A few years ago, there was a BBC Scotland series called ‘Writing Scotland’, which included a vignette with the artist and author Alasdair Gray, he of Lanark. He said that he and a group of friends once half-seriously thought of replacing the statue of Walter Scott underneath his monument in Edinburgh with a memorial to Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m not much of a fan of Gray but I could sympathise with this notion. Stevenson and Scott were vastly different writers, both producing a vast array of books about a whole host of things. Sir Walter Scott appears on banknotes as well as having the aforementioned muckle rocket ship-shaped monument in Princes Street and also Abbotsford near Melrose. RLS has to make do with a bit of the Writers’ Museum, a grove of trees in Princes Street Gardens and a plaque on the corner of Drummond Street and Nicolson Street, just off South Bridge. I spotted it a few years ago and then promptly forgot about it until the other day when I was in the area. I wonder just how many students have been inspired by it.
As it is, I haven’t read all that much of Stevenson’s work. I wrote recently about wanting to read more of Muriel Spark’s work and she is at the front of the queue. Beyond Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, read in my teens during my ‘working through the school library classics’ stage, right after I read James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, I haven’t read so much of RLS. But I hope to some time, perhaps while I still am a student but hopefully not when my heart is down.