Treasure Island

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Treasure Island
Treasure Island-Scribner's-1911.jpg
Cover illustration by N.C. Wyeth from 1911
Author Robert Louis Stevenson
Cover artist N.C. Wyeth
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Adventure
Young Adult Literature
Publisher London: Cassell and Company
Publication date

Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold". First published as a book on 23 May 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881 and 1882 under the title Treasure Island or, the mutiny of the Hispaniola with Stevenson adopting the pseudonym Captain George North.

Traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, Treasure Island is a tale noted for its atmosphere, characters and action, and also as a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality — as seen in Long John Silver — unusual for children's literature. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates is enormous, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Stevenson's map of Treasure Island
Jim Hawkins sitting in the apple-barrel, listening to the pirates

The novel is divided into six parts and 34 chapters: Jim Hawkins is the narrator of all except for chapters 16–18, which are narrated by Doctor Livesey.

The novel opens in the seaside village of Black Hill Cove in south-west England (to Stevenson, in his letters[2] and in the related fictional play Admiral Guinea,[3] near Barnstaple, Devon) in the mid-18th century. Stevenson deliberately leaves the exact date of the novel obscure, the narrator, James "Jim" Hawkins, the young son of the owners of the Admiral Benbow Inn, writing that he takes up his pen "in the year of grace 17—." An old drunken seaman named Billy Bones arrives at the inn singing "that old sea-song"

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

Bones becomes a long-term lodger at the inn, only paying for about the first week of his stay. Jim quickly realizes that Bones is in hiding, and that he particularly dreads meeting an unidentified seafaring man with one leg. Some months later, Bones is visited by a mysterious sailor named Black Dog. Their meeting turns violent, Black Dog flees and Bones suffers a stroke. While Jim cares for him, Bones confesses that he was once the mate of a notorious late pirate, Captain Flint, and that his old crewmates want Bones' sea chest. Some time later, another of Bones' crew mates, a blind man named Pew, appears at the inn and forces Jim to lead him to Bones. Pew gives Bones a paper. After Pew leaves, Bones opens the paper to discover it is marked with the Black Spot, a pirate summons, with the warning that he has until ten o'clock to meet their demands. Bones drops dead of apoplexy (in this context, a stroke) on the spot. Jim and his mother open Bones' sea chest to collect the amount due to them for Bones' room and board, but before they can count out the money that they are owed, they hear pirates approaching the inn and are forced to flee and hide, Jim taking with him a mysterious oilskin packet from the chest. The pirates, led by Pew, find the sea chest and the money, but are frustrated that there is no sign of "Flint's fist". Customs men approach and the pirates escape to their vessel (all except for Pew, who is accidentally run down and killed by the agents' horses).

pp. 27–8: "...[Pew] made another dash, now utterly bewildered, right under the nearest of the coming horses. The rider tried to save him, but in vain. Down went Pew with a cry that rang high into the night; and the four hoofs trampled and spurned him and passed by. He fell on his side, then gently collapsed upon his face, and moved no more."

—Stevenson, R.L.

Jim takes the mysterious oilskin packet to Dr. Livesey, as he is a "gentleman and a magistrate", and he, Squire Trelawney and Jim Hawkins examine it together, finding it contains a logbook detailing the treasure looted during Captain Flint's career, and a detailed map of an island with the location of Flint's treasure marked on it. Squire Trelawney immediately plans to commission a sailing vessel to hunt for the treasure, with the help of Dr. Livesey and Jim. Livesey warns Trelawney to be silent about their objective. Going to Bristol docks, Trelawney buys a schooner named the Hispaniola, hires a captain, Alexander Smollett, to command her, and retains Long John Silver, a former sea cook and now the owner of the dock-side "Spy-Glass" tavern, to run the galley. Silver helps Trelawney to hire the rest of his crew. When Jim arrives in Bristol and visits Silver at the Spy-Glass, his suspicions are aroused: Silver is missing a leg, like the man Bones warned Jim about, and Black Dog is sitting in the tavern. Black Dog runs away at the sight of Jim, and Silver denies all knowledge of the fugitive so convincingly that he wins Jim's trust. Despite Captain Smollett's misgivings about the mission and Silver's hand-picked crew, the Hispaniola sets sail for the Caribbean.

