“Treasure Island” was serialized in a children’s magazine, Young Folks, between 1881 and 1882. It was titled, “Treasure Island, or Mutiny of the Hispaniola”. The story was written under the pseudonym, Captain George North. Then it was published in book form in 1883.
The story is about a young boy, so it was written as an adventure story for boys. A story of pirates and treasure. A pirate walks into the inn owned by the father of Jim Hawkins. The pirate’s name is Bill Bones, and he has a map to a treasure on an island in a chest. He is a gravely old man who dies of a stroke after getting a notice that the pirates he had been running from, had found him. Jim finds the map and shares it with a doctor and squire near his home. They decide to get a ship and crew to find the treasure. But, the sailor they hire is Long John Silver, who they discover is a pirate. He has a two-hundred-year-old parrot that sings shanties and sits on his shoulder.
Long John Silver brings with him men who, they discover later, are also pirates. When they arrive at the island, the pirates mutiny. They take over the ship and try to get the treasure for themselves. The pirates and the regular sailors go back and forth on who has the ship. Jim comes across a crazy old man, Ben Gunn, who was marooned three years ago, by Captain Flint when he buried his treasure. After Long John Silver acquired the map from Jim’s friends, he and the pirates go for the treasure. They find that the treasure was moved by Ben Gunn years earlier. Jim’s friends set a trap and kill all the pirates except Long John Silver.
The few men left, set sail for home, taking Silver with them. He jumped ship before they landed, taking a couple bags of gold with him. Jim and his friends use the gold they have, but none of them want to go back to the haunted island, even if there is any treasure left in the ground.
“Treasure Island” begins with a map of the island. Then there is a poem written to give a push to any purchaser of the book who is pausing before buying it. He says that children of this day will love stories of buccaneers as he did when he was a child.
The first chapter opens the writer, Jim Hawkins, stating that he was asked to write his account by Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of the men who were residents of the Admiral Benbow, the inn kept by his father. They asked him to tell the story, but to leave out the exact location of the island, because there is still treasure located on it. He starts his story with his meeting of the ominous old seaman. “I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the saber cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterward – Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest – Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
The old sailor overpays for his room and board, then offers to pay young Jim, a fourpenny piece every week for keeping an eye out for a seafaring man with one leg. But, Jim often has trouble getting him to pay. Although the old man seems to be afraid of the one-legged man, he terrorizes the rest of the occupants of the inn by getting drunk, using rough language and singing sea songs. Whenever he is asked to stop, he gets angry.
One cold January day, another old seaman arrives. This man is missing two fingers and is asking for his old shipmate, Billy Bones. That is the name of the old seaman that is staying at their inn. When Bill Bones sees the new seaman, Black Dog, they begin to argue. Finally, Bill starts to pull his sword, but before he can use it, he has a stroke. Since the doctor has warned him against drinking any more rum, Bill tries to bribe Jim to bring him some rum. Jim finally agrees, and after the rum, Bill has more energy. He tells Jim that he has to leave. The crew of his old ship is after him because they want his chest. During that night, Jim’s father dies.
The next day, while on the way back from the funeral, Jim comes across an old blind man, who asks to be taken to see Bill. The blind man gives Bill a paper with a black spot on it. This is a summons for a secret pirate’s meeting. Bill becomes agitated. He tells Jim that he only has six hours left. But, as he tries to run, Bill has a fatal stroke. Jim calls for his mother and explains to her that the pirates are coming for Bill’s chest. They run to the neighbors to ask for help, but, they are all afraid of Flint, so mother and son are on their own. When they get back to the inn, they search Bill’s body for the key to the chest. They open the chest and find it full of gold coins. His mother takes some as her due, and Jim grabs some papers wrapped in an oil cloth. They run out of the inn and hide under a bridge. They can’t be seen, but they can hear all that happens in the inn. Jim peaks out of their hiding place and sees seven or eight men enter the inn. One of them is the blind man they call Pew. The men are angry when they see the chest only has gold in it. Pew tells the men to search the inn. Soon, a fight breaks out, and Jim hears a shot. Suddenly all the men run away, leaving Pew alone. As he wanders out, he is hit by men on horseback who have come to investigate.
When Jim and his mother go back to the inn, they find the place in shambles. Jim realizes the papers he has in his pocket are what the pirates were looking for. The head officer, Dance, wants to take the papers, but Jim insists on showing them to Dr. Livesey. Jim, Dance and the other riders head over to the doctor’s house, only to discover the doctor is dining at Squire Trelawney’s house.
Trelawney and Dr. Livesey are interested in the papers Jim has. They see the papers are from Capt. Flint, who is cruel and bloodthirsty. Flint has also gathered a huge fortune. In the pack is a list of all the places Flint had stolen his gold, and also a map showing the location of it now, including the longitude and latitude. Trelawney and Dr. Livesey are thrilled. They make plans to take a ship on the treasure hunt. Jim will be their cabin boy. The three plan to keep the maps secret
The ship they take is Hispaniola. Trelawney has hired Long John Silver, a one-legged seaman. Silver takes care of the rest of the crew. Jim and Tom Redruth leave for Bristol, where they meet Trelawney. He sends Jim with a note to Silver who is waiting at a pub. While he is there, he sees Black Dog. When he points him out to Silver, he agrees with him that Black Dog and Pew are bad men. As Silver and Jim walk to the ship, Silver tells Jim stories about life at sea. When Silver meets Liveley he is very respectful. Silver has won the trust of Jim. Liveley thinks Silver will be a good ship’s cook.
