Treasure Island

Treasure Island
Treasure Island  
Treasure Island-Scribner's-1911.jpg
Cover illustration by N.C. Wyeth from 1911
Author(s) Robert Louis Stevenson
Cover artist N.C. Wyeth
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Adventure
Young Adult Literature
Publisher London: Cassell and Company (Now part of Orion Publishing Group)
Publication date 1883

Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "pirates and buried gold". First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881–82 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 an adventure tale known 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 then and now. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates is enormous, including treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen carrying parrots on their shoulders.[1]


Plot summary

Jim Hawkins sitting in the apple-barrel, listening to the pirates

The novel is divided into 6 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 a seaside village in south-west England in the mid-18th century. The narrator, James "Jim" Hawkins, is the young son of the owners of the Admiral Benbow Inn. An old drunken seaman named Billy 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 the late notorious pirate, Captain Flint, and that his old crewmates want Bones's sea chest. Some time later, another of Bones's 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's 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). p 34: "...{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 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 cable, 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 escapes with the help of the fearful Ben Gunn and a small part of the treasure 3/400 Guinea (British coin) {3/400 {GBP}. 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."

Pirate Captain Flint

Treasure Island contains numerous references to fictional past events, gradually revealed throughout, that shed light upon the events of the main plot.

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 a number of 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. A map to the location of the treasure he kept to himself until his dying moments.

The whereabouts of Flint and his crew are obscure immediately thereafter, but they ended up in the town of Savannah, Province of Georgia. Flint was ill, and his sickness was not helped by his immoderate consumption of rum. 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'.

Other characters

  • Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins: The parents of Jim Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins dies shortly after the beginning of the story.
  • 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
  • Black Dog: Formerly a member of Flint's pirate crew, later one of Pew's companions who visits the Spyglass Inn. Spotted by Jim and chased by two of Silver's men, but disappears from sight.
  • Thomas "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.
  • Pew: An evil and deadly blind beggar who is trampled to death in a stampede of horses. Stevenson avoided predictability by making the two most fearsome characters a blind man and an amputee.
  • Richard Joyce: One of the manservants of Squire Trelawney, he accompanies him to the island but is shot through the head and killed by a mutineer during an attack on the stockade.
  • 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.
  • 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's 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.
  • George Merry: With Anderson and Hands he forced 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.
  • 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).
  • John: A mutineer who is injured while trying to storm the boathouse; he is later shown with a bandaged head and ends up being killed at the rifled treasure cache; possibly one of Flint's old pirate hands (though this is never stated).
  • O'Brien: A mutineer who survives the attack on the boathouse and escapes but is later killed by Israel Hands in a drunken fight on the Hispaniola; possibly one of Flint's old pirate hands (though this is never stated).
  • 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.
  • 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 falls drunkenly overboard on a stormy night}.
  • 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.
  • Alan: A sailor who does not mutiny. He is killed by the mutineers for his loyalty and his dying scream is heard by several.
  • Israel Hands: The ship's coxswain and Flint's old gunner. Killed on Hispaniola by Jim.
  • Benjamin "Ben" Gunn: A former member of Flint's crew who is 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 GBP) in 18 days, becoming a beggar until he becomes keeper at a lodge and a church singer.
  • There are other minor characters whose names are not revealed. Some are the four pirates who were killed in an attack on the stockade along with Job Anderson; the pirate who was killed by the honest men minus Jim Hawkins before the attack on the stockade; the pirate who was shot by Squire Trelawney (who was aiming at Israel Hands) and later died of his injuries; and the pirate who was marooned on the island along with Tom Morgan and Dick.

Allusions and references

Actual geography

Deadchest island as viewed from Deadman's Bay, Peter Island
Map of Unst Island within Shetland

There are a number of islands which could be the real-life inspiration for Treasure Island. One story goes that a mariner uncle had told the young Stevenson tales of his travels to Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, thus this could mean Norman Island was an indirect inspiration for the book.[2] Nearby Norman Island in the Virgin Islands is Dead Man's Chest Island, which Stevenson found in a book by Charles Kingsley.