As they near their destination, Jim crawls into the ship's near-empty apple barrel to get an apple. While inside, he overhears Silver talking secretly with some of the crewmen. Silver admits that he was Captain Flint's quartermaster, that several others of the crew were also once Flint's men, and that he is recruiting more men from the crew to his own side. After Flint's treasure is recovered, Silver intends to murder the Hispaniola's officers, and keep the loot for himself and his men. When the pirates have returned to their berths, Jim warns Smollett, Trelawney and Livesey of the impending mutiny. On reaching Treasure Island, the majority of Silver's men go ashore immediately. Although Jim is not yet aware of this, Silver's men have demanded they seize the treasure immediately, discarding Silver's own more careful plan to postpone any open mutiny or violence until after the treasure is safely aboard. Jim lands with Silver's men, but runs away from them almost as soon as he is ashore. Hiding in the woods, Jim sees Silver murder Tom, a crewman loyal to Smollett. Running for his life, he encounters Ben Gunn, another ex-crewman of Flint's who has been marooned for three years on the island, but who treats Jim kindly.

Meanwhile, Trelawney, Livesey and their loyal crewmen surprise and overpower the few pirates left aboard the Hispaniola. They row ashore and move into an abandoned, fortified stockade where they are joined by Jim Hawkins, who has left Ben Gunn behind. Silver approaches under a flag of truce and tries to negotiate Smollett's surrender; Smollett rebuffs him utterly, and Silver flies into a rage, promising to attack the stockade. "Them that die'll be the lucky ones," he famously threatens as he storms off. The pirates assault the stockade, but in a furious battle with losses on both sides, they are driven off. During the night Jim sneaks out, takes Ben Gunn's coracle and approaches the Hispaniola under cover of darkness. He cuts the ship's anchor rope, setting her adrift and out of reach of the pirates on shore. After daybreak, he manages to approach the schooner and board her. Of the two pirates left aboard, only one is still alive: the coxswain, Israel Hands, who has murdered his comrade in a drunken brawl and been badly wounded in the process. Hands agrees to help Jim helm the ship to a safe beach in exchange for medical treatment and brandy, but once the ship is approaching the beach Hands tries to murder Jim. Jim escapes by climbing the rigging, and when Hands tries to skewer him with a thrown dagger, Jim reflexively shoots Hands dead. Having beached the Hispaniola securely, Jim returns to the stockade under cover of night and sneaks back inside. Because of the darkness, he does not realize until too late that the stockade is now occupied by the pirates, and he is captured. Silver, whose always-shaky command has become more tenuous than ever, seizes on Jim as a hostage, refusing his men's demands to kill him or torture him for information. Silver's rivals in the pirate crew, led by George Merry, give Silver the Black Spot and move to depose him as captain. Silver answers his opponents eloquently, rebuking them for defacing a page from the Bible to create the Black Spot and revealing that he has obtained the treasure map from Dr. Livesey, thus restoring the crew's confidence. The following day, the pirates search for the treasure. They are shadowed by Ben Gunn, who makes ghostly sounds to dissuade them from continuing, but Silver forges ahead and locates where Flint's treasure is buried. The pirates discover that the cache has been rifled and the treasure is gone.

One More Step, Mr. Hands by N. C. Wyeth, 1911, for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The enraged pirates turn on Silver and Jim, but Ben Gunn, Dr. Livesey and Abraham Gray attack the pirates, killing two and dispersing the rest. Silver surrenders to Dr. Livesey, promising to return to his duty. They go to Ben Gunn's cave where Gunn has had the treasure hidden for some months. The treasure is divided amongst Trelawney and his loyal men, including Jim and Ben Gunn, and they return to England, leaving the surviving pirates marooned on the island. Silver, through the help of the fearful Ben Gunn, escapes with a small part of the treasure, three or four hundred guineas. Remembering Silver, Jim reflects that "I dare say he met his old Negress [wife], and perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain Flint [his parrot]. It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another world are very small."


