The Letters of W E Henley to R Louis Stevenson

cover The Letters of William Ernest Henley to Robert Louis Stevenson

edited by Damian Atkinson

To many W. E. Henley has long been consigned to the literary backwater of the late nineteenth century as a minor poet who produced the now hackneyed ‘Out of the night that covers me’.

One important aspect of his life was his skill as an editor of the Magazine of Art, where he championed Rodin and Whistler, and as editor of the Scots Observer, later the National Observer, where he controlled a strong Tory and Imperial journal with writers such as Kipling, J. M. Barrie, Alice Meynell, Wells, and of course, Robert Louis Stevenson. Despite his strong political views he did encourage writers not of his persuasion, the drama critic William Archer being one, and W. B. Yeats another.

Another aspect was his relationship with Robert Louis Stevenson. They met when Henley was a patient in the Edinburgh Infirmary in 1875, and they formed a close personal relationship which also developed into a literary one. Their collaboration on four plays was unsuccessful, with Henley being convinced their fortunes would be made. Henley saw the relationship under threat from Stevenson’s wife Fanny and a quarrel over Fanny’s apparent literary hijacking of a story by Katharine de Mattos led to a bitter quarrel and a permanent rift between the two.

Henley’s letters to Stevenson present us with an insight into their personal and literary relationship and also a feel of the period and show that Henley was a letter writer of some note.
Hardbound: 17.5 x 27.4 cm, 400 pp., illustrated.

ISBN 1 904201 11 3
£40.0 / $75.00

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Dr Damian Atkinson, a retired teacher and librarian, is now an independent scholar, specialising in W. E. Henley and his circle. He is editor of The Selected Letters of W. E. Henley (Ashgate, 2000) and The Correspondence of John Stephen Farmer and W. E. Henley on Their Slang Dictionary, 1890-1904 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003). He has contributed to various major reference works and is currently editing Henley’s letters to Charles Whibley which cover the Scots Observer/National Observer and New Review periods. A bibliography of Henley’s writings is also underway.

Published 1 July 2008
Rivendale Press
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