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Robert Louis Stevenson
May 2007
The following article was entirely researched by Lawrence Totaro
 

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Could the duality of personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde come from the black-and-white nature of his interest in chess? 

Lawrence Totaro

 

 

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson to His Family and Friends Volume: 1. Contributors: Sidney Colvin - editor, Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1899.

 Page 176 

TO W. E. HENLEY
[MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA, October, 1879.] 

Again, choose, in your head, the best volume of Labiche there is, and post it to Jules Simoneau, Monterey, Monterey Co., California: do this at once, as he is my restaurant-man, a most pleasant old boy with whom I discuss the universe and play chess daily.

 

Page 253 

TO MRS. SITWELL
[THE COTTAGE, CASTLETON OF BRAEMAR, August, 1881.] 

Last night I was beaten at chess, and am still grinding under the blow. -- Ever your faithful friend, R. L. S.

 

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson to His Family and Friends. Volume: 2. Contributors: Sidney Colvin - editor, Robert Lewis Stevenson - author. Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1902.

 To JAMES PAYN
[February 4th, 1890, SS. "L‹BECK."] 

(Why can't I spell and write like an honest, sober, God-fearing litry gent? I think itís the motion of the ship.) Here I was interrupted to play chess with the chief engineer; as I grow old, I prefer the "athletic sport of cribbage," of which (I am sure I misquote) I have just been reading in your delightful Literary Recollections.

  

Life of Robert Louis Stevenson. Volume: 1. Contributors: Graham Balfour - author. Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1901.

Page 242 

By Christmas he wrote: "I had to give up wood-engraving, chess, latterly even patience, and could read almost nothing but newspapers. It was dull but necessary. I seem hopelessly hidebound, as you see; nothing comes out of me but chips."

  

RLS: Stevenson's Letters to Charles Baxter. Contributors: Charles Baxter - author, DeLancey Ferguson - editor, Robert Louis Stevenson - author, Marshall Waingrow - editor. Publisher: Kennikat Press. Place of Publication: Port Washington, NY. Publication Year: 1973.

Page 2 

[Edinburgh, 1872?]  

Dear Charles,

   Couldn't you look down this afternoon, or at 1/2 past eight this evening and play one game of chess? I'll stand Sam.
                                                     Yrs, R. L. S.

I'm confined to the house.

MS, Yale.

 

Chess in his works

 The Wrong Box ; the Ebb Tide. Contributors: Lloyd Osbourne - author, Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1909. 

Page  288 

"The Sunday paper is one of the features of the age," said Mr. Finsbury. "In America, I am told, it supersedes all other literature, the bone and sinew of the nation finding their requirements catered for; hundreds of columns will be occupied with interesting details of the world's doings, such as water-spouts, elopements, conflagrations, and public entertainments; there is a corner for politics, ladies' work, chess, religion, and even literature; and a few spicy editorials serve to direct the course of public thought.

  

Memories and Portraits. Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1910.

 Page 137 

Men and women contend for each other in the lists of love, like rival mesmerists; the active and adroit decide their challenges in the sports of the body; and the sedentary sit down to chess or conversation.

 

New Arabian Nights: [And] More New Arabian Nights. The Dynamiter. Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1910.

 Page 115 

THE RAJAH's DIAMOND
STORY OF THE BANDBOX 

U P to the age of sixteen, at a private school and afterwards at one of those great institutions for which England is justly famous, Mr. Harry Hartley had received the ordinary education of a gentleman. At that period, he manifested a remarkable distaste for study; and his only surviving parent being both weak and ignorant, he was permitted thenceforward to spend his time in the attainment of petty and purely elegant accomplishments. Two years later, he was left an orphan and almost a beggar. For all active and industrious pursuits, Harry was unfitted alike by nature and training. He could sing romantic ditties, and accompany himself with discretion on the piano; he was a graceful although a timid cavalier; he had a pronounced taste for chess; and nature had sent him into the world with one of the most engaging exteriors that can well be fancied.

 

The Wrecker. Contributors: Lloyd Osbourne - author, Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1905

 Page 31 

It was a Wednesday morning when the things arrived, and set me in the seventh heaven of satisfaction. My father (for I can scarcely say myself) was trying at this time a "straddle" in wheat between Chicago and New York; the operation so called is, as you know, one of the most tempting and least safe upon the chess-board of finance.

 Page 551 

For the mind of the reader, always bent to pick up clews, receives no impression of reality or life, rather of an airless, elaborate mechanism; and the book remains enthralling, but insignificant, like a game of chess, not a work of human art.

 

Thrawn Janet ; Markheim: Two Tales. Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Mosher. Place of Publication: Portland, ME. Publication Year: 1906.

 He played a game of skill, depending on the rules, calculating consequence from cause; and what if nature, as the defeated tyrant overthrew the chess-board, should break the mould of their succession?

 

St. Ives; Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England. Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1912.

 Page 1 

ST. IVES
CHAPTER 1
A TALE OF A LION RAMPANT 

My English, which had brought me into that scrape, now helped me very materially to bear it. I had a thousand advantages. I was often called to play the part of an interpreter, whether of orders or complaints, and thus brought in relations, sometimes of mirth, sometimes almost of friendship, with the officers in charge. A young lieutenant singled me out to be his adversary at chess, a game in which I was extremely proficient, and would reward me for my gambits with excellent cigars.

 Page 13 

How, if she came no more, how was I to continue to endure my empty days? how was I to fall back and find my interest in the major's lessons, the lieutenant's chess, in a twopenny sale in the market, or a halfpenny addition to the prison fare?
 

The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses. Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1896

 Page 202 

CHAPTER II.
"IN MINE ENEMIES' HOUSE." 

All guests were made welcome. Minstrels, tumblers, players of chess, the sellers of relics, medicines, perfumes, and enchantments, and along with these every sort of priest, friar, or pilgrim, were made welcome to the lower table, and slept together in the ample lofts, or on the bare boards of the long dining-hall.

 
Familiar Studies of Men and Books.
Contributors: Robert Louis Stevenson - author. Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Company. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1887.

CHARLES OF ORLEANS.

 

Page 231

Charles d'Orleans - Charles of Orleans - Musee des Arts Decoratifs

Born ( May 1391) of such a noble stock, Charles was to know from the first all favors of nature and art. His father's gardens were the admiration of his contemporaries; his castles were situated in the most agreeable parts of France, and sumptuously adorned. We have preserved, in an inventory of 1403, the description of tapestried rooms where Charles may have played in childhood. "A green room, with the ceiling full of angels, and the dossier of shepherds and shepherdesses seeming (faisant contenance) to eat nuts and cherries. A room of gold, silk and worsted, with a device of little children in a river, and the sky full of birds. A room of green tapestry, showing a knight and lady at chess in a pavilion. Another green room, with shepherdesses in a trellised garden worked in gold and silk. A carpet representing cherry-trees, where there is a fountain, and a lady gathering cherries in a basin."

 

Page 259 

The company hunted and went on pleasure-parties; they played chess, tables, and many other games.

 Page 261 

This was when Jehan NŤgre, the Lombard, came to Blois and played chess against all these chess-players, and won much money from my lord and his intimates; or when Baudet Harenc of Chalons made ballades before all these ballade-makers.

 Page 270 

But with Charles literature was an object rather than a mean; he was one who loved bandying words for its own sake; the rigidity of intricate metrical forms stood him in lieu of precise thought; instead of communicating truth, he observed the laws of a game; and when he had no one to challenge at chess or rackets, he made verses in a wager against himself.

 

Read much more about Charles of Orleans from Mary Jo-Arnís page

 

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