Treasure Island contains numerous references to fictional past events, gradually revealed throughout, that shed light upon the events of the main climax. These refer to the pirate Captain J. Flint, "the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that ever lived", who is dead before "Treasure Island" begins. Flint was captain of the Walrus, with a long career chiefly in the West Indies and along the coasts of the southern American colonies. His crew included several characters who also appear in the main story: Flint's first mate, William (Billy) Bones; his quartermaster John Silver; his gunner Israel Hands; and among his other sailors: George Merry, Tom Morgan, Pew, "Black Dog" and Allardyce (who becomes Flint's "pointer" toward the treasure). Many other former members of Flint's crew were on the Hispaniola, though it is not always possible to identify which were Flint's men and which later agreed to join the mutiny — such as the boatswain Job Anderson and a mutineer "John", killed at the rifled treasure cache. Flint and his crew were successful, ruthless, feared ("the roughest crew afloat") and rich, provided they could keep their hands on the money they stole. The bulk of the treasure Flint made by his piracy — £700,000 worth of gold, silver bars and a cache of armaments — was buried on a remote Caribbean island. Flint brought the treasure ashore from the Walrus with six of his sailors, and built a stockade on the island for defence. When they had buried the treasure, Flint returned to the Walrus alone —having murdered the other six. The whereabouts of the rest of Flint's money and his crew are obscure immediately thereafter, but Flint and the crew ended up in the town of Savannah, Georgia. Flint was ill, and his sickness was not helped by his immoderate consumption of rum. A map to the location of the treasure he kept to himself until his dying moments. On his sickbed, he sang the sea shanty "Fifteen Men" and ceaselessly called for more rum, with his face turning blue. His last living words were "Darby M'Graw! Darby M'Graw!", and then, following some profanity, "Fetch aft the rum, Darby!" Just before he died, he passed on the treasure map to the mate of the Walrus, Billy Bones (or so Bones always maintained). After Flint's death, the crew split up, most of them returning to England. They disposed of their shares of the unburied treasure diversely. John Silver held on to £2,000, putting it away safe in banks, and became a waterfront tavern keeper in Bristol, England. Pew spent £1,200 in a single year and for the next two years afterwards begged and starved. Ben Gunn returned to the treasure island with crew mates to try to find the treasure without the map, and as his efforts failed, he was marooned on the island and left. Bones, knowing himself to be a marked man for his possession of the map, looked for refuge in a remote part of England. His travels took him to the rural West Country seaside village of Black Hill Cove and the inn of the 'Admiral Benbow'.

Main characters[edit]

