HE is perhaps the greatest literary figure from a city not short of famous writers.
The creator of enduring fantasies and adventures from the children’s favourite Treasure Island to the dark horrors of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson has been an inspiration for today’s Capital best-sellers JK Rowling and Ian Rankin.
On Tuesday the Capital, UNESCO City of Literature, will once again pay its respects to the great author with a celebration of Robert Louis Stevenson Day (RLSDay).
And this year the range of events is being brought right up to date with Stevenson inspired shenanigans taking place across the city.
A man of letters – of essays, novels, poetry, stories – Stevenson was also a practical joker, a moustache wearer and a whisky man. RLSDay will celebrate his words as well as his life, both of which continue to inspire and excite folk today, in Edinburgh and far beyond.
The events have been inspired by Dublin’s Bloomsday, where James Joyce’s Ulysses is commemorated in an annual pilgrimage.
And RLSDay has a rousing beginning with a Tache mob. At 1pm in Parliament Square everyone is invited to don a moustache and velvet jacket and create a cacophony for Stevenson by reading their favourite of his works.
The Velveteen Cad and other tales of Robert Louis Stevenson’s youth will delve deeper into Robert Louis Stevenson’s time at the University of Edinburgh, while Louis, Libbelism and the Land of Bohemia offers the rare opportunity to
enter his former Edinburgh home at 17 Heriot Row. With a cup of tea and a cream tart discover his alter ego, the duplicitous John Libbel.
RLSDay is a joint initiative between the City of Literature Trust and Edinburgh Napier University. Professor Linda Dryden, Director at the Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW), Edinburgh Napier University said it was important for the city to recognise the work of one it’s literary greats, and promised that students would help bring his work to life.
“Edinburgh Napier University is delighted to be collaborating with the City of Literature on RLSDay,” she said.
“During the day our acting students will be popping up around the city with vignettes from Jekyll and Hyde and Treasure Island and handing out badges to celebrate Stevenson. Our celebrity speakers will also be dropping in to give guest readings of Treasure Island at the National Portrait Gallery.
“This is going to be a chance for the whole city to celebrate its most famous writer.”
There will also be a rare opportunity to enjoy Robert Louis Stevenson’s personal holiday snaps and musings from 1888 when he toured Polynesia and Micronesia at Ill-Charted and Unlighted Seas: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Pacific Photography, being held in the City Arts Centre.
And in a perfect finale to RLSDay, actors and writers Nigel Planer and John Sessions discuss their lifelong fascination with the man, from moustaches to memoirs, tall tales to world travel.
Sessions, who is still best known for his work on shows like Spitting Image and Stella Street, said it was the humour that made Stevenson stand out for him.
“We all know about the merriness of Dickens but there was always something manic about his jolliness,” he said. “Those parties where every one of his brood would have to join in – or else. There’s a wholesomeness to Stevenson’s humour in all its mischief and devilment. Dickens was really a stranger to joy in the way that Stevenson to my mind certainly wasn’t.”
To add to the birthday fun, Stevenson’s writings will line the streets and everyone is being encouraged to share their favourite RLS facts on Facebook and Twitter #RLSDay.
Ali Bowden, City of Literature Director said they were hoping the city would join together in a party to honour
“For the second year in a row, we’re delighted to be working with our friends at Edinburgh Napier and others to celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson. Edinburgh keeps Robert Louis Stevenson in their hearts and minds all year round: he’s remembered on plaques and bookshops; in St Giles’ Cathedral and in Princes Street Gardens, reading lists and cinema screens. But it’s lovely to have an excuse to throw a party in his honour.”
To find out full details of the events visit: www.cityofliterature.com/news