The Blue Lagoon (novel)

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The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon Stacpoole.jpg
Author Henry De Vere Stacpoole
Country Great Britain
Language English
Series Blue Lagoon trilogy
Genre Romance
Publisher T. Fisher Unwin
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 328 pp
Followed by The Garden of God

The Blue Lagoon[1] is a romance novel written by Henry De Vere Stacpoole first published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1908. It is the first novel of the Blue Lagoon trilogy, which also includes The Garden of God (1923) and The Gates of Morning (1925). The novel has inspired several film adaptations, most notably The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields as Emmeline and Christopher Atkins as Richard (known as "Dicky" in the book).

Plot summary[edit]

The story focuses on two children, Dicky and Emmeline Lestrange, and a galley cook, who are marooned on an island in the South Pacific after a shipwreck. The galley cook, Paddy Button, assumes responsibility for the children and teaches them how to behave, how to forage for food, and other things that a parent might teach their children. He also warns the children not to eat the "arita" berries, which he calls "the never-wake-up berries."

Two and a half years after they are marooned, Paddy dies during a drunken binge.[1] The children, who are cousins, survive on their resourcefulness and the bounty of their remote paradise. Years pass, and Dicky and Emmeline grow into physically mature young adults. They live in a hut they built together and spend their days fishing, swimming, diving for pearls, and exploring the island.

Dicky and Emmeline begin to fall in love, but because of their ignorance of human sexuality, do not realize it. They do not understand or know how to express their physical attraction to one another. Ultimately, they make up after a fight and consummate their relationship. The author, Henry De Vere Stacpoole, describes their sexual encounter as having "been conducted just as the birds conduct their love affairs. An affair absolutely natural, absolutely blameless, and without sin. It was a marriage according to nature, without feast or guests."[2]

Dicky becomes very attentive to Emmeline, listening to her stories and bringing her gifts. Over several months, they make love quite often and eventually Emmeline becomes pregnant. However, Dicky and Emmeline don't understand the physical changes happening to Emmeline's body and have no knowledge of childbirth. One day, Emmeline disappears. Dicky searches for her all day but he can't find her. He returns to their house and eventually sees her walking out of the forest carrying a baby. Knowing nothing about babies, they learn by trial and error the child will not drink fruit juice but will nurse from Emmeline's breast. They give their little boy the name Hannah because both Emmeline and Dicky have only ever known a baby called by the same name.

Dicky and Emmeline then spend all their time with Hannah, teaching him how to swim, fish, throw spears and play in the mud. They survive a violent tropical cyclone and other hazards of South Sea Island life.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Dicky's father, Arthur (Emmeline's uncle), believes Dicky and Emmeline are alive and is determined to find them. The strongest lead is a child's toy tea set, picked up on an island the sailors call Palm Tree. Ships stop on the island for freshwater and someone on a whaler had picked up the box out of curiosity. Arthur recognizes the tea set as an old toy of Emmeline's and finds a ship whose captain is willing to take him to Palm Tree.

One day, the young parents and Hannah row their lifeboat to the side of the island where Dicky and Emmeline had lived with Paddy. Emmeline breaks off a branch of the deadly "never-wake-up" berries which Paddy warned her about, and Dicky cuts bananas on the shore. While in the boat with her son, Emmeline fails to notice that Hannah has tossed one of the oars out of the boat. The tide comes in and sweeps the boat into the lagoon, leaving Emmeline and Hannah stranded. Dicky swims to them but is followed by a shark. He is saved when Emmeline throws the other oar, striking the shark and allowing Dicky enough time to climb in.

Although not far from shore, they cannot get back without the oars. They fear jumping into the water to retrieve them because of the shark. The boat is then caught in the current and drifts out to sea. Still clasped in Emmeline's hand is the branch of arita.

Arthur Lestrange's ship then comes upon the lifeboat and finds Dicky, Emmeline, and Hannah unconscious but still breathing. The arita branch is now bare, except for one berry. Lestrange asks, "Are they dead?" and the captain answers, "No, sir. They are asleep." The ambiguous ending leaves uncertain whether or not the three can be revived.


  • Emmeline Lestrange - a shipwrecked orphan, the heroine
  • Dicky Lestrange - Emmeline's cousin, the hero
  • Paddy Button - the galley cook of the wrecked ship
  • Arthur Lestrange - Dicky's father and Emmeline's uncle
  • Hannah Lestrange - Dicky and Emmeline's son


Several films have been based on this novel:


  1. ^ a b "The Blue Lagoon". Retrieved 2014-09-23. 
  2. ^ Stacpoole, H. de Vere. 2014. The Blue Lagoon. Cherry Hill Publishing. Accessed September 15. Book URL.

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