  • Billy Bones: The old seaman who stays at the Admiral Benbow inn. He is a pirate who has acquired the map that shows the location of Captain Flint's treasure. A drunken bully of a miser, he lives in fear of his old pirate mates tracing him and the map. Dies of a stroke as a result of too much rum drinking and the double shock of seeing Blind Pew and the realization that "Long John" Silver has tracked him down.
  • Jim Hawkins: The principal narrator of the story. He gets involved in the adventure because his parents own the Admiral Benbow inn where Billy Bones stays. Jim is a young boy (13–14 years old, he is 17 when he is retelling the story), and after his father's death he begins to make his own way in the world. He is recruited as cabin boy on the Hispaniola, and through his curiosity and courage, he plays a crucial role in the eventual defeat of the pirates: he retrieves the map of Treasure Island from Billy Bones; he becomes aware of Silver's plot and informs the ship's officers of the mutiny; and he meets Ben Gunn, which leads him to Ben's boat, which enables him to reboard and recapture the Hispaniola, killing Israel Hands in self-defence.
  • Dr. Livesey: The family physician who treats Jim Hawkins's dying father and also attends to Billy Bones. As the ship's doctor, he treats the wounded pirates, even though they are his enemies. Dr. Livesey is no stranger to violence, having in the past served the Duke of Cumberland and been wounded in battle.
  • Long John Silver: A one-legged pirate who was quartermaster to the notorious Captain Flint. He claims to have sailed with only two pirates-Edward England and John Flint and to have received as his share of loot as (£ 900) {England} and (£ 2,000) {Flint}. After "retiring" he invests his money in a Bristol Inn "the Spyglass". He is a very cunning, amoral man who puts on a friendly, helpful exterior while all the time planning treachery. Initially he was liked by Jim because he performs his duties as cook on the Hispaniola and he appears to be a model member of the crew. However, he soon reveals his ruthless, violent side, and once the buccaneers are on the island he murders one of the crew, as Jim watches. His original plan had been to wait until the treasure was found, murder everyone who did not turn buccaneer, and then flee with the treasure to Spanish America to meet his wife. Forced by Anderson, Hands and Merry to start the mutiny prematurely, he loses half the pirate crew on an attack on the block house, and after Jim steals the "Hispaniola" away from him, he bargains with the doctor for the blockhouse and treasure map in return for letting the others go away {to Benn Gunn's cave}. After Jim is accidentally captured by the mutineers, Silver brings Jim along as a hostage until the treasure cache is found empty; the enraged mutineers nearly kill both Silver and Jim but are ambushed by the doctor; Gray and Gunn. Stopping at Spanish America, he steals a small quarter of the treasure (£ 400) and flees the ship to meet his wife. At the end of the story Hawkins believes the old pirate is still living-although Jim forgets that all the remaining four mutineers have been permanently stricken with malaria.
  • Captain Smollett: The captain of the Hispaniola. At the beginning of the voyage he makes his misgivings known to Trelawney, who dislikes him. But Smollett is soon proved correct in his judgments and Trelawney is forced to change his opinion. As a captain, Smollett excels in his tasks, and proves his determinedness when the mutiny begins. He frequently takes charge of the situation and efficiently marshals the men for the defence of the loghouse. After he is wounded he takes no further part in the action. With his share of the treasure he retires.
  • Squire Trelawney: A rich landowner who finances the entire expedition. He buys the Hispaniola and selects a crew, but he cannot keep a secret and everyone seems to get to know about the nature of the mission. The squire is a well-travelled man and the best shot amongst the crew. He also shows effective leadership qualities and keeps a cool head throughout the adventure.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Alan: A sailor who does not mutiny. He is killed by the mutineers for his loyalty and his dying scream is heard by several.
  • Allardyce: One of the six members of Flint's Crew who, after burying the treasure and silver and building the blockhouse on Treasure Island, are all killed by Flint. His body is lined up by Flint as a compass marker to the cache. According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, his first name was Nick, he was surgeon on Flint's crew, and Ben Gunn was his servant and friend from back home.
  • Job Anderson: The ship's boatswain and one of the leaders of the mutiny who is killed while trying to storm the blockhouse; possibly one of Flint's old pirate hands (though this is never stated). Along with Hands and Merry tipped a "black spot" on Silver and forced Silver to start the mutiny before the treasure was found.
  • Mr. Arrow: The first mate of the Hispaniola. He drinks despite there being a rule about no alcohol on board and is useless as a first mate. He mysteriously disappears before they get to the island and his position is filled by Job Anderson. (Silver had secretly given him access to alcohol and he fell drunkenly overboard on a stormy night.)
