion

“Where hath fleeting beauty led? To the doorway of the dead. Life is over, life was gay. We have come the primrose way.” — from “Youth Now Flees” by Robert Louis Stevenson --- Will Hickock Low was from Albany, ever since he was born there in 1852. Low was a gregarious ...

Augustus St. Gaudens

“My dear Henry James. This is to say First: the voyage (from London to New York) was a huge success. We all enjoyed it, bar my wife, to the ground. … Second, I had a fine time, rather a troubled one, at Newport and New York; saw much of and liked hugely, the Fairchilds and St. Gaudens the ...

Dr. Trudeau remembers RLS

No two individuals did more to put this village on the map than Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau and Robert Louis Stevenson. The appearance of the latter’s letter in the New York Evening Post in March 1888 had put the world on notice that a new, improved and affordable fountain of “Juventus” ...

A letter to the Evening Post

Robert Louis Stevenson, the invalid, saw a lot of doctors in his time. They were scattered about the globe. Everywhere the ailing writer went, he had to check in with medical practitioners. But in retrospect, few of them stood out as worthy of special biographical inclusion, the eminent Dr. ...

‘Jekyll and Hyde’ comes to Baker’s

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a book of which the oft-repeated statement is literally true, that its perusal is an unbroken spell.” That is from one of many first reviews of the famous novella pasted into a scrapbook by the author’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Isabella ...

‘Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin’

“It was as a student that I first knew Fleeming” (pronounced Flemming), begins Part IV of Robert Louis Stevenson’s finest biographical piece. “His was an individual figure such as authors delight to draw, and all men to read of, in the pages of a novel.” Jenkin was one of ...

RLS on ice

“Walking over the fields, with a stick in his hand and his skates thrown over his shoulders, he looked and seemed his happiest.” — Bertha Baker, Saranac Lake Behind glass in Robert Louis Stevenson’s former study at Baker’s in Saranac Lake lies a pair of very old and worn ice skates, ...

The church benefit supper

Mrs. Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson, or “Maggie,” was the daughter of a high-ranking official in the Scottish Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Lewis Balfour. Consequently, churchgoing was in Maggie’s blood, and in 1887, there was only one legitimate outlet in Saranac Lake to satisfy ...

Music in the Hunter’s home

“He looks extremely well and plays much on a battered old piano we have hired from a livery stableman.” — Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson, Dec. 6, 1887 “In the daytime, when the blizzard piled snowdrifts window-high, the Penny Piper made ‘big medicine’ in his little room under the ...

RLS meets Mrs. Custer

Stephen Chalmers, charter member of the Stevenson Society of America and author of the society’s little book, “The Penny Piper of Saranac,” had three things in common with Robert Louis Stevenson. Both men were sons of Scotland, both became professional writers, and they both came to ...

‘A Chapter on Dreams’

The “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” made Robert Louis Stevenson a legend in his lifetime. When he came to Saranac Lake in the fall of 1887, he was just beginning to understand that. He had also found relief from a huge concern when he realized that his timely appearance in ...

RLS on dreams

“We only guide ourselves, and only know ourselves, by these air-painted pictures of the past.” — RLS, Saranac Lake - The first thing Thomas Stevenson did when he first beheld his first and last newborn baby was to give him his first nickname, “Smout” — Scottish lingo for the ...