Stevenson said "Treasure Island came out of Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies;[3] "where I got the 'Dead Man's Chest' - that was the seed".[4][5] If it was "the seed" for Skeleton Island, the phrase "dead man's chest", the novel in general, or all, remains unclear. Other contenders are the small islands in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh, as "Robert Louis Stevenson lived in Heriot Row and it is thought that the wee pond he could see from his bedroom window in Queen Street Gardens provided the inspiration for Treasure Island".[6]

There are a number of Inns which claim to have been the inspiration for places in the book. In Bristol, the Llandoger Trow is claimed to be the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow,[7]; in Penzance, Land's End Peninsula, Cornwall there is a 17th-century Inn named Admiral Benbow.[8] The Hole in the Wall, Bristol is claimed to be the Spyglass Tavern.[9] The Pirate's House in Savannah, Georgia is where Captain Flint is supposed to have spent his last days,[10] and his ghost is claimed to haunt the property.[11]

In 1883 Stevenson had also published The Silverado Squatters, a travel narrative of his honeymoon in 1880 in Napa Valley, California. His experiences at Silverado were kept in a journal called "Silverado Sketches", and many of his notes of the scenery around him in Napa Valley provided much of the descriptive detail for Treasure Island.

In May 1888 Stevenson spent about a month in Brielle, New Jersey along the Manasquan River. On the river is a small wooded island, then commonly known as "Osborn Island". One day Stevenson visited the island and was so impressed he whimsically re-christened it "Treasure Island" and carved his initials into a bulkhead. This took place five years after he had completed the novel. To this day, many still refer to the island as such. It is now officially named Nienstedt Island, honoring the family who donated it to the borough.[12][13]

The map of the island bears a vague resemblance to that of the island of Unst in Shetland. The Unst island website claims that Stevenson wrote Treasure Island following a visit to Unst.

Actual history

Allusions to historical pirates and piracies

  • Five real-life pirates mentioned are William Kidd (active 1696-1699), Blackbeard (1716–1718), Edward England (1717–1720), Howell Davis (1718–1719), and Bartholomew Roberts (1718–1722).
  • 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 a ship's surgeon from Roberts' crew who amputated his leg and was later hanged at Cape Corso Castle, a British fortification on the Gold Coast of Africa. The records of the trial of Roberts' men list one 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.
  • 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 [14] did capture 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 entire time that Scudamore was surgeon on board the Royal Fortune, in the Gulf of Guinea.
  • One actual pirate who buried treasure on an island was William Kidd on Gardiners Island. The booty was recovered by authorities soon afterwards.[15]

X marks the Spot

There appears to be no evidence of any real pirate ever having had a "treasure map" as such[16]. However, logically any chart or map could and would have a mark added as an "aide memoire" to a site of concealment. The concept of "X marking the spot", now forever connected to pirate folklore appears an invention of Stevenson.

Other allusions

  • 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 (1705–1781), promoted to Rear Admiral in 1747.
  • 1749: The novel refers to the Bow Street Runners (1749).

Possible influences

  • Squire Trelawney may have been named for Edward Trelawney, Governor of Jamaica 1738-1752.
  • 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."[17][18]

Historical time frame

Stevenson deliberately leaves the exact date of the novel obscure, Hawkins writing that he takes up his pen "in the year of grace 17--." However, some of the action can be connected with dates, although it is unclear if Stevenson had an exact chronology in mind. The first date is 1745, as established both by Dr. Livesey's service at Fontenoy and a date appearing in Billy Bones's log. Admiral Hawke is a household name, implying a date later than 1747, when Hawke gained fame at the Battle of Cape Finisterre and was promoted to Admiral, but prior to Hawke's death in 1781.

Another hint, though obscure, as to the date is provided by Squire Trelawney's letter from Bristol in Chapter VII, where he indicates his wish to acquire a sufficient number of sailors to deal with "natives, buccaneers, or the odious French". This expression suggests that Great Britain was, at that time, at war with France; e.g., during the Seven Years' War from 1756 to 1763.

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. As 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), it cannot take place earlier than 1757 and still be consistent with the map. The events of Treasure Island would therefore seem to have taken place no earlier than 1757. As the schooner Hispaniola docks peacefully at a port in Spanish America — where it even finds a British man-of-war — at the end of the story, it must also take place before January 1762, when Spain joined the Seven Years' War against Great Britain. As the main action of the book takes place between January and August of a single year, the evidence above implies a year between 1758 and 1761, inclusive.

This range of dates, however, contradicts Long John Silver's account of himself, as given to Dick while Jim Hawkins listened in the apple barrel. Silver claims to be fifty years old, which would place his birth no earlier than 1708; and both Silver and Israel Hands, who had been in Flint's crew together, claim to have had experience on the sea (presumably as pirates) for thirty years prior to their arrival at Treasure Island, i.e. since about 1728. However, Silver claims to have sailed "First with England, then with Flint", which pushes the beginning of his career to some time before 1720, the date of Captain Edward England's death, implying a longer career at sea than thirty years. Silver also says that the surgeon who amputated his leg was hanged with Roberts's crew at Corso Castle: this would mean he has been disabled at least since 1722, at an age no greater than 14—-an age incompatible with his holding as significant an office as quartermaster under Captain Flint, or with being a crewman under England who was senior enough, and served long enough, to have "laid by nine hundred [pounds] safe".