  • Black Dog: Formerly a member of Flint's pirate crew, later one of Pew's companions who visits the Admiral Benbow. Spotted by Jim and chased by two of Silver's men, but disappears from sight. Two fingers are missing from his left hand.
  • Captain Flint: John Flint, the fictional pirate Captain of the Walrus. After robbing and looting towns and ships among the Spanish Main, in August 1750 he took six of his own crew onto Treasure Island. After building a stockade and burying the bulk of his looted treasure, he killed all six men. In July 1754 he died at Savannah, Georgia, of Cyanosis, caused by drinking too much rum. While dying he gives his treasure map to Billy Bones. Long John Silver's parrot is named after Captain Flint. Several members of his crew figure in the story: William "Billy" Bones, the ship's first mate; Long John Silver, the ship's quartermaster; Israel Hands, the ship's chief gunner; Allardyce, used as Flint's "pointer" to the treasure; Job Anderson, the Hispanolia boatswain and mutineer; Dirk, one of Pew's henchmen in the assault on the Admiral Benbow inn; Black Dog, another of Pew's henchmen in the assault on the Admiral Benbow inn; Benjamin Gunn, the island maroon; John, a Hispanolia mutineer, possibly one of Pew's henchmen on the assault on the Admirial Benbow inn; Tom Morgan, a Hispanolia mutineer; Blind Pew, the blind murderous begger; and an unnamed mutineer of the Hispanolia marooned with Morgan and Johnson on Treasure Island.
  • Abraham Gray: A ship's carpenter on the Hispaniola. He is almost incited to mutiny, but remains loyal to the Squire's side when asked to do so by Captain Smollett. He saves Hawkins' life by killing Job Anderson during an attack on the stockade, and he helps shoot the mutineers at the rifled treasure cache. He later escapes the island together with Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Long John Silver, and Ben Gunn. He spends his part of the treasure on his education, marries, and becomes part owner of a full-rigged ship.
  • Benjamin "Ben" Gunn: A former member of Flint's crew who became half insane after being marooned for three years on Treasure Island, having convinced another ship's crew that he was capable of finding Flint's treasure. Helps Jim by giving him the location of his homemade boat and kills two of the mutineers. After Dr. Livesey gives him what he most craves (cheese), Gunn reveals that he has found the treasure. In Spanish America he lets Silver escape, and in England spends his share of the treasure (£ 1,000) in 19 days, becoming a beggar until he becomes keeper at a lodge and a church singer "on Sundays and holy days".
  • Mr. Dance: Chief revenue officer (titled: Supervisor) who ascends with his men upon the Admiral Benbow, driving out the pirates, and saving Jim Hawkins and his mother. He then takes Hawkins to see the squire and the doctor.
  • Dogger: One of Mr Dance's associates, who doubles Hawkins on his horse to the squire's house.
  • Israel Hands: The ship's coxswain and Flint's old gunner. Killed on Hispaniola by Jim after he tries to murder Hawkins.
  • John: A mutineer who is injured while trying to storm the blockhouse. He is later shown with a bandaged head and ends up being killed at the rifled treasure cache.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins: The parents of Jim Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins dies shortly after the beginning of the story.
  • John Hunter: The other manservant of Squire Trelawney. He also accompanies him to the island, but is later knocked unconscious at an attack on the stockade. He dies of his injuries while unconscious.
  • Dick Johnson: A mutineer who has a Bible. The pirates use one of its pages to make a Black Spot. Mortally ill with malaria, Dick ends up being marooned on the island after the deaths of George Merry and John.
  • Richard Joyce: One of the manservants of Squire Trelawney, he accompanies him to the island. He is shot through the head and killed by a mutineer during an attack on the stockade.
  • George Merry: With Anderson and Hands he forces Silver to attack the blockhouse instead of waiting for the treasure to be found. Later killed at the empty cache just as he is about to kill both Silver and Hawkins.
  • Tom Morgan: An ex-pirate from Flint's old crew. He ends up marooned on the island.
  • O'Brien: A mutineer who survives the attack on the boathouse and escapes. He is later killed by Israel Hands in a drunken fight on the Hispaniola.
  • Pew: An evil and deadly blind beggar who is accidentally trampled to death by the horses of revenue officers riding to assist Jim Hawkins. Silver claims Pew spent his share of Flint's treasure(£ 1,200) in an entire year and that for two years until his accident at the "Admiral Benbow" he begged, stole, and murdered. Stevenson avoided predictability by making the two most fearsome characters a blind man and an amputee. In the play Admiral Guinea (1892), Stevenson gives him the full name "David Pew". Some film adaptations call him "Blind Pew". Stevenson's novel Kidnapped also features a dangerous blind man.
  • Tom Redruth: The gamekeeper of Squire Trelawney, he accompanies the Squire to the island but is shot and killed by the mutineers during an attack on the stockade.
  • Tom: An honest sailor. He starts to walk away from Silver who throws his crutch at him, breaking Tom's back. Silver kills Tom by stabbing him twice in the back.

