In the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson

He was born in Edinburgh, but some of Robert Louis Stevenson's most famous works were inspired by South Queensferry.

Sunday, 12th November 2017, 11:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:20 am
circa 1880: Scottish novelist, poet and traveller Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). He was born in Edinburgh, and after considering professions in law and engineering, he pursued his interest in writing. A prolific literary career ensued, which flourished until his death in Samoa in 1894. Among his most famous works are 'Kidnapped', 'Treasure Island' and 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This year a full programme of events has been drawn up to celebrate the anniversary of the author some consider to be Scotland’s greatest ever writer (born in 1850) - and tomorrow, November 13, is his birthday.

Although he was never merely a children’s author RLS createdliterature’s most famous pirate - Long John Silver - and with him the most famous parrot.

Treasure Island, unusually for a supposed children’s yarn, begins with a pirate (who is dying of alcoholic poisoning) being presented with the lethal “black spot” death sentence by the sinister Blind Pew.

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It seems possible the inn, the Admiral Benbow, was also inspired by the Hawes Inn (which is strongly associated with “Kidnapped”).

Yesterday’s activities included a “Kidnapped” Parrot Hunt and RLS Pirate Day in South Queensferry, organised by Forth Bridges Tours - with a prize for the best dressed pirate, readings from books including Treasure Island, and a treasure trail through 14 local businesses.

Tomorrow - RLS Day - the local connection to both Treasure Island and Kidnapped will be underlined with a walk organised by Ian Logan of The Stevenson Way ( from 10am, starting at the Hawes Inn (immortalised in Kidnapped) along the beautiful coastal path to Cramond.

Booking for this event is not essential, and it’s free, but if you aim to go drop Ian an email at [email protected]

Meanwhile a dedicated team at Edinburgh University is releasing a new LitLong app which you can use to find your way around sites familiar to Robert Louis Stevenson in Edinburgh.

The app gives you each location marked on a map, and also the relevant quotation from Stevenson’s writing.

The LitLong project is also releasing three special RLS activities – RLS Create, giving instructions for making an RLS path around the city; RLS Missing Manuscripts, a competition for literary sleuths with £50 of book tokens to be won, and RLS Pockets of Doom, a fun activity for school students and their teachers.

For details keep checking LitLong at and keep an eye out for the free app at the App Store or Google Play.