The Richard Dury Archive – Dramatisations of Stevenson’s Life

Thanks to Michael Daviot for the information and quoted comments on which much of this page is based.

Bowman, James (1997). The Vandegrifter

Monologue about Fanny, performed by Bowman’s daughter, Gill Bowman, “which, through telling her story, creates a true word picture of RLS.” First performed by Gill Bowman during the 1997 Edinburgh Festival and then taken on tour.

Burnham, Howard (2013). Myself and the Other Fellow: The Early Life of Robert Louis Stevenson

RLS falls ill on an ill-equipped camping trip into the Carmel Valley in 1879. Feverishly, he relives his formative years: Edinburgh childhood, the vie de Boheme, travels in France, his meeting with Fanny, and his misadventures as an “amateur emigrant” pursuing her to Monterey, California. Performed at the Monterey Public Library, November 2013.

Cairney, John (1973). Mr RLS

Solo play, written and performed by John Cairney, based on the life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson. It was first performed at the Solsgirth Theatre Club, Glasgow, 1973, thereafter for the Keedick Lecture Bureau Tours in the USA (1978-1979) and the British Council in Samoa for the 1994 Stevenson Celebrations

Cairney, John (1995). The Reluctant Advocate

“A monologue crafted from Stevenson’s own writings, also performed by Cairney, which conveys much of the essence of Stevenson in dramatic form.” Given before an audience of lawyers in the Signet Library, Edinburgh, in January 1995.

Cairney, John (1994). A Scotch Tusitala

A threnody for RLS, a radio play, written by John Cairney, who played RLS in the radio production. It was awarded a gold medal in the Radio New Zealand Mobil Awards

Cairney, John (1995). Mr and Mrs RLS

Duologue, adapted from Cairney’s Stevenson solo ‘Mr RLS’. First performed by Alannah O’Sullivan and John Cairney at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews in 1980 and thereafter in the USA, East Asia (supported by the British Council) and on P&O Cruises worldwide

Campbell, Donald (1980). Blackfriar’s Wynd

“Deals with RLS’s roistering ‘velvet-coat’ days as a young man. Very much an Edinburgh play, written by one of Scotland’s finest playwrights”

Daviot, Michael (1999). Ultimate Islands

“A play for three actors about RLS (played by Michael Daviot) and Fanny, intended to rescue her from the misogynistic slurs of biographers and to present a truthful, credible portrait of RLS and their relationship.” The third main character is Sidney Colvin. “A gem of a play….beautifully written, sensitive and intelligent. Try to see this, even if you see nothing else on the Fringe” (The Scotsman, 23/8/99)

Decker, Keith (2000). Velvet Coat: The Ragged Luck of Robert Louis Stevenson

One-man-show, performed in Monterey 26 Aug. 2000 (but based on earlier performances and still presented as a work-in-progress): deals with RLS’s stay in Monterey and the events leading up to it

Dixon, Lorna and Mike Duffy (c. 2000?). Quicksilver!

“An impression of Robert Louis Stevenson. Two Scottish actors explore his life and imagination in a dream-like treasure hunt for the mercurial RLS”

Dixon, Lorna and Mike Duffy (2001). Hyde and Seek!

Exploration of Stevenson’s character and formative Edinburgh years together with a selections of his heroes and villains. Performed by the Crossfire Theatre Company in Queen Street Gardens in August 2000 and 2001

Foster, John (2012). The Weevil in the Biscuit

Two-actor piece by Doppelganger Productions (Bournemouth) about RLS’s life in Bournemouth and the writing of Jekyll and Hyde. First performances in Bournemouth and area, October 2012; director, Jon Nicholas; cast, Mark Freestone, Rebecca Legrand.

Hines, Leonard J. and Frank King (1934). Tusitala (The Teller of Tales). A Play in Four Acts. London: Chatto and Windus.

BBC TV production of the play in the”‘Sunday Night Theatre” series (Season 1, Episode 46), 12 November 1950, with Andrew Faulds as RLS

Hinsdale, Harriet (1947). Robert Louis Stevenson. A Play. Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers.

Knight, Alanna (adapted for the stage by John Cairney) (1973). The Private Life of Robert Louis Stevenson.

First presented at the Aberdeen Arts Centre in March 1973, then at the Edinburgh Festival in 1974. “A play for 2 actors, who principally portray RLS and Fanny, but also present, among others, Thomas Stevenson (RLS’s father) and Cummy (his childhood nurse). All the dialogue is taken from RLS’s writings.” Published, Paisley: Wilfion (1984). The original script was for a radio broadcast.

[Knight, Alanna (with David Jensen) (1988). The Ballad Of Robert Louis Stevenson. Pilot TV programme by Bon Accord Productions]

Morris, Aldyth (1979). Robert Louis Stevenson – Appointment on Molokai’i.
Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press (1995).


Planer, Nigel (2009). Death of Long Pig

Set in the strange and supernatural surroundings of Samoa and Tahiti, Death of Long Pig explores the duality of experience from the perspectives of two great artists as they usher death into their island homes. As the final hour approaches, they face the eternal question: is it how we prepare for death that really governs the way we live?’. Finsborough Theatre, London, July 2009 (dir. Alexander Summers). Planer gives an account of the writing and production of the play in ‘Death of Long Pig’, Journal of Stevenson Studies 10 (2013), 186-198.

Reynolds, Edmond (2003). If I’m Spared: A Solo Play. St Helena, CA: The Silverado Museum.

[Rosen, Louis et al. (2000). A Child’s Garden – see Stage Versions of Stevenson’s Works]

Sessions, John (2000). Reconstructing Louis

BBC Radio 4 dramatization November 2000 (rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 (‘The Saturday Play’) June 2002). At Vailima, his home in Samoa, Robert Louis Stevenson attempts to dispel some of the romantic myths which have built up around him, as he looks back over his life. Written by John Sessions, who also plays the part of RLS, with Phyllis Logan and Paul Young; directed by Bruce Young. Script in University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections

Hamilton, Kelly (book); Peter Matz and Gene Levitt (songs) (1995). Stevenson by Heart

Musical drama concerning the life and times of Robert Louis Stevenson)

Thompson, John Cargill (1994). The Laird of Samoa

“A perennially popular full-length monologue, performed frequently by Jack Shedden.” The construction is of “RLS becoming, in memory, his own young self, his father, Cummy etc. Thompson uses none of RLS’s own words and presents an emphatically SCOTCH Stevenson”. Frequent one way interactions with invisible characters from the author’s life. Published in: Port and Lemon: the mystery behind Sherlock Holmes: a play ; The Laird of Samoa: a play. Edinburgh: Diehard (1994)

Wilkie, Neil (book and lyrics); Neil Wilkie and David Stoll (music) (1994). Teller of Tales.

Musical of Stevenson’s life 1873-1894, first performed at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, July 1994