Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
|Author||Robert Louis Stevenson|
Young adult literature
|Publisher||London: Cassell and Company|
|14 Nov 1883
Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of “buccaneers and buried gold”. It was originally serialized in the children’s magazine Young Folks between 1881 through 1882 under the title Treasure Island, or the mutiny of the Hispaniola, credited to the pseudonym “Captain George North”. It was first published as a book on 14 November 1883 by Cassell & Co.
Treasure Island is traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action. It is also noted as a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality—as seen in Long John Silver—unusual for children’s literature. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.
- 1Plot summary
- 3Main characters
- 4Historical allusions
- 5Possible allusions
- 6Related works
- 8Original manuscripts
- 9In popular culture
- 12External links
- PART I—”THE OLD BUCCANEER”
An old sailor, calling himself “the captain”—real name “Billy” Bones—comes to lodge at the Admiral Benbow Inn on the west English coast during the mid-1700s, paying the innkeeper’s son, Jim Hawkins, a few pennies to keep a lookout for a one-legged “seafaring man.” A seaman with intact legs shows up, frightening Billy—who drinks far too much rum—into a stroke, and Billy tells Jim that his former shipmates covet the contents of his sea chest. After a visit from yet another man, Billy has another stroke and dies; Jim and his mother (his father has also died just a few days before) unlock the sea chest, finding some money, a journal, and a map. The local physician, Dr. Livesey, deduces that the map is of an island where a deceased pirate—Captain Flint—buried a vast treasure. The district squire, Trelawney, proposes buying a ship and going after the treasure, taking Livesey as ship’s doctor and Jim as cabin boy.
- PART II—”THE SEA COOK”
Several weeks later, Trelawney sends for Jim and Livesey and introduces them to “Long John” Silver, a one-legged Bristol tavern-keeper whom he has hired as ship’s cook. (Silver enhances his outre attributes—crutch, pirate argot, etc.—with a talking parrot.) They also meet Captain Smollett, who tells them that he dislikes most of the crew on the voyage, which it seems everyone in Bristol knows is a search for treasure. After taking a few precautions, however, they set sail on Trelawny’s schooner, the Hispaniola, for the distant island. During the voyage the first mate, a drunkard, disappears overboard. And just before the island is sighted, Jim—concealed in an apple barrel—overhears Silver talking with two other crewmen. They are all former “gentlemen o’fortune” (pirates) in Flint’s crew and have planned a mutiny. Jim alerts the captain, doctor, and squire, and they calculate that they will be seven to 19 against the mutineers and must pretend not to suspect anything until the treasure is found, when they can surprise their adversaries.
- PART III—”MY SHORE ADVENTURE”
But after the ship is anchored, Silver and some of the others go ashore, and two men who refuse to join the mutiny are killed—one with so loud a scream that everyone realizes there can be no more pretense. Jim has impulsively joined the shore party and covertly witnessed Silver committing one of the murders; now, in fleeing, he encounters a half-crazed Englishman, Ben Gunn, who tells him he was marooned here and can help against the mutineers in return for passage home and part of the treasure.
- PART IV—”THE STOCKADE”
Meanwhile, Smollett, Trelawney, and Livesey, along with Trelawney’s three servants and one of the other hands, Abraham Gray, abandon the ship and come ashore to occupy an old abandoned stockade. The men still on the ship, led by the coxswain Israel Hands, run up the pirate flag. One of Trelawney’s servants and one of the pirates are killed in the fight to reach the stockade, and the ship’s gun keeps up a barrage upon them, to no effect, until dark, when Jim finds the stockade and joins them. The next morning Silver appears under a flag of truce, offering terms that the captain refuses, and revealing that another pirate has been killed in the night (by Gunn, Jim realizes, although Silver does not). At Smollett’s refusal to surrender the map, Silver threatens an attack, and, within a short while, the attack on the stockade is launched.
- PART V—”MY SEA ADVENTURE”
After a battle, the surviving mutineers retreat, having lost six men, but two more of the captain’s group have been killed and Smollett himself is badly wounded. When Livesey leaves in search of Gunn, Jim runs away without permission and finds Gunn’s homemade coracle. After dark, he goes out and cuts the ship adrift. The two pirates on board, Hands and O’Brien, interrupt their drunken quarrel to run on deck, but the ship—with Jim’s boat in her wake—is swept out to sea on the ebb tide. Exhausted, Jim falls asleep in the boat and wakens the next morning, bobbing along on the west coast of the island, carried by a northerly current. Eventually, he encounters the ship, which seems deserted, but getting on board, he finds O’Brien dead and Hands badly wounded. He and Hands agree that they will beach the ship at an inlet on the northern coast of the island. As the ship is finally beached, Hands attempts to kill Jim, but is himself killed in the attempt. Then, after securing the ship as well as he can, Jim goes back ashore and heads for the stockade. Once there, in utter darkness, he enters the blockhouse—to be greeted by Silver and the remaining five mutineers, who have somehow taken over the stockade in his absence.