As noted under Actual history, some of the people and events Silver claims to have witnessed were on opposite sides of Africa at the same time, and Silver's assignments of names and places are not entirely accurate. Silver's stories, then, may be no more reliable than his claim to have lost his leg while serving under Admiral Hawke, and containing inconsistencies which his audience were too ignorant to notice. Silver must either be closer to sixty than fifty, or his stories of the pirates England and Roberts are fabrications, retellings of stories he had heard from other pirates, into which he has inserted himself-—which would account for their inconsistencies.

Sequels and prequels

  • 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.[19]
  • In the novel Peter Pan (1911) by J. M. Barrie, it is said that Captain Hook is the only man the old Sea-Cook ever feared. Captain Flint and the Walrus are also referenced.
  • Author A. D. Howden Smith wrote a prequel, Porto Bello Gold (1924), 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.
  • Author H. A. Calahan wrote a sequel Back to Treasure Island (1935). Calahan argued in his introduction that Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to write a continuation of the story.
  • Author R. F. Delderfield wrote The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1956) which follows Ben Gunn from parson's son to pirate and is narrated by Jim Hawkins in Gunn's words.
  • Author Heinrich Rosemann wrote a sequel Der Piratenkapitän (The Pirate Captain) published by Göttinger Jugendbücher W. Fischer in Göttingen, Germany in 1963 (available in German only)
  • Author Leonard Wibberley wrote a sequel, Flint's Island (1972).
  • Author Robert Leeson wrote a sequel. Silver's Revenge (1978).
  • Author Denis Judd wrote a sequel, Return to Treasure Island (1978).
  • Author Bjorn Larsson wrote a sequel, Long John Silver (1999).
  • Author Frank Delaney wrote a sequel, The Curse of Treasure Island (2001) using the pseudonym "Francis Bryan".
  • Author Roger L. Johnson wrote Dead Man's Chest:The Sequel to Treasure Island (2001).
  • Writer Pascal Bertho and artist Tom McBurnie created a comic-book sequel Sept Pirates" (2007)
  • Writer 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.
  • Author Edward Chupack wrote a sequel, Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me With a Goodly Amount of Murder (2008).
  • Author John Drake wrote a prequel, Flint & Silver (2008)[20] Two more books followed: Pieces of Eight (2009) and Skull and Bones (2010).
  • Author John O'Melveny Woods wrote a sequel, Return to Treasure Island (2010).
  • Author Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, is working on a sequel as reported in 2010.[21]
  • Author John Amrhein, Jr. wrote a true life prequel, [22] Treasure Island: The Untold Story (2011).

References in other works

  • German metal band Running Wild, who are known for their lyrics on piracy, wrote an 11 minute epic on the story on their 1992 album Pile of Skulls.
  • 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).
  • Avi, author of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, wrote the foreword to the 2000 edition of Treasure Island from Alladin Classics.
  • In LucasArts' The Curse of Monkey Island, the main character Guybrush Threepwood sings a commercial jingle about "Silver's Long Johns" (they breathe!) in an attempt to be the fourth member of a barbershop quartet.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Hector Barbossa names his pet monkey after Jack Sparrow, a captain he mutinied against. This is a reference to Long John Silver naming his parrot after his former commander Captain Flint.
  • According to the screenwriters' commentary on the DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the captain killed by an East India Trading Company official early in the movie is Jim Hawkins' lost father. This is, however, contrary to the original book: Jim Hawkins' father died at the Admiral Benbow Inn, in the company of Jim and his mother, in chapter three. Dead Man's Chest also makes use of a "black spot".
  • In Dutch author Reggie Naus' children's novel De schat van Inktvis Eiland ("The treasure of Squid Island") (2008), the main character's last name is Stevenson. Though the plot is unrelated to Stevenson's novel, the pirates in this book brush shoulders with characters from Treasure Island. Another character in the novel, the quartermaster Walter Gunn, is Ben Gunn's older brother. The song "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest" features frequently in the book. The writer is a big fan of Stevenson's book and included these references in tribute.
  • In the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome the Amazons' (Blacketts') Uncle Jim has the nickname of Captain Flint and a parrot.
  • Alan Coren wrote an article in Punch, entitled "A Life on the Rolling Mane", parodying Treasure Island to adapt it to the National Hairdressers' Association's campaign to stamp out "pirate barbers". Notable lines are Bald Pew's "Remember the days of the old clippers?" and Hawkins' memories of the "boom of the scurf".
  • The seafood restaurant chain "Long John Silver's" was named after the main villain.
  • In the Zoobilee Zoo episode "Is There a Doctor in the House?", three of the Zoobles play three of the characters in Treasure Island, with Bravo Fox playing the main villain.
  • 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'.
  • In Mission to Mars, Ben Gunn is mentioned by Don Cheadle's character in the opening scene; his own plight later in the film refers back to Gunn's.
  • In Italo Calvino's novel The Cloven Viscount appears a Dr. Trelawney. Calvino declared later that it was a conscious homage to Stevenson.
  • In Batman (1966) Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman and their pirate crew hideout is the "Ye Old Admirial Benbow tavern"
  • In Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Film and TV

