This is the first publication of a remarkable book by Arthur Ransome, originally commissioned in 1910. The manuscript, nearly complete, was sequestered by Ransome's wife in 1914, and he never saw it again. It came to light only by chance, long after his death. Arthur Ransome here gives an exceptionally personal and perceptive account of the strengths and weaknesses of Stevenson as man and writer. Writing when most books on Stevenson were biographical or merely adulatory, he intended his to be the first 'critical study'. The result is a fascinating and eager exposition by a yet-to-become-novelist of the writer who was to remain a lifelong inspiration. Here he wrestles to identify techniques that later underpin his Swallows and Amazons. Moreover, this is the only manuscript first draft of a work by Ransome to survive, and as such provides a unique insight into his working methods. The appendices include all other extant material relating to Stevenson by Ransome, from his very first story (written at the age of eight, and hitherto published only privately) to working notes and articles in literary periodicals. The editor's substantial introduction gives a full account of the extraordinary history of the manuscript's development, disappearance, and rediscovery, and adds a new and enlightening chapter to the tumultuous story of Ransome's first marriage, early career, and escape to Russia. KIRSTY NICHOL FINDLAY taught at the University of Waikato, and since retiring has been a Moderator in Drama for Trinity College London. Her publications relate to her special interests: Renaissance, Commonwealth, and children's literature.
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