Age of Pirates

Pirate Encyclopedia: Treasure Island

Arguably the most famous pirate story ever written, "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson has captivated adult and child readers alike since it first appeared in print in 1883. It was first published as a serial in installments of Young Folks magazine before being revised and printed in book form.

"Treasure Island" is a tale of adventure, as young Jim Hawkins sets out in search of fortune. Hawkins' father has recently died and he has come into possession of a map after the death of a guest at his family's inn. When Jim shares the map with his neighbors, Squire Trelawney and Doctor Livesey, they recognize it as a treasure map and decide to go in search of the treasure. They hire a ship and Jim sets sail with them as the cabin boy. Unknown to the ship's captain, several of the crew are pirates, including Long John Silver. They plan to overthrow the captain and Jim's friends and seize the treasure once they reach their destination.

What results is a tale of intrigue as shipmates double cross each other and Jim and his friends find their lives in jeopardy. After a series of adventures on the island where the treasure is found, Jim and his friends are victorious over the pirates and head home.

The book was written for boys and as such has long been regarded as a children's story, however the language and complexity make it also accessible to adult readers.

The author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, was a Scottish born lawyer and writer, who wrote the story for his young stepson Lloyd after they created an imaginary treasure map together. Stevenson is also known for "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" as well as "A Child's Garden of Verses."

Stevenson suffered ill health for most of his life, with chest and breathing problems which may have been caused by tuberculosis. He traveled widely, often in search of warmer places, where the weather was better for his health. The setting of "Treasure Island" was undoubtedly influenced by Stevenson's travels and in the years following its success he moved to Samoa, in the South Pacific.

While Stevenson was a prolific writer of essays, travelogues, short stories, plays and more, Treasure Island is possibly his best known work and continues to be widely read today. The book has been adapted for the stage and at least five films versions have been made. "Treasure Island," remains the single most effective method used to launch pirates into popular culture.

Copyright 2006 CleverMedia
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