- PART VI—”CAPTAIN SILVER”
Silver and the others argue about whether to kill Jim, and Silver talks them down. He tells Jim that, when everyone found the ship was gone, the captain’s party agreed to a treaty whereby they gave up the stockade and the map. In the morning the doctor arrives to treat the wounded and sick pirates, and tells Silver to look out for trouble when they find the site of the treasure. After he leaves, Silver and the others set out with the map, taking Jim along as hostage. They encounter a skeleton, arms apparently oriented toward the treasure, which seriously unnerves the party. Eventually they find the treasure cache—empty. Two of the pirates charge at Silver and Jim, but are shot down by Livesey, Gray, and Gunn, from ambush. The other three run away, and Livesey explains that Gunn has long ago found the treasure and taken it to his cave.
In the next few days they load the treasure onto the ship, abandon the three remaining mutineers (with supplies and ammunition) and sail away. At their first port in Spanish America, where they will sign on more crew, Silver steals a bag of money and escapes. The rest sail back to Bristol and divide up the treasure. Jim says there is more left on the island, but he for one will not undertake another voyage to recover it.
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Stevenson conceived of the idea of Treasure Island (originally titled, “The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys”) from a map of an imaginary, romantic island idly drawn by Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne on a rainy day in Braemar, Scotland. Stevenson had just returned from his first stay in America, with memories of poverty, illness and adventure (including his recent marriage), and a warm reconciliation between his parents had been established. Stevenson himself said in designing the idea of the story that, “It was to be a story for boys; no need of psychology or fine writing; and I had a boy at hand to be a touchstone. Women were excluded… and then I had an idea for Long John Silver from which I promised myself funds of entertainment; to take an admired friend of mine… to deprive him of all his finer qualities and higher graces of temperament, and to leave him with nothing but his strength, his courage, his quickness, and his magnificent geniality, and to try to express these in terms of the culture of a raw tarpaulin.” Completing 15 chapters in as many days, Stevenson was interrupted by illness and, after leaving Scotland, continued working on the first draft outside London. While there, his father provided additional impetus, as the two discussed points of the tale, and Stevenson’s father was the one who suggested the scene of Jim in the apple barrel and the name of Walrus for Captain Flint’s ship.
Two general types of sea novels were popular during the 19th century: the navy yarn, which places a capable officer in adventurous situations amid realistic settings and historical events; and the desert island romance, which features shipwrecked or marooned characters confronted by treasure-seeking pirates or angry natives. Around 1815 the latter genre became one of the most popular fictional styles in Great Britain, perhaps because of the philosophical interest in Rousseau and Chateaubriand‘s “noble savage.” It is obvious that Treasure Island was a climax of this development. The growth of the desert island genre can be traced back to 1719, when Daniel Defoe‘s legendary Robinson Crusoe was published. A century later, novels such as S. H. Burney‘s The Shipwreck (1816), and Sir Walter Scott‘s The Pirate (1822) continued to expand upon the strong influence of Defoe’s classic. Other authors, however, in the mid 19th-century, continued this work, including James Fenimore Cooper‘s The Pilot (1823). During the same period, Edgar Allan Poe wrote “MS Found in a Bottle” (1833) and the intriguing tale of buried treasure, “The Gold-Bug” (1843). All of these works influenced Stevenson’s end product.
Specifically, however, Stevenson consciously borrowed material from previous authors. In a July 1884 letter to Sidney Colvin, he writes “Treasure Island came out of Kingsley‘s At Last, where I got the Dead Man’s Chest—and that was the seed—and out of the great Captain Johnson‘s History of the Notorious Pirates.” Stevenson also admits that he took the idea of Captain Flint’s skeleton point from Poe’s “The Gold-Bug,” and he constructed Billy Bones‘ history from the pages of Washington Irving, one of his favorite writers.
One month after he conceived of “The Sea Cook,” chapters began to appear in the pages of Young Folks magazine. Eventually, the entire novel ran in 17 weekly installments from 1 October 1881, through 28 January 1882. Later the book was republished as the novel Treasure Island and the book proved to be Stevenson’s first financial and critical success. William Gladstone (1809-1898), the zealous Liberal politician who served four terms as British prime minister between 1868 and 1894, was one of the book’s biggest fans.