Among other minor characters whose names are not revealed are the four pirates who were killed in an attack on the stockade along with Job Anderson; the pirate killed by the honest men minus Jim Hawkins before the attack on the stockade; the pirate shot by Squire Trelawney when aiming at Israel Hands, who later died of his injuries; and the pirate marooned on the island along with Tom Morgan and Dick.

Time frame[edit]

Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson deliberately leaves the exact date of the novel obscure, Hawkins writing that he takes up his pen "in the year of grace 17—." Stevenson's map of Treasure Island includes the annotations Treasure Island Aug 1 1750 J.F. and Given by above J.F. to Mr W. Bones Maste of ye Walrus Savannah this twenty July 1754 W B. The first of these two dates is likely the date at which Flint left his treasure at the island; the second, just prior to Flint's death. Flint is reliably reported to have died at least three years before the events of the novel (the length of time that Ben Gunn was marooned). Other dates mentioned include 1745, the date Dr. Livesey's served as a soldier at Fontenoy and also a date appearing in Billy Bones's log.

Historical allusions[edit]

Real pirates and piracies[edit]

  • Five real-life pirates mentioned are William Kidd (active 1696–99), Blackbeard (1716–18), Edward England (1717–20), Howell Davis (1718–19), and Bartholomew Roberts (1718–22). Kidd buried treasure on Gardiners Island, though the booty was recovered by authorities soon afterwards.[4]
  • The name "Israel Hands" was taken from that of a real pirate in Blackbeard's crew, whom Blackbeard maimed (by shooting him in the knee) simply to assure that his crew remained in terror of him. Allegedly Hands was taken ashore to be treated for his injury and was not at Blackbeard's last fight (the incident is depicted in Tim Powers' novel On Stranger Tides); this alone saved him from the gallows; supposedly he later became a beggar in England.
  • Silver refers to "three hundred and fifty thousand" pieces of eight at the "fishing up of the wrecked plate ships". This remark conflates two related events; first, the salvage of the treasure of the hurricane-wrecked 1715 Treasure Fleet off the coast of Florida, and second the seizure the following year of 350,000 salvaged pieces of eight (out of several million) by privateer Henry Jennings. This event is mentioned in the introduction to Johnson's General History of the Pyrates.
  • Silver refers to a ship's surgeon from Roberts' crew who amputated his leg and was later hanged at Cape Coast Castle, a British fortification on the Gold Coast of Africa. The records of the trial of Roberts' men list Peter Scudamore as the chief surgeon of Roberts' ship Royal Fortune. Scudamore was found guilty of willingly serving with Roberts' pirates and various related criminal acts, as well as attempting to lead a rebellion to escape once he had been apprehended. He was, as Silver relates, hanged, in 1722.
  • Stevenson refers to the Viceroy of the Indies, a ship sailing from Goa, India (then a Portuguese colony), which was taken by Edward England off Malabar while John Silver was serving aboard England's ship the Cassandra. No such exploit of England's is known, nor any ship by the name of the Viceroy of the Indies. However, in April 1721 the captain of the Cassandra, John Taylor (originally England's second in command who had marooned him for being insufficiently ruthless), together with his pirate partner, Olivier Levasseur, captured the vessel Nostra Senhora do Cabo near Réunion island in the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese galleon was returning from Goa to Lisbon with the Conde da Ericeira, the recently retired Viceroy of Portuguese India, aboard. The viceroy had much of his treasure with him, making this capture one of the richest pirate hauls ever. This is likely the event that Stevenson referred to, though his (or Silver's) memory of the event seems to be slightly confused. The Cassandra is last heard of in 1723 at Portobelo, Panama, a place that also briefly figures in Treasure Island as "Portobello".
  • The preceding two references are inconsistent, as the Cassandra (and presumably Silver) was in the Indian Ocean during the time that Scudamore was surgeon on board the Royal Fortune, in the Gulf of Guinea.

Other allusions[edit]

Robert Louis Stevenson
  • 1689: A pirate whistles "Lillibullero" (1689).
  • 1702: The Admiral Benbow Inn where Jim and his mother live is named after the real life Admiral John Benbow (1653–1702).
  • 1733: Captain Flint died in the town of Savannah, Georgia, founded in 1733.
  • 1745: Doctor Livesey was at the Battle of Fontenoy (1745).
  • 1747: Squire Trelawney and Long John Silver both mention "Admiral Hawke", i.e. Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke (1705–81), promoted to Rear Admiral in 1747.
  • 1749: The novel refers to the Bow Street Runners (1749).
  • Treasure Island was in part inspired by R. M. Ballantyne's The Coral Island,[5] which Stevenson admired for its "better qualities."[6] Stevenson alludes to Ballantyne in the epigraph at the beginning of Treasure Island, “To the Hesitating Purchaser", "...If studious youth no longer crave, His ancient appetites forgot, Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave, Or Cooper of the wood and wave..."

Possible allusions[edit]


  • Squire Trelawney may have been named for Edward Trelawney, Governor of Jamaica 1738–52.
  • Dr. Livesey may have been named for Joseph Livesey (1794–1884), a famous 19th-century temperance advocate, founder of the tee-total "Preston Pledge". In the novel, Dr. Livesey warns the drunkard Billy Bones that "the name of rum for you is death."[7][8]

Treasure Island[edit]

Dead Chest Island as viewed from Deadman's Bay, Peter Island
View of Fidra from Yellowcraigs
Map of Unst Island within Shetland

Various incompatible claims have been made that one island or another inspired Treasure Island:

  • Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, supposedly mentioned to a young Stevenson by a sailor uncle.[9]
  • Dead Chest Island, a barren rock in the British Virgin Islands, which Stevenson found mentioned in Charles Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies;[10] and which he said "was the seed" for the phrase "Dead Man's Chest".[11][12]
  • Small islands in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh, said to have been visible from Stevenson's bedroom window in Heriot Row.[13]
  • The Napa Valley, California, where Stevenson spent his honeymoon in 1880, as narrated in his The Silverado Squatters (1883).
  • Osborn (now Nienstedt) Island, an island in the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey. Stevenson supposedly visited the island in May 1888 (five years after writing Treasure Island) and christened it "Treasure Island"[14][15]
  • Fidra in the Firth of Forth, visible from North Berwick where Stevenson had spent many childhood holidays.[16]
  • Unst, one of the Shetland Islands, to which the map of Treasure Island bears a very vague resemblance.[17]
  • La Isla De La Juventud in Cuba is also associated by some with the book, and is supposed to have similarities with the map drawn by Stevenson, as well as historical connections with pirates. The island in the book is described as having pine trees running down to the shore and the Cuban island used to be called La Isla de Pinos, the Island of Pines.

