STEVENSON (ROBERT LOUIS) Autograph letter signed, to [John Addington] Symonds, [1887]
Lot 167
STEVENSON (ROBERT LOUIS) Autograph letter signed, to [John Addington] Symonds, [1887]
Sold for £3,125 (US$ 5,252) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph letter signed ("Robert Louis Stevenson"), to [John Addington] Symonds, begging him in the most extravagant terms to join them at Aix-les-Bains that summer ("...This is disgraceful: this great gap. But for all that, it means no forgetfulness on our side, and, I feel sure, none on yours. We are going to Aix-les-Bains, I think, pretty early in May. Here seems a chance, a providence, a manifest staring providence. Why should not a man of your size, weight, wealth, understanding and good heart, come the length of Switzerland seeing that we shall have gone the breadth of France (and a bittock mair)? and why should there not be a reunion of forces at Aix-les-Bains...Symonds, say YES...The Symonds who hesitates is Lost...Come, let it be so: I have lots to say, so have you. I cannot write, it seems; you do not, it is certain. Symonds, it is time we met. My wife says come, and the spirit says come, and poor Wogg (who is now in a better world, hell to wit) would say come, if he had ever learned to say anything but oaths..."), and subscribing himself "in spite of unmanly silence" ever his friend, 2 pages, on lined paper, guard, printed identification slip, 4to, Skerryvore, Bournemouth, no date, [1887]


  • STEVENSON TO JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS, historian of the Renaissance and campaigner for homosexual rights. Symonds, like Stevenson, was an invalid, and the two had met in the winter of 1880-81 at the Swiss resort of Davos, where Symonds spent much of his time. Stevenson spent that winter (and the next) in Davos, during which he and Symonds became firm friends. He afterwards wrote of Symonds as 'A very sound man, and very wise in a wise way', although his attitude was always somewhat ambiguous: after Symonds's death in 1893, he described him to Gosse as a 'strange, feverish, poignant, pathetic, brilliant top-heavy creature', and confessed to feeling that he had never really known him. Our letter dates from 1887. Stevenson had planned to go to Aix in May of that year, but the trip was aborted when he was summoned to Edinburgh to be at the bedside of his dying father. It so happened that Symonds was already on his way to England when he received the present letter, inviting him to Aix. As a result the two friends were able to meet again in Bournemouth in late June. It was to be their last meeting. This letter, from the Enys Collection, is not published in The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, edited by Booth and Mehew (1994-5), where a letter to Symonds of March 1886 is printed.
  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
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