Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
(800) 937-3880

Lot #6147
Robert Louis Stevenson Autograph Manuscript Signed for the Publication of Kidnapped, with Original Drawings

The adventure author drafts the plot and title page for "Kidnapped: Containing the personal adventures of David Shaw...Written by himself, And now first printed by Robert Louis Stevenson"

This lot has closed

Estimate: $25000+
Sell a Similar Item?


The adventure author drafts the plot and title page for "Kidnapped: Containing the personal adventures of David Shaw...Written by himself, And now first printed by Robert Louis Stevenson"

Handwritten drafts in pencil by Robert Louis Stevenson for the title-page, prefatory verses (not published) and list of chapter headings for his novel Kidnapped, plus two original drawings by Stevenson: one of a highland landscape of austere receding hills, and the other a contour drawing of a mountain, captioned above: "Those glazed and whirling circles that we call wells." All are inlaid into larger sheets and bound together in a full leather 9.25 x 11.75 volume, titled in gilt on the front board and spine.

The first page, headed "Kidnapped, David Shaw," appears to be an early outline or scheme for the novel, listing 22 numbered narrative sections. These parallel but differ considerably from the 30 chapter headings ultimately adopted for the published book, beginning: "1. He leaves home - 2. Is he a chapter day on the journey? - 3. He comes to his uncle's house - 4. he has a dreadful fright - 5. He goes into Newcastle and meets Captain Hoseason - 6. On board the Kidnappers." Beneath, Stevenson has written a four-part outline of the structure for the book: "Part 1. Part 2. Kidnapped. Part 3. Castaway. Part 4. With the wild Highlandmen."

On the reverse, Stevenson drafts the book's title page, deliberately evoking the wordy titles of 18th-century sensationalist narratives: "Kidnapped: Containing the personal adventures of David Shaw; how he was Kidnapped and castaway; his voyage in the wild Highlands; and what he suffered from his uncle Ebenezer Shaw. Written by himself, And now first printed by Robert Louis Stevenson." Beneath, Stevenson adds an eight-line poem (beginning, "On the grey rocks he stood; In his hand was the cold iron," and ending "Bright sun, when you are weary So will be the sun of slaughter"). The poem, perhaps conceived as a prefatory verse, was not used in the published version of the book. Following are two separate pages with Stevenson's sketches, evidently documenting the views and wanderings of David Shaw as conceived by the author while working on the novel.

Also bound into the volume are typed transcripts of Stevenson's handwritten pages, a portrait of the author featuring his facsimile signature, and dozens of blank pages. In fine condition, with wear to the boards and binding. Set against the backdrop of 18th-century Scotland, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is an enthralling adventure that follows the young David Balfour, of the House of Shaws, who finds himself swept into a perilous journey after being betrayed and kidnapped by his own uncle. The novel vividly portrays David's trials and tribulations as he navigates treacherous landscapes, encounters colorful characters, and confronts his uncle's deceitful machinations. Stevenson's masterful storytelling and rich descriptions immerse readers in a world of intrigue, danger, and ultimately, the quest for justice and redemption. Manuscript materials related to Stevenson's major works rarely appear at auction; a remarkably rare literary piece.

Ex. Christie's, April 8, 2003.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Art, Literature, and Classical Music
  • Dates: #682 - Ended June 20, 2024

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
Buy a third-party letter of authenticity for $50.00

*This item has been pre-certified by a trusted third-party authentication service, and by placing a bid on this item, you agree to accept the opinion of this authentication service. If you wish to have an opinion rendered by a different authenticator of your choosing, you must do so prior to your placing of any bid. RR Auction is not responsible for differing opinions submitted 30 days after the date of the sale.