- Jim Hawkins: The first-person point of view, of almost the entire novel. Jim is the son of an innkeeper near Bristol, England, and is probably in his early teens. He is eager and enthusiastic to go to sea and hunt for treasure. He is a modest narrator, never boasting of the remarkable courage and heroism he consistently displays. Jim is often impulsive and impetuous, but he exhibits increasing sensitivity and wisdom.
- Dr. Livesey: The local doctor and magistrate. Dr. Livesey is wise and practical, and Jim respects but is not inspired by him. Livesey exhibits common sense and rational thought while on the island, and his idea to send Ben to spook the pirates reveals a deep understanding of human nature. He is fair-minded, magnanimously agreeing to treat the pirates with just as much care as his own wounded men. As his name suggests, Livesey represents the steady, modest virtues of everyday life rather than fantasy, dream, or adventure.
- Long John Silver: The cook on the voyage to Treasure Island. Silver is the secret ringleader of the pirate band. His physical and emotional strength is impressive. Silver is deceitful and disloyal, greedy and visceral, and does not care about human relations. Yet he is always kind toward Jim and genuinely fond of the boy. Silver is a powerful mixture of charisma and self-destructiveness, individualism and recklessness. The one-legged Silver was based in part on Stevenson’s friend and mentor William Ernest Henley.
- Captain Smollett: The captain of the voyage to Treasure Island. Captain Smollett is savvy and is rightly suspicious of the crew Trelawney has hired. Smollett is a real professional, taking his job seriously and displaying significant skill as a negotiator. Like Livesey, Smollett is too competent and reliable to be an inspirational figure for Jim’s teenage mind. Smollett believes in rules and does not like Jim’s disobedience; he even tells Jim that he never wishes to sail with him again.
- Squire Trelawney: A local wealthy landowner; his name suggests in Cornwall (a traditional English rhyme states “By Tre Pol and Pen, Ye shall know all Cornishmen”). Trelawney arranges the voyage to the island to find the treasure. He is associated with civic authority and social power, as well as with the comforts of civilized country life (his name suggests both “trees” and “lawn”). Trelawney is excessively trustful as the ease with which the pirates trick him into hiring them as his crew demonstrates.
- Billy Bones: The old seaman who resides at Jim’s parents’ inn. Billy, who used to be a member of Silver’s crew, is surly and rude. He hires Jim to be on the lookout for a one-legged man, thus involving the young Jim in the pirate life. Billy’s sea chest and treasure map set the whole adventure in motion. His gruff refusal to pay his hotel bills symbolizes the pirates’ general opposition to law, order, and civilization. His illness and his fondness for rum symbolize the weak and self-destructive aspects of the pirate lifestyle. He dies of a stroke as a result of a combination of drinking too much rum and the double shock of seeing Blind Pew and the realization that Long John Silver has tracked him down.
- Alan: A sailor who does not mutiny. He is killed by the mutineers for his loyalty and his dying scream is heard by several.
- Allardyce: One of the six members of Flint’s Crew who, after burying the treasure and silver and building the blockhouse on Treasure Island, are all killed by Flint. His body is lined up by Flint as a compass marker to the cache. According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, his first name was Nic, he was surgeon on Flint’s crew, and Ben Gunn was his servant and friend from back home.
- Job Anderson: The ship’s boatswain and one of the leaders of the mutiny. He participates in the storming of the blockhouse, and is killed by Gray while attacking Jim. Possibly one of Flint’s old pirate hands (though this is never stated). Along with Hands and Merry, he tipped a Black Spot on Silver and forced Silver to start the mutiny before the treasure was found.
- Mr. Arrow: The first mate of the Hispaniola. He drinks despite there being a rule about no alcohol on board and is useless as a first mate. He mysteriously disappears before they get to the island and his position is filled by Job Anderson. (Silver had secretly given Mr. Arrow access to alcohol and he fell drunkenly overboard on a stormy night.)
- Black Dog: Formerly a member of Flint’s pirate crew, later one of Pew’s companions who visits the Admiral Benbow to give Billy Bones the Black Spot. Spotted by Jim and chased by two of Silver’s men, but disappears from sight. Two fingers are missing from his left hand.
- Mr. Dance: Chief revenue officer (titled: Supervisor) who ascends with his men upon the Admiral Benbow, driving out the pirates, and saving Jim Hawkins and his mother. He then takes Hawkins to see the squire and the doctor.
- Dogger: One of Mr Dance’s associates, who doubles Hawkins on his horse to the squire’s house.
