Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Violent Friend: The Story of Mrs Robert Louis Stevenson 1840 - 1914 by Margaret Mackay

First published 1969; cover shown is the 1970 J.M. Dent & Sons (US) Readers Union hardcover edition. Jacket art by Terry James. 376p, including index and photographs.

From the author's dedication:

May one dedicate this adventurous life story to the memory of Fanny's favourite in the Robert Louis Stevenson circle - her compatriot, Henry James, the only one with whom she never quarrelled?

He was fascinated by the phenomenon of the controversial marriage, and must often have thought of using this tiny pioneer, brave and strong - 'tiger and tiger lily', her husband called her - in his portraits of brash American heroines seeking their fortunes abroad.

'They are a romantic lot,' he wrote of the Stevensons, 'and I delight in them.'

'...A violent friend, a brimstone enemy... Is always either loathed or slavishly adored; indifference impossible...'

(From Stevenson's description of his wife in a letter to James Barrie.)

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