Typescript Transcriptions: Letters between Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson and Robert Louis Stevenson

The materials in this transcription project have been acquired by Yale Library through sources other than Edwin J. Beinecke but have been digitized and preserved by curators of the library as part of the Robert Louis Stevenson Collection. This digital collection provided by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University contains hundreds of letters shared between Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny de Grift Stevenson. Their correspondence in this collection dates from 1883 to 1890. The two letters I chose to transcribe were both written by Fanny Stevenson to her husband, Robert Louis Stevenson, and they reveal a witty, humorous and lively exchange between the couple. An interesting note is that this digitized collection does not seem to display pictures of the actual letters themselves but rather photos of edited typescripts of their correspondence. The original transcriber of these letters made notes regarding pages damaged or lost, the location and date of the original letter, and other editing marks. It is unclear who originally made these edits, but the following transcription is actually a second transcription made to letters already transcribed and edited in this digitized collection. 

Stevenson, Fanny Van de Grift. 1883. Robert Louis Stevenson Collection. From the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Digitized by Beinecke Library. Image ID: 16618777
Stevenson, Fanny Van de Grift. 1883. Robert Louis Stevenson Collection. From the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Digitized by Beinecke Library. Image ID: 16618778

#21, p.1

MRS. R. L. S. TO R. L. S.

[Letter written at St. Marcel, a suburb of Marseille. Dated in an unknown hand: Jan? 1883].

My dearest Louis,

            Don’t you dare to come back to this home of . . . until you are really better. I do not see how you are to come back at all under the circumstances– deserting you family, and being hunted down and caught by your wife. I believe the heart of the proprietor of your hotel misgave him when he assured me that you had sortied, and he meant to give you a little chance. It was well meant. Are they still friendly? And does it– but I know it does not, show in the bill? Madame desires me to say that she knows what is keeping you in Nice: it is another lady. Her conservation this morning meant to be most sympathetic, verged on impropriety. I told her that instead of amusing yourself with another lady you were weeping for me and home and your Wogg. She was greatly touched at that, and almost wept herself into her dustpan. Sam goes tomorrow, and tonight takes a preparatory cockle. I wish I knew how you are. I cannot even get a hint from your letters. Bob is a sweet being, is he not? By this time the Hammond will have either seen or written to Colvin, and that will be something. I know you left me Colvin’s address, but I cannot find it, naturally. Just write it out in full for me to copy like a lesson, and I will write to him. Is it not dreadful that I cannot write to Hammond to save my life? I couldn’t find his letter to send to you, but I will find it. Your Mother’s letter I cannot find either. The truth is I am too tired and lazy to look. I have been making cakes and things for Sam to cocker him up in selfishness so that he (three lines of letter torn away here) I suppose Madame . . . came hunting you. Mind that you are very ill, too ill to live in St. Marcel. That is what I told Mademoiselle. You positively could and would not live

#21, p. 2

here. Have you had your teeth done? Mind you do, you are a dear creature and I love you, but I am not going to say I am lonesome lest you come flying back to this den of death. I hope the old father will go to sleep and not wake. I think he will. How little mind, education, any of the things we think so much of have to do with being a human hero. (About three lines of the letter torn away here)

Stevenson, Fanny Van de Grift. 1883. Robert Louis Stevenson Collection. From the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Digitized by Beinecke Library. Image ID: 16618779
Stevenson, Fanny Van de Grift. 1883. Robert Louis Stevenson Collection. From the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Digitized by Beinecke Library. Image ID: 16618780

no. 20

MRS. R. L. S. TO R. L. S. 

[Letter written at Marseille, on stationery of the Terminus Hotel in that city (In January, 1883?) ]. 

My darling, Here we are, at the hotel as you see, all right, but a little tired, and a very uncomfortable diaphragm. There were some people on the train, the typical Yankee, who was English and impertinent beyond belief, his wife, a melon belly, who calmly took my paper from me, spent two hours reading it, and then handed it to her daughter. She refused to let me have a foot warmer because her feet were not cold; however, I insisted, and had it, much to her anger. She fastened the window at her side of the carriage for fear of taking cold, and refused to allow my window to be shut even when rain was driving into my eyes. Her husband said he thought it looked so funny to see me start when a big drop struck me directly in the eye. 

I shut it with my own hand, and stood up against it for at time. At last I broke down and gave up, but I do not think I am any the worse for it. A Frenchman went to sleep with a newspaper in his hand, which M. belly abstracted with violence, and the Frenchman became idiotic with dismay and terror. There was another man in a corner, who went out a moment. Mr. M. belly told me that it was an American, and sneered with great disgust at the thought. I told him I was positive that he was American. His wife was enraged amazed at that. Afterwards the supposed American came to me and said that he was Colvin’s friend and his name was Basil Hammond, and he was also Symond’s friend. He insists upon staying here tomorrow to go to Michell and Bellason with me, so you need not write to Bellason. He says he will work him off. And he will find out through Michell how I will pack and send our things. I say that the divine garden drops heavenly manna all around his friends footsteps. Mr. H. says he was appalled at the melons impertinence. Only think! Of the books Sam got there were two, only, first volumes of the lady Maud. Sam will send you one at once, you can, if possible, change it for a second volume, it is rather disappointing, that; Sam says don’t forget the Doneys. I say I forgot the blue stones, wont you get them for me. Please do, for I want them and I will be sorry afterwards if I dont get

no. 20

p. 2

them. That franc piece (Sam says) which you gave him, is exactly like a five franc piece, a years difference in date, but with a more perfect impression of Charles the 109th head,  so he will keep the five franc piece. I hope you are well you dear. A note has just come to me from the Nice police saying that you are there. Suppose I had waited for them. Sam sends his love. We heard about 12. . . giving you the silly call all at once.         Fanny. 

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