- Captain Flint: John Flint, the fictional pirate Captain of the Walrus. After robbing and looting towns and ships among the Spanish Main, in August 1750 he took six of his own crew onto Treasure Island. After building a stockade and burying the bulk of his looted treasure, he killed all six men. In July 1754 he died at Savannah, Georgia, of Cyanosis, caused by drinking too much rum. While dying he gives his treasure map to Billy Bones. Long John Silver’s parrot is named after Captain Flint. Several members of his crew figure in the story: William “Billy” Bones, the ship’s first mate; Long John Silver, the ship’s quartermaster; Israel Hands, the ship’s chief gunner; Allardyce, used as Flint’s “pointer” to the treasure; Job Anderson, the Hispaniola boatswain and mutineer; Dirk, one of Pew’s henchmen in the assault on the Admiral Benbow inn; Black Dog, another of Pew’s henchmen in the assault on the Admiral Benbow inn; Benjamin Gunn, the island maroon; John, a Hispaniola mutineer, possibly one of Pew’s henchmen on the assault on the Admirial Benbow inn; Tom Morgan, a Hispaniola mutineer; Blind Pew, the blind murderous beggar; and an unnamed mutineer of the Hispaniola marooned with Morgan and Johnson on Treasure Island.
- Abraham Gray: A ship’s carpenter on the Hispaniola. He is almost incited to mutiny, but remains loyal to the Squire’s side when asked to do so by Captain Smollett. He saves Hawkins’ life by killing Job Anderson during an attack on the stockade, and he helps shoot the mutineers at the rifled treasure cache. He later escapes the island together with Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Long John Silver, and Ben Gunn. He spends his part of the treasure on his education, marries, and becomes part owner of a full-rigged ship.
- Benjamin “Ben” Gunn: A former member of Flint’s crew who became half insane after being marooned for three years on Treasure Island, having convinced another ship’s crew that he was capable of finding Flint’s treasure. Helps Jim by giving him the location of his homemade boat and kills two of the mutineers. After Dr. Livesey gives him what he most craves (cheese), Gunn reveals that he has found the treasure. In Spanish America he lets Silver escape, and in England spends his share of the treasure (£ 1,000) in 19 days, becoming a beggar until he becomes keeper at a lodge and a church singer “on Sundays and holy days”.
- Israel Hands: The ship’s coxswain and Flint’s old gunner. He is killed on the Hispaniola by Jim Hawkins when he tries to murder him.
- Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins: The parents of Jim Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins dies shortly after the beginning of the story.
- John Hunter: The other manservant of Squire Trelawney. He also accompanies him to the island, but is later knocked unconscious at an attack on the stockade. He dies of his injuries while unconscious.
- John: A mutineer who is injured while trying to storm the blockhouse. He is later shown with a bandaged head and ends up being killed at the rifled treasure cache.
- Dick Johnson: The youngest of the mutineers, who has a Bible. The pirates use one of its pages to make a Black Spot for Silver, only to have him predict bad luck on Dick for sacrilege. Soon becoming mortally ill with malaria, Dick ends up being marooned on the island after the deaths of George Merry and John.
- Richard Joyce: One of the manservants of Squire Trelawney, he accompanies him to the island. He is shot through the head and killed by a mutineer during an attack on the stockade.
- George Merry: A treasonous and hostile member of Silver’s crew, who disobeys orders and occasionally challenges Silver’s authority. He launches the mutiny prematurely, forcing Long John to flee to the island with Jim as an improvised hostage. With Anderson and Hands he forces Silver to attack the blockhouse instead of waiting for the treasure to be found. Later killed at the empty cache just as he is about to kill both Silver and Hawkins.
- Tom Morgan: An ex-pirate from Flint’s old crew. He ends up marooned on the island with Dick and one other mutineer.
- O’Brien: A mutineer who survives the attack on the boathouse and escapes. He is later killed by Israel Hands in a drunken fight on the Hispaniola.
- Pew: An evil and deadly blind beggar who is accidentally trampled to death by the horses of revenue officers riding to assist Jim Hawkins. Silver claims Pew spent his share of Flint’s treasure (£ 1,200) in an entire year and that for two years until his accident at the “Admiral Benbow” he begged, stole, and murdered. Stevenson avoided predictability by making the two most fearsome characters a blind man and an amputee. In the play Admiral Guinea (1892), Stevenson gives him the full name “David Pew”. Some film adaptations call him “Blind Pew”. Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped (1886) also features a dangerous blind man.
- Tom Redruth: The gamekeeper of Squire Trelawney, he accompanies the Squire to the island but is shot and killed by the mutineers during an attack on the stockade.
- Tom: An honest sailor. He starts to walk away from Silver who throws his crutch at him, breaking Tom’s back. Silver kills Tom by stabbing him twice in the back.
