What with it being Robert Louis Stevenson's birthday today, I've been rooting through the archive (extensive as it is) for references and letters between the two men.
It's a much bigger task than I ever imagined and goes far beyond the information I published on line this time last year.
This year my interest was sparked by comments from Stevenson to both Crockett and Barrie, inviting them to come out and visit him in Samoa. These stem from 1893-4. Barrie and Crockett hatched a plan to go and visit him, but the plan never came off. I can't help but imagine what might have happened if they did.
It would have had to be in the spring/summer of 1894. Barrie got sick and that put him out of the picture. And he married the woman who nursed him back to health - Mary Anstell - so if he'd gone to Samoa we can suggest he might not have got married.
For Crockett, 1894 was the year he really became 'hot property.' No fewer than 4 of his works were published in book form and he was busy writing Men of the Moss Hags as a serial for Good Words before its 1895 publication. And of course this was his last year in the ministry. Indeed letters in the archive reveal that the Crockett's moved from Free Church Manse to Bank House in April 1894 'I am leaving the Manse, I fear in time the Kirk also, but that we shall see'… and instead of Samoa, in May 1894 Crockett went off to ‘tramp Galloway’ for 10 days or so' This was in the last week of May. The reason? 'I am writing a long Covenanting story for Good Words next year.'
We can only speculate how different Crockett's life might have been had he taken the trip to Samoa - but I'm intending over the next year to do a lot more looking into this whole 'non' event and the relationships between the men. I promise that by RLS's birthday next year I'll have something more substantial to report, but for this year. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are transcripts of a couple of letters from 1887 and 1888 written by Crockett to Stevenson. I think they're interesting for a whole range of reasons .I hope you do too.
You'll need to be a member to access the Archives. It's free, so why not join today and get full access to all areas of the site - and don't forget to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, which gives more information than this monthly blog update!