Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour
London: Cassell & Company, Limited, 1886. First edition. Full leather. This first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped is finely bound in full oxblood calf. The binding features raised spine bands, double gilt-rule framed and gilt-tooled compartments, twin black spine title and author labels, gilt rule-bordered covers, red and green silk head and tailbands, and marbled endpapers. Condition of the binding is near fine – square, tight, clean, the calf unfaded and supple with only trivial superficial scuffs. The contents are suited to the binding, notably clean with the color folding map present and intact at the title page and the publisher’s advertisements following the text retained when the volume was bound. The contents appear to be a mixed issue of the first edition. The text appears consonant with first issue; in line 11 of p.40, “business” is uncorrected. However, the advertisements following the text are dated 5G-7.86.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish author best known for his novels Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Master of Ballantrae. Stevenson cast off his family profession of engineer and led a rather peripatetic, albeit sickly, life (he had tuberculosis), his final years spent in the South Seas, including Tahiti, Honolulu, Gilbert Islands, and Samoa, where he died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 44.
Stevenson “was overpraised in his lifetime and immediately after his death, and has been considerably undervalued since. A series of collected editions bore witness to the popularity of his books with the general reader, but from the 1930s onwards he was ignored or patronized by academic critics as merely a writer for children. Slowly the tide has turned. He has been praised by modern writers… and the critics… are beginning to take him seriously again.
In recent decades, “Stevenson’s reputation drastically appreciated as “a writer of originality and power whose essays at their best are cogent and perceptive renderings of aspects of the human condition; whose novels are either brilliant adventure stories with subtle moral overtones or original and impressive presentations of human action in terms of history and topography as well as psychology; whose short stories produce some new and effective permutations in the relation between romance and irony or manage to combine horror and suspense with moral diagnosis…” (ODNB, Britannica).
Kidnapped is a historical fiction novel. The full title is Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; His Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth. Set during real 18th century Scottish events, notably the Jacobite uprising and the murder of Colin Roy Campbell, the government-appointed factor of the forfeited land of the Clan Steward of Appin, the book follows 17-year-old David Balfour, whose uncle attempts to bamboozle David out of his inheritance and sell him into slavery. While the main character is fictional, others are real, such as Colin Roy Campbell, and James Stewart (the man who was hanged for killing Campbell). Item #007130