Among other minor characters whose names are not revealed are the four pirates who were killed in an attack on the stockade along with Job Anderson; the pirate killed by the honest men minus Jim Hawkins before the attack on the stockade; the pirate shot by Squire Trelawney when aiming at Israel Hands, who later died of his injuries; and the pirate marooned on the island along with Tom Morgan and Dick.
Stevenson deliberately leaves the exact date of the novel obscure, Hawkins writing that he takes up his pen “in the year of grace 17—.” Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island includes the annotations Treasure Island 1 August 1750 J.F. and Given by above J.F. to Mr W. Bones Maste of ye Walrus Savannah this twenty July 1754 W B. The first of these two dates is likely the date at which Flint left his treasure at the island; the second, just prior to Flint’s death.[original research?] Flint is likely to have died less than three years before the events of the novel (the length of time that Ben Gunn was marooned), as Ben Gunn seems to be not aware of his death.[original research?] Other dates mentioned include 1745, the date Dr. Livesey served as a soldier at Fontenoy and also a date appearing in Billy Bones’s log. The most probable dates for the story would be late 1754 (or 1755) for the first chapters and 1755 (or 1756) for the voyage. Nevertheless, Long John Silver said in chapter XI : “Old Pew, as had lost his sight, and might have thought shame, spends twelve hundred pound in a year, like a lord in Parliament. Where is he now? Well, he’s dead now and under hatches; but for two year before that, shiver my timbers! the man was starving. He begged, and he stole, and he cut throats, and starved at that, by the powers!” So if Pew got the twelve hundred pound after Flint was dead, the implication is that three years have elapsed between Flint’s death and Pew’s death, giving 1757 as the beginning of the story.
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Real pirates and piracies
- Five real-life pirates mentioned are William Kidd (active 1696–99), Blackbeard (1716–18), Edward England (1717–20), Howell Davis (1718–19), and Bartholomew Roberts (1718–22). Kidd buried treasure on Gardiners Island, though the booty was recovered by authorities soon afterwards.
- The name “Israel Hands” was taken from that of a real pirate in Blackbeard‘s crew, whom Blackbeard maimed (by shooting him in the knee) simply to ensure that his crew remained in terror of him. Allegedly, Hands was taken ashore to be treated for his injury and was not at Blackbeard’s last fight (the incident is depicted in Tim Powers‘ novel On Stranger Tides), and this alone saved him from the gallows. Supposedly, he later became a beggar in England.
- Silver refers to “three hundred and fifty thousand” pieces of eight at the “fishing up of the wrecked plate ships”. This remark conflates two related events: first, the salvage of treasure from the 1715 Treasure Fleet which was wrecked off the coast of Florida in a hurricane; second, the seizure of 350,000 salvaged pieces of eight the following year (out of several million) by privateer Henry Jennings. This event is mentioned in the introduction to Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates.
- Silver refers to a ship’s surgeon from Roberts’ crew who amputated his leg and was later hanged at Cape Coast Castle, a British fortification on the Gold Coast of Africa. The records of the trial of Roberts’ men list Peter Scudamore as the chief surgeon of Roberts’ ship Royal Fortune. Scudamore was found guilty of willingly serving with Roberts’ pirates and various related criminal acts, as well as attempting to lead a rebellion to escape once he had been apprehended. He was, as Silver relates, hanged, in 1722.
- Stevenson refers to the Viceroy of the Indies, a ship sailing from Goa, India (then a Portuguese colony), which was taken by Edward England off Malabar while John Silver was serving aboard England’s ship the Cassandra. No such exploit of England’s is known, nor any ship by the name of the Viceroy of the Indies. However, in April 1721 the captain of the Cassandra, John Taylor (originally England’s second in command who had marooned him for being insufficiently ruthless), together with his pirate partner, Olivier Levasseur, captured the vessel Nostra Senhora do Cabo near Réunion island in the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese galleon was returning from Goa to Lisbon with the Conde da Ericeira, the recently retired Viceroy of Portuguese India, aboard. The viceroy had much of his treasure with him, making this capture one of the richest pirate hauls ever. This is likely the event that Stevenson referred to, though his (or Silver’s) memory of the event seems to be slightly confused. The Cassandra is last heard of in 1723 at Portobelo, Panama, a place that also briefly figures in Treasure Island as “Portobello”.
- The preceding two references are inconsistent, as the Cassandra (and presumably Silver) was in the Indian Ocean during the time that Scudamore was surgeon on board the Royal Fortune, in the Gulf of Guinea.
- 1689: A pirate whistles “Lillibullero” (1689).
- 1702: The Admiral Benbow Inn where Jim and his mother live is named after the real life Admiral John Benbow (1653–1702).
- 1733: Foundation of Savannah, Georgia where Captain Flint died in 1754.
- 1745: Doctor Livesey was at the Battle of Fontenoy (1745).