There have been over 50 movie and TV versions made.[23] Some of the notable ones include:


  • 1982 - Treasure Island - Soviet film in three parts; almost verbatim to the text of the novel. Featuring Oleg Borisov as Long John Silver.
  • 1985 - L'Île au trésor
  • 1987 - L'isola del tesoro - Italian / German SF adaptation AKA Treasure Island in Outer Space starring Anthony Quinn as Long John Silver.
  • 1988 - Treasure Island - A critically acclaimed Soviet animation film in two parts. Released in the USA 1992 as Return to Treasure Island.
  • 1996 - Muppet Treasure Island
  • 1999 - Treasure Island - Starring Kevin Zegers and Jack Palance.
  • 2002 - Treasure Planet - A Disney animated version set in space, with Long John Silver as a cyborg and many of the original characters re-imagined as aliens and robots, except for Jim and his mother, who are human.
  • 2006 - Pirates of Treasure Island - A direct-to-DVD film by The Asylum, which was released one month prior to Dead Man's Chest.
  • 2007 - Die Schatzinsel. A loosely adapted version, in German, starring German and Austrian actors, of the original novel.


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

Theatre and radio

There have been over 24 major stage and radio adaptations made.[25] The number of minor adaptations remains countless.


  • The Ben Gunn Society album released in 2003 presents the story centered around the character of Ben Gunn, based primarily on Chapter XV "Man of the Island" and other relevant parts of the book.
  • Treasure Island song from Running Wild's album named Pile of Skulls (1992). This song tells the novel's story.
  • The Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik performed the songs "I'm Still Here (Jim's Theme)" and "Always Know Where You Are" for Disney's animated film Treasure Planet, .


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.[27]

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


  1. ^ Cordingly, David (1995) Under the Black Flag: the romance and reality of life among the pirates; p. 7
  2. ^ "Where's Where" (1974) (Eyre Methuen, London) ISBN 0-413-32290-4
  3. ^ At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871)
  4. ^ David Cordingly. Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN 0-679-42560-8.
  5. ^ Robert Louis Stevenson. "To Sidney Colvin. Late May 1884", in Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Page 263.
  6. ^ "Brilliance of 'World's Child' will come alive at storytelling event", (Scotsman, 20 October 2005).
  7. ^ "Bristol's history". Visit Bristol. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  8. ^ "Admiral Benbow in Penzance, Mousehole, Land's End Peninsula, Pubs". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  9. ^ Townsend (2007-12-09). "Hole in the Wall Queen Square Bristol". Flickr. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  10. ^ "The Pirates House history". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  11. ^ "Ghost of Captain Flint". 2003-10-31. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  12. ^ Richard Harding Davis (1916). Adventures and Letters of Richard Harding Davis. See page 5 from Project Gutenberg.
  13. ^ [1] History of Brielle
  14. ^ Olivier Levasseur
  15. ^ Adams, Cecil The Straight Dope: Did pirates bury their treasure? Did pirates really make maps where "X marks the spot"? October 5, 2007
  16. ^ The Second Book of General Ignorance, Faber and Faber, 2010
  17. ^ Reed, Thomas L. (2006). The Transforming Draught: Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Victorian Alcohol Debate. Pages 71-73.
  18. ^ Hothersall, Barbara. "Joseph Livesey". Retrieved 24 December 2009. [dead link]
  19. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis. Fables'.
  20. ^ Greene & Heaton. John Drake's Flint & Silver.
  21. ^ [2], The Guardian, 26 March 2010
  22. ^ [3]
  23. ^ Dury, Richard. Film adaptations of Treasure Island.
  24. ^ "SilentEra entry". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  25. ^ Dury, Richard. Stage and Radio adaptations of Treasure Island.
  26. ^ "Tom Hewitt Is Long John Silver in Treasure Island, Opening March 5 in Brooklyn". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  27. ^ Treasure Island at MobyGames; Treasure Island at GameFAQs; Sol Guber: Treasure Island, Antic Vol. 5 Nr.1, 5/1986, p.81.


  • 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: 9781848320369
  • 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


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