In The Adventures of Ben Gunn, Gunn gives its real name as Kidd's Island, and identifies it as an outlying island of the Leeward and Windward Islands, south-south-west of Tobago (p. 119-120).

Admiral Benbow[edit]

Spyglass Tavern[edit]

  • The Hole in the Wall, Bristol is claimed to be the Spyglass Tavern.[20]

Flint's death house[edit]

The Pirate's House in Savannah, Georgia is where Captain Flint is claimed to have spent his last days,[21] and his ghost is claimed to haunt the property.[22]

Related works[edit]

Sequels and prequels[edit]

  • Stevenson's play Admiral Guinea (published 1892), written with W. E. Henley, features the blind ex-pirate Pew as a character under the name of "David Pew".
  • In his collection Fables (1896), Stevenson wrote a vignette called "The Persons of the Tale", in which puppets Captain Smollet and Long John Silver discuss authorship.[23]
  • A. D. Howden Smith (1924) wrote a prequel, Porto Bello Gold, that tells the origin of the buried treasure, recasts many of Stevenson's pirates in their younger years, and gives the hidden treasure some Jacobite antecedents not mentioned in the original.
  • H. A. Calahan (1935) wrote a sequel Back to Treasure Island. Calahan argued in his introduction that Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to write a continuation of the story.
  • R. F. Delderfield (1956) wrote The Adventures of Ben Gunn, which follows Ben Gunn from parson's son to pirate and is narrated by Jim Hawkins in Gunn's words.
  • Heinrich Rosemann (1963) wrote a sequel Der Piratenkapitän (The Pirate Captain) published by Göttinger Jugendbücher W. Fischer in Göttingen, Germany and available only in the German language.[citation needed]
  • Frank Delaney (2001) wrote a sequel, The Curse of Treasure Island using the pseudonym "Francis Bryan".[citation needed]
  • Roger L. Johnson (2001) wrote Dead Man's Chest:The Sequel to Treasure Island.[citation needed]
  • Pascal Bertho and artist Tom McBurnie (2007) created a comic-book sequel Sept Pirates.[citation needed]
  • Xavier Dorison and artist Mathieu Lauffray started the French graphic novel in four books Long John Silver in 2007. The final books still have to be published in France.[citation needed]
  • Edward Chupack (2008) wrote a sequel, Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me With a Goodly Amount of Murder.[citation needed]
  • John Drake (2008) wrote a prequel, Flint & Silver. Two more books followed: Pieces of Eight (2009) and Skull and Bones (2010).[24]
  • John O'Melveny Woods (2010) wrote a sequel, Return to Treasure Island.[25]
  • John Amrhein, Jr. (2011) wrote a true life prequel,Treasure Island: The Untold Story.[26]
  • Andrew Motion (2012), former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, wrote a sequel Silver: Return to Treasure Island.[27]

References in other works[edit]

  • In the novel Peter and Wendy (1911) by J. M. Barrie, it is said that Captain Hook is the only man ever feared by the Old Sea Cook (Long John Silver); Captain Flint and the Walrus are also referenced. There are a few other references.
  • Long John Silver and Treasure Island make an appearance in the 1994 film The Pagemaster.
  • Spike Milligan wrote a parody, Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan (2000).
  • In the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome the Amazons' (Blacketts') Uncle Jim has the nickname of Captain Flint and a parrot.
  • The Strong Winds trilogy of children's adventures by Julia Jones draws freely from events and names in Treasure Island.[28][29]
  • In the animated series Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates (based in part on the original Peter Pan stories) Captain Flint is referenced in the episode "Peter on Trial", as Captain Hook is stated as being the only man that a pirate named Barbecue is stated to fear, with the following statement being that 'Even Flint feared Barbecue', referring to Captain Flint from Treasure Island. In the same episode, Flint is referenced as being the pirate who supposedly conceived of the idea of pirates putting members of their crew, or their prisoners as the case might be, on trial in an event called 'Captain's Mast'.


Film and TV[edit]

There have been over 50 movie and TV versions made.[30] Some of the notable ones include:


Poster for the 1934 film Treasure Island, the first talkie adaptation of the novel


A number of Return to Treasure Island sequels have been produced, including a 1986 Disney mini-series, a 1992 animation version, and a 1996 and 1998 TV version.

Theatre and radio[edit]

There have been over 24 major stage and radio adaptations made.[32] The number of minor adaptations remains countless.


  • Charles Sheffield's 1993 novel Godspeed was a science-fictional retelling of Treasure Island, recasting the search for pirate treasure as the search for lost faster-than-light drive technology.