- 1747: Squire Trelawney and Long John Silver both mention “Admiral Hawke”, i.e. Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke (1705–81), promoted to Rear Admiral in 1747.
- 1749: The novel refers to the Bow Street Runners (1749).
- Treasure Island was in part inspired by R. M. Ballantyne‘s The Coral Island, which Stevenson admired for its “better qualities.” Stevenson alludes to Ballantyne in the epigraph at the beginning of Treasure Island, “To the Hesitating Purchaser”, “…If studious youth no longer crave, His ancient appetites forgot, Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave, Or Cooper of the wood and wave…”
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- Squire Trelawney may have been named for Edward Trelawney, Governor of Jamaica 1738–52.
- Dr. Livesey may have been named for Joseph Livesey (1794–1884), a famous 19th-century temperance advocate, founder of the tee-total “Preston Pledge”. In the novel, Dr. Livesey warns the drunkard Billy Bones that “the name of rum for you is death.”
Various claims have been made that one island or another inspired Treasure Island:
- Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, supposedly mentioned to a young Stevenson by a sailor uncle, and also possessed of a “Spyglass Hill” in the same way the fictional Treasure Island was.
- Dead Chest Island, a barren rock in the British Virgin Islands, which Stevenson found mentioned in Charles Kingsley‘s At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies; and which he said “was the seed” for the phrase “Dead Man’s Chest”.
- Small pond in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh, said to have been visible from Stevenson’s bedroom window in Heriot Row.
- The Napa Valley, California, where Stevenson spent his honeymoon in 1880, as narrated in his The Silverado Squatters (1883).
- Osborn (now Nienstedt) Island, an island in the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey. Stevenson supposedly visited the island in May 1888 (five years after writing Treasure Island) and christened it “Treasure Island”
- Fidra in the Firth of Forth, visible from North Berwick where Stevenson had spent many childhood holidays.
- Unst, one of the Shetland Islands, to which the map of Treasure Island bears a very vague resemblance.
- Isla de la Juventud in Cuba is also associated by some with the book, and is supposed to have some similarities with the map drawn by Stevenson, as well as historical connections with pirates. The island in the book is described as having pine trees running down to the shore and the Cuban island used to be called La Isla de Pinos, the Island of Pines.
- In The Adventures of Ben Gunn, Gunn gives its real name as Kidd’s Island, and identifies it as an outlying island of the Leeward and Windward Islands, south-south-west of Tobago (p. 119-120).
- The Llandoger Trow in Bristol is claimed to be the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow, though the inn in the book is not supposed to be in Bristol.
- The Hole in the Wall, Bristol is claimed to be the Spyglass Tavern.
Flint’s death house
Sequels and prequels
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- Stevenson’s play Admiral Guinea (published 1892), written with W. E. Henley, features the blind ex-pirate Pew as a character under the name of “David Pew”.
- In his collection Fables (1896), Stevenson wrote a vignette called “The Persons of the Tale”, in which puppets Captain Smollet and Long John Silver discuss authorship.
- A. D. Howden Smith (1924) wrote a prequel, Porto Bello Gold, that tells the origin of the buried treasure, recasts many of Stevenson’s pirates in their younger years, and gives the hidden treasure some Jacobite antecedents not mentioned in the original.
- H. A. Calahan (1935) wrote a sequel Back to Treasure Island. Calahan argued in his introduction that Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to write a continuation of the story.
- R. F. Delderfield (1956) wrote The Adventures of Ben Gunn, which follows Ben Gunn from parson’s son to pirate and is narrated by Jim Hawkins in Gunn’s words.
- Leonard Wibberley (1972) wrote a sequel “Flint’s Island” noting in the Introduction that it had long been a dream of his to do so.
- Frank Delaney (2001) wrote a sequel, Jim Hawkins and the Curse of Treasure Island using the pseudonym “Francis Bryan”.
- Pascal Bertho and artist Tom McBurnie (2007) created a comic-book sequel Sept Pirates.
- Xavier Dorison and artist Mathieu Lauffray started the French graphic novel in four books Long John Silver in 2007.
- John Drake wrote a prequel, Flint & Silver(2008). Two more books followed: Pieces of Eight (2009) and Skull and Bones (2010).
- John O’Melveny Woods (2010) wrote a sequel, Return to Treasure Island.
- John Amrhein, Jr. (2011) wrote a true life prequel,Treasure Island: The Untold Story.
- Andrew Motion (2012), former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, wrote a sequel Silver: Return to Treasure Island.
References in other works
- In the novel Peter and Wendy (1911) by J. M. Barrie, it is said that Captain Hook is the only man ever feared by the Old Sea Cook (Long John Silver); Captain Flint and the Walrus are also referenced. There are a few other references.
