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

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 ...

Robert Louis Stevenson on his career

George Iles was a Canadian journalist living in Montreal when he received a letter from Robert Louis Stevenson, a resident of Saranac Lake for the time being. It was in the autumn of 1887. Iles had been invited by the famous author to travel south then west, up into the mountains, to visit him ...

The dinner party, part II

George Iles was a Canadian journalist when he met Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson, “Fanny,” in Montreal in the fall of 1887. The latter had just settled her invalid husband into Baker’s, in Saranac Lake, for the winter. Fanny’s trip to Montreal was her first escape from this isolated, ...

The dinner party, part I

“This damned, ignorant, helpless den of a hamlick” — RLS to Charles Fairchild, speaking of Saranac Lake - For the people who still refuse to believe that Robert Louis Stevenson did not hate Saranac Lake, those words are their last line of defense. As typically happens, words are ...

The swindler

Robert Louis Stevenson was not a businessman. His wife Fanny had the acumen for that, but she wasn’t around on that evening at Baker’s, in Saranac Lake, when her husband unwittingly put the both of them in financial jeopardy while playing host to Sam McClure, his next American publisher, ...

Sam McClure, part II

“Over three hundred persons attended the annual meeting held at the Cottage on Saturday afternoon, August 26th. The presiding officer, Dr. Hugh Kinghorn, welcomed the audience who represented all parts of the United States as well as Canada, Mexico and over-seas countries. After the reports ...

Sam McClure, part I

“Samuel Sidney McClure (1857-1949) came to the USA as a poor immigrant boy from Ireland and fought his way to success in popular journalism as an editor and publisher with great energy, flair and enthusiasm. He began his pioneer newspaper syndicate in 1884 and founded and edited McClure’s ...

The call of the sea

“It is the only life to live.” — RLS to Will Low - In the dead of winter, February 1917, the stepchildren of Robert Louis Stevenson, namely Mr. Lloyd Osbourne and Mrs. Isobel Field, were guests of the village of Saranac Lake for a three-day weekend of festivities while recalling the ...

Fame

“Maggie’s Room” is the nickname used by the staff at the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage in Saranac Lake for the former private quarters of Mrs. Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson, also known as “Maggie.” In this room, which overlooks a bend in the Saranac River, Margaret wrote ...

The Scribners series of 12 essays

Living on a farm in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state, on the outskirts of a backwoods hamlet, in the house of an Adirondack guide and his family that overlooked a river that reminded her of Scotland, was the new normal for Margaret Stevenson, age 58, formerly of 17 Heriot Row in the ...

The hunter home from the hill

Oct. 27, 1887, was partly spent by Margaret Stevenson writing another letter to her sister Jane Balfour in Scotland, keeping her up on the latest adventures in her new life of traveling with her celebrity son Robert Louis Stevenson, along with his wife Fanny plus her son Lloyd Osbourne and ...

‘A Penny Plain and Two Pence Coloured’

“We are about ten minutes’ walk distant from the village and beautifully situated upon the river upon which we look down.” That is how Margaret Stevenson started describing her new surroundings from Baker’s, in Saranac Lake, to her sister Jane Balfour in Scotland. The renowned ...

Stephen Chalmers

“Mr. Stevenson was my patient, but as he was not really ill while here, I had comparatively few professional calls to make on him. He was so attractive, however, in conversation, that I found myself, as it was growing dark, very often seated by the big fireplace in the Baker cottage having a ...

Dr. Trudeau

“When Robert Louis Stevenson lived here, Saranac Lake village was but a backwoods hamlet. The first locomotive had not yet startled the buck and the bear. The community which is now the metropolis of the Adirondacks had in 1887 less than a handful of the thousands who have since followed the ...

Into the mountains

“To be interviewed from morning to night as the mother of Robert Louis Stevenson is no joke, I assure you, however great an honor it may be.” — Mrs. Margaret Stevenson Margaret Isabella Balfour was born on Feb. 11, 1829, in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was the 12th of 13 children and fourth ...

‘Up the River’

“By a curious irony of fate, the places to which we are sent when health deserts us are often singularly beautiful.” — Robert Louis Stevenson --- Thanks to this fortunate coincidence, travelers in the worldwide community of Stevenson admirers can enjoy many beautiful places, including ...

RLS in NYC

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson waved good-bye to their new friends Charles and Elizabeth Fairchild upon leaving the latter’s summer home in Newport, Rhode Island. There the Scottish invalid author and his family had been guests from Sept. 9-19, 1887. Louis and Fanny were returning to New ...

R.L.S. in Newport

On the afternoon of Sept. 7, 1887, Robert Louis Stevenson stepped onto American soil for the first time in seven years, which made it his “second coming” in the words of his friend Will Low, an artist living in New York. The scene was a pier on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. Low ...

‘The Second Coming of R.L.S.’

Sept. 7, 1887, for Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, was a day befitting the popular phrase, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” It started aboard the cargo steamer Ludgate Hill, about to complete her 12-day trans-Atlantic haul from London to New York via Le Havre, ...

The voyage of the Ludgate Hill

“Dr. Balfour insisted upon Louis going to Colorado for the next winter, and advised us to start in August that we might get the smoothest weather for crossing. He says that Louis can never be well again, and must always be subject to hemorrhages, but that he might have much more comfortable ...