A computer game based loosely on the novel was issued by Commodore in the mid-1980s for the Plus/4 home computer, written by Greg Duddley. A graphical adventure game, the player takes the part of Jim Hawkins travelling around the island despatching pirates with cutlasses before getting the treasure and being chased back to the ship by Long John Silver. A catchy tune is included.

A game based on the book is also available for the ZX Spectrum. It was released in 1984 by Mr. Micro Ltd.

In 1985 another adventure game was named Treasure Island and based upon the novel. It was published by Windham Classics.[34]

Disney has released various video games based on the animated film Treasure Planet, including Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon.

Original manuscripts[edit]

Half of Stevenson's original manuscripts are lost, including those of Treasure Island, The Black Arrow and The Master of Ballantrae. Stevenson's heirs sold Stevenson's papers during World War I; many of Stevenson's documents were auctioned off in 1918.[35]


  1. ^ Cordingly, David (1995) Under the Black Flag: the romance and reality of life among the pirates; p. 7
  2. ^ The letters of Robert Louis Stevenson to his family and friends - Robert Louis Stevenson - Google Boeken. 1901. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "PERSONS REPRESENTED [Stevenson's play: Admiral Guinea]". Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Adams, Cecil The Straight Dope: Did pirates bury their treasure? Did pirates really make maps where "X marks the spot"? 5 October 2007
  5. ^ Brantlinger, Patrick (2009), Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-3304-3, p 33
  6. ^ "The Coral Island", Children's Literature Review, January 2009, retrieved 4 May 2012 – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  7. ^ Reed, Thomas L. (2006). The Transforming Draught: Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Victorian Alcohol Debate mustache. Pages 71-73.
  8. ^ Hothersall, Barbara. "Joseph Livesey". Retrieved 24 December 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Where's Where" (1974) (Eyre Methuen, London) ISBN 0-413-32290-4
  10. ^ At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871)
  11. ^ David Cordingly. Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0-679-42560-8.
  12. ^ Robert Louis Stevenson. "To Sidney Colvin. Late May 1884", in Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Page 263.
  13. ^ "Brilliance of 'World's Child' will come alive at storytelling event", (Scotsman, 20 October 2005).
  14. ^ Richard Harding Davis (1916). Adventures and Letters of Richard Harding Davis. See page 5[dead link] from Project Gutenberg.
  15. ^ [1][dead link] History of Brielle
  16. ^ "Fidra". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 18 June 2008. 
  17. ^ Unst island website
  18. ^ "Bristol's history". Visit Bristol. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "Admiral Benbow in Penzance, Mousehole, Land's End Peninsula, Pubs". Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Townsend (9 December 2007). "Hole in the Wall Queen Square Bristol". Flickr. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "The Pirates House history". Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "Ghost of Captain Flint". CNN. 31 October 2003. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  23. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis. Fables.
  24. ^ John Drake books at WorldCat
  25. ^ Return to Treasure Island at WorldCat
  26. ^ "Treasure Island: The Untold Story or The Real Treasure Island". New Maritima Press. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  27. ^ Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion – review by Ian Sansom in The Guardian, 30 March 2012
  28. ^ "Strong Winds Trilogy: The Salt-Stained Book by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt". The Bookbag. June 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  29. ^ "Characters develop nicely in book two". Otago Daily Times. 18 February 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  30. ^ Dury, Richard. Film adaptations of Treasure Island.
  31. ^ "SilentEra entry". Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  32. ^ Dury, Richard. Stage and Radio adaptations of Treasure Island.
  33. ^ "Tom Hewitt Is Long John Silver in Treasure Island, Opening March 5 in Brooklyn". Playbill. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  34. ^ Treasure Island at MobyGames; Treasure Island at GameFAQs; Sol Guber: Treasure Island, Antic Vol. 5 Nr.1, 5/1986, p.81.
  35. ^ "Bid to trace lost Robert Louis Stevenson manuscripts". BBC News. 9 July 2010. 


  • Cordingly, David (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0-679-42560-8
  • Letley, Emma, ed. (1998). Treasure Island (Oxford World's Classics). ISBN 0-19-283380-4
  • Pietsch, Roland (2010). The Real Jim Hawkins: Ships' Boys in the Georgian Navy. ISBN 978-1-84832-036-9
  • Reed, Thomas L. (2006). The Transforming Draught: Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Victorian Alcohol Debate. ISBN 0-7864-2648-9
  • Watson, Harold (1969). Coasts of Treasure Island;: A study of the backgrounds and sources for Robert Louis Stevenson's romance of the sea. ISBN 0-8111-0282-3

External links[edit]