- Long John Silver and Treasure Island make an appearance in the 1994 film The Pagemaster.
- Spike Milligan wrote a parody, Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan (2000).
- In the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome the Amazons’ (Blacketts’) Uncle Jim has the nickname of Captain Flint and a parrot.
- The Strong Winds trilogy of children’s adventures by Julia Jones draws freely from events and names in Treasure Island.
- In the animated series Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates (based in part on the original Peter Pan stories) Captain Flint is referenced in the episode “Peter on Trial”, as Captain Hook is stated as being the only man that a pirate named Barbecue is stated to fear, with the following statement being that ‘Even Flint feared Barbecue’, referring to Captain Flint from Treasure Island. In the same episode, Flint is referenced as being the pirate who supposedly conceived of the idea of pirates putting members of their crew, or their prisoners as the case might be, on trial in an event called ‘Captain’s Mast’.
There have been over 50 movie and TV versions made. Some of the notable ones include:
- Treasure Island (1918), a silent version released by Fox Film Corporation and directed by Sidney Franklin
- Treasure Island (1920), a silent version starring Shirley Mason, released by Paramount Pictures and directed by Maurice Tourneur. Lost film.
- Treasure Island (1934), starring Jackie Cooper and Wallace Beery. An MGM production, the first sound film version.
- Treasure Island (1937), a loose Soviet adaptation starring Osip Abdulov and Nikolai Cherkasov, with a score by Nikita Bogoslovsky.
- Treasure Island (1950), starring Bobby Driscoll and Robert Newton. Notable for being the Walt Disney Studios‘ first completely live action film. The first version in color. A sequel to this version was made in 1954, entitled Long John Silver.
- Treasure Island (1971), a Soviet (Lithuanian) film starring Boris Andreyev, with a score by Alexei Rybnikov.
- Animal Treasure Island (1971), an anime film directed by Hiroshi Ikeda and written by Takeshi Iijima and Hiroshi Ikeda with story consultation by famous animator Hayao Miyazaki. This version replaced several of the human characters with animal counterparts.
- Treasure Island (1972), starring Orson Welles.
- Treasure Island (1982), a Soviet film in three parts; almost entirely faithful to the text of the novel. Featuring Oleg Borisov as Long John Silver.
- L’Île au trésor (1985), a Chilean-French adaptation starring Vic Tayback as Long John Silver.
- Il Pianeta Del Tesoro—Treasure Planet (1987), Italian/German science-fiction adaptation, also known as Treasure Island in Outer Space, starring Anthony Quinn as Long John Silver.
- Treasure Island (1988), a critically acclaimed Soviet animation film in two parts. Released in the United States (1992) as Return to Treasure Island.
- Treasure Island (1990), starring Charlton Heston, Christian Bale, Christopher Lee and Pete Postlethwaite. A made-for-TV film written, produced and directed by Heston’s son, Fraser C. Heston.
Treasure Island Pirate 1991
- Treasure Island (1995), a made-for-TV movie directed by Ken Russell and starring Hetty Baynes as Long Jane Silver.
- Muppet Treasure Island (1996), a Jim Henson version released by Disney and starring the Muppets, including Kermit the Frog as Captain Smollett, Miss Piggy as a female Benjamin Gunn, appropriately named Benjamina Gunn, Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as Dr. Livesey, and Sam the Eagle as Mr. Samuel Arrow. The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, thanks to their success of narrating The Muppet Christmas Carol, have their own roles in the film as themselves, being best friends to Jim Hawkins. The human performers include Tim Curry as Long John Silver, Billy Connolly as Billy Bones, Jennifer Saunders as Mrs. Bluberidge, and newcomer Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins.
- Treasure Island (1999), starring Kevin Zegers and Jack Palance.
- Treasure Planet (2002), a Disney animated version set in space, with Long John Silver as a cyborg and many of the original characters re-imagined as aliens and robots, except for Jim and his mother, who are human.
- Pirates of Treasure Island (2006), a direct-to-DVD film by The Asylum, which was released one month before Dead Man’s Chest.
- The Adventures of Long John Silver (1955), 26 episodes shot at Pagewood Studios, Sydney, Australia filmed in full colour and starring Robert Newton.
- Mr. Magoo’s Treasure Island (1964), a two-part episode of the cartoon series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, was based on the novel, with Mr. Magoo in the role of Long John Silver.
- Die Schatzinsel (1966), a German-French co-production for German television station ZDF.
- Treasure Island (1968), a BBC series of nine 25-minute episodes starring Peter Vaughn.
- Treasure Island (1977), a BBC adaptation Starring Ashley Knight and Alfred Burke.
