Stevenson on screen

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This week we are celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson’s contribution to cinema with a display highlighting film versions of his most famous novels.

Although he died in 1894, a couple of years before the birth of cinema, RLS made an impact on films all the same. He is one of the most adapted writers for the big and small screens, with well over 200 adaptations since 1908, some faithful, some fanciful. The most memorable of his characters feature in our display for RLS Day, running from Wednesday 11 to Monday 16 November.

The small display highlights three screen versions of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. While John Barrymore and Fredric March received great acclaim for their interpretations in 1920 and 1931, Spencer Tracy’s double performance from 1941 was one he preferred to forget.

Three versions of Treasure Island also feature, from 1934, 1950, and 2002 – when it turned up as Treasure Planet. Kidnapped is represented by three adaptations starring Warner Baxter, Peter Finch, and a boldly cast Michael Caine as Alan Breck. The Master of Ballantrae is personified by Errol Flynn and Michael York.

We have brought together a variety of material from the Library’s collections, including fan magazines, children’s annuals, film editions of the novels, and original publicity material from the studios.

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Every year Edinburgh, the city of Robert Louis Stevenson’s birth, celebrates RLS’s life and work with a host of events from walks to tea parties and film screenings to stage shows as part of RLS Day. You can find out more and take part online here: