“‘And now, gentlemen,’ concluded Somerset, ‘let us separate. I hasten to put myself in fortune’s way. Hark how, in this quiet corner, London roars like the noise of battle; four million destinies are here concentred; and in the strong panoply of one hundred pounds, payable to the bearer, I am about to plunge into that web’”
(RLS, More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter [London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1885], p. 8)
RLS was often in London: he visited friends, travelled there on business (meeting with publishers etc.), and consulted with doctors about his health. For many of Stevenson’s visits, London was simply a stopping-place en route to somewhere else – elsewhere in the UK, Europe and later, the United States.
When RLS was in London with his family, they often stayed in the Craven Hotel, Craven Street, The Strand. In New Arabian Nights (1882), Silas Q. Scuddamore also stays at the Craven Hotel.
Stevenson himself spent a great deal of his time in London at the Savile Club. The Savile Club is a gentlemen’s literary, academic and arts club founded in 1868. When RLS frequented it, it was based at No. 15 Savile Row. Other writers who were, or would become members are Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, and Rudyard Kiplings. The Savile Club is now located at 69 Brook Street, Mayfair, London.
London also captured Stevenson’s imagination. He used it as a setting for New Arabian Nights (1882), More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885) and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886).
On this page you will find information about when RLS was in London and where he stayed. You will also find details about his time at Burlington Lodge Academy, Spring Grove, Isleworth.
“I wish somebody would explain to me the climate of Hampstead. To be so near London, and yet to be in an atmosphere more that of like Peebles than any other I can think of, is surely a puzzle in meteorology. Hampstead is all my fancy painted it; it is so quiet, so healthful and beautiful; and yet one can go in and dine at the Club in three-quarters of an hour, or thereabout”
(Letter from RLS to his mother, c. 3 July 1874, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol ii [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 27)
From 13 June – c.11 July 1874 RLS and Sidney Colvin stayed in lodgings at Abernethy House, Hampstead (at the corner of Mount Vernon and Holly Place). During his stay, RLS spent time with Leslie Stephen. He also saw a performance of Messiah as part of the Handel Festival at the Crystal Palace ( on 22 June 1874).
From 24 September – early October 1874 RLS was in Hampstead again. This time he stayed with Basil Champneys at Harrow Cottage. Champneys (1842-1935) was an architect and author, and one of Sidney Colvin’s close friends. During his stay RLS would sometimes go to the Savile Club. In early October, he visited a public house in Adelaide Road, Chalk Farm, NW3.
“My dearest Papa and Mama, I am getting on very well. I hope Papa’s cold is better and Mama is keeping well. Yesterday I was playing at football. I have never played at Cricket so Papa may comfort himself with that”
(Letter from RLS to his parents, September 1863, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 94)
On 28 August 1863, RLS began his studies at Burlington Lodge Academy, Spring Grove, Isleworth. While RLS was a pupil here, he would sometimes stay with his maternal Uncle Lewis Balfour at Rostrevor House, Spring Grove. Stevenson often felt homesick, and it seems that a boarding school was not the right choice for a child with such poor health. On 20 December 1863, he left the academy and did not return. He spent Christmas in Menton with his parents.