- Treasure Island (Takarajima) (1978), a Japanese animated series adapted from the novel.
- Treasure Island (1988), an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks starring Alvin as Jim Hawkins, Dave as Long John Silver, Simon as Dr. Livesey, Theodore as Squire Trelawney, and Brittany as Mrs. Hawkins.
- The Legends of Treasure Island (1993), an animated series loosely based on the novel, with the characters as animals.
- In the Wishbone episode “Salty Dog”, Wishbone explores the story in a children’s adapted version.
- Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins (1994), a TV movie special promoting the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.
- Treasure Island (2012), two-part mini-series shown on Sky1 (United Kingdom) from 1–2 January.
- Black Sails (2014), a prequel drama series that premiered in 2014 on Starz (United States).
Theatre and radio
There have been over 24 major stage and radio adaptations made. The number of minor adaptations remains countless.
- Orson Welles broadcast a radio adaptation via The Mercury Theatre on the Air on July 1938; half in England, half on the Island; omits “My Sea Adventure”; music by Bernard Herrmann; Available online.
- In 1947, a production was mounted at the St. James’s Theatre in London, starring Harry Welchman as Long John Silver and John Clark as Jim Hawkins.
- For a time, in London there was an annual production at the Mermaid Theatre, originally under the direction of Bernard Miles, who played Long John Silver, a part he also played in a television version. Comedian Spike Milligan would often play Ben Gunn in these productions, and in 1981 Tom Baker played Long John Silver.
- Pieces of Eight, a musical adaptation by Jule Styne, premiered in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1985.
- The Henegar Center for the Arts in downtown historic Melbourne, Florida ran an adaptation in August 2009.
- The story is also a popular plot and setting for a traditional pantomime where Mrs. Hawkins, Jim’s mother is the dame.
- On 18 February 2011, a play adaptation by Richard Rose opened at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.
- In 2011, Tom Hewitt starred in B.H. Barry and Vernon Morris’s stage adaptation of the novel, which officially opened 5 March at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn.
- In July 2011, Bristol Old Vic staged a large-scale outdoor production of Treasure Island outside the theatre on King Street, Bristol directed by Sally Cookson, with music by Benji Bower.
- In late 2012 Big Finish Productions announced that they were producing an audio-book adaption of Treasure Island, written and directed by Barnaby Edwards and starring Tom Baker as Long John Silver, Nicholas Farrell as the Narrator and Edward Holtom as the story’s main protagonist, Jim Hawkins. The audio-book is scheduled for release in March 2013.
- From October 2013 to 2014 Mind the Gap Theatre Company, the UK’s leading theatre company working with actors with learning disabilities embarks on a national tour of Treasure Island, retold with a twist by Olivier award-winning writer Mike Kenny.
- In 2013, YouthPlays published Long Joan Silver by Arthur M. Jolly, an adaptation where all of the pirates are women.
- A new version by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay was produced at London’s Royal National Theatre from December 2014 to April 2015. In this version of the play Jim is a girl.
- Charles Sheffield‘s 1993 novel Godspeed was a science-fictional retelling of Treasure Island, recasting the search for pirate treasure as the search for lost faster-than-light drive technology.
- The Ben Gunn Society album released in 2003 presents the story centered around the character of Ben Gunn, based primarily on Chapter XV “Man of the Island” and other relevant parts of the book.
- Treasure Island song from Running Wild‘s album named Pile of Skulls (1992). This song tells the novel’s story.
- The Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik performed the songs “I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)” and “Always Know Where You Are” for Disney‘s animated film Treasure Planet.
- Skull & Bones‘ album The Cursed Island (2014) is based on Treasure Island.
- Introduction to the novel Treasure Island, the poem “To the hesitating purchaser” (“If sailor tales…”), was set to music (for piano and baritone) by the Lithuanian composer Giedrius Alkauskas, and released on the album “Enchanted Time” in 2014.
A computer game based loosely on the novel was written by Greg Duddle, published by Mr. Micro (and often rebranded by Commodore) on the Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. A graphical adventure game, the player takes the part of Jim Hawkins travelling around the island dispatching pirates with cutlasses before getting the treasure and being chased back to the ship by Long John Silver.
LucasArts adventure Monkey Island is partly based on Treasure Island, lending many of its plotpoints and characters and using many humorous references to the book.
Disney has released various video games based on the animated film Treasure Planet, including Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon.
Half of Stevenson’s original manuscripts are lost, including those of Treasure Island, The Black Arrow, and The Master of Ballantrae. Stevenson’s heirs sold Stevenson’s papers during World War I; many of Stevenson’s documents were auctioned off in 1918.