As they board the ship, the meet Mr. Arrow, the first mate, and Smollett, the captain. Smollett is very grumpy with an opinion on the crew of the ship. He is not pleased with them and is not happy that so many people know about the map. Smollett also tells them that he has a bad feeling about this voyage. After he walks away, Liveley says that he trusts Silver and Smollett. The voyage starts out on a bad note, Mr. Arrow gets drunk and then disappears. Job Anderson steps up to take the place of the first mate. Every day, Jim gets closer to Silver. He is fascinated by Silver’s ability to get around on one leg, and by his two hundred-year-old parrot, Cap’n Flint. Although Trelawney and Smollett aren’t getting along very well, the voyage continues.
One evening, Jim is trying to get an apple from the apple barrel when he overhears an interesting conversation. Silver is talking to a group of the crewmen. He tells them stories about his exploits with Flint. Jim discovers many of the crew were put there by Flint. They plan on stealing the treasure. As the men share some rum, the cry of “Land Ho!” is heard. Jim warns Trelawney, Liveley and Smollett, after Silver gives them advice on where to drop anchor. He tells them about what he overheard. Trelawney admits that he made a mistake hiring Silver and his friends. They wait in their cabin and decide to stay vigilant. Smollett sends Silver and his men to the shore, keeping his good men on board, so they can take control of the ship. Six men stay on board and thirteen go to the island. But, Jim manages to stow away on the boat with Silver as he rows to shore. The pirates believe they can easily find the treasure. The boat Jim is in is the fastest, so it reaches the shore first. Jim grabs a tree limb and pulls himself out of the boat. He disappears into the forest.
A few of the men don’t want to join the pirates and are killed. Terrified, Jim runs deeper into the island. He finds a mad man named, Ben Gunn, who was marooned on the island three years ago. Jim learns that Ben was left on the island by Flint. The pirate had six men help him bury his treasure on the island and then killed all six of them. Ben offers to show Jim where the treasure is in return for a trip home.
The men on the shore begin to worry about Jim. So Trelawney, Smollett, Livesey, Redruth, and Abraham Gray take a boat to the shore. They are attacked and lose their boat, taking refuge in a stockade they find on shore. Redruth is killed, but the rest managed to fight off the pirates. While they are in the stockade, they wonder about Jim, when he suddenly walks in. He and Ben had seen the Union Jack flying above the stockade. Ben assured him the pirates wouldn’t be flying that flag.
The stockade is attacked with a cannon and scatter. Jim looks at the ship from the shore and sees the Jolly Roger flying above it. He can hear the pirates singing drunken songs on the ship. Soon, Smollett gathers them all together and starts to assign duties. Then, Silver comes ashore, waving a flag of truce. He wants to make a deal with Smollett’s crew. He will allow them safe passage for the map. Smollett refuses and Silver leaves indignantly. Smollett puts the men on guard, so when the pirates attack they are prepared. More of the pirates are lost than Smollett’s men.
As they are waiting, Jim wants to do something heroic. He decides to find the boat Ben told him he had made. Then he will take the boat out to the ship and cut it loose. Jim manages to do it and then is set adrift in the boat. When he wakes up, he finds himself on the southwest end of the island. Jim begins to row and is soon near the ship again. He thinks to sneak up on the ship so he can get a drink. While he is there, his boat is destroyed, now he is trapped on the ship.
Jim finds two men on the ship. One is dead and lying next to him is Israel Hands. He is wounded and asks Jim to get him some brandy to drink. Jim discovers most of the alcohol is gone. When he brings the drink to Hand, Jim tells him that he is now the captain. Hand agrees that Jim is captain and wants to strike a deal with him. He will use his navigational skills if Jim will give him alcohol and medical help. Jim is happy to be the captain of the ship but doesn’t like the way Hand keeps looking at him. Jim knows he needs Hand to get to the island but is wary of the man. When the attack comes, Jim is prepared and fights him off. Hand attacks with a knife, pinning Jim to the mast, Jim shoots and kills Hand.
After removing the knife and taking care of his minor wound, Jim sees that he is close enough to the shore to swim, which he does. Once he is on the shore, Jim makes his way to the stockade. But, when he gets there, he hears Silver’s parrot. He realizes the stockade has been taken over by the pirates. But, is captured before he can get away. When he enters the pirate’s camp, Jim sees that there are only six pirates left. Silver speaks kindly to Jim and tells him, “I’ve always liked you, I have, for a lad of spirit, and the picture of my own self when I was young and handsome. I always wanted you to jine and take your share.” He continues by telling Jim that Dr. Livesey is angry with him for leaving. Jim doesn’t believe him and is glad to hear the men are still alive. Jim also notices that Silver is having trouble controlling his men.
Jim tells Silver that he is not afraid. He tells him about cutting the ship adrift and killing Hands. Silver is amused by Jim, but the men threaten sedition. Silver convinces Jim to play the part of hostage so he can show his authority. Then Silver says the two of them have to stick together. Then he says Livesey gave him the treasure map. After a conference, the pirates give Silver the black spot. They tell him they will no longer follow him. He argues that it is their fault, not his the plan fell apart. And, he reminds them that he is the one that got Dr. Livesey to treat their wounds. Then he throws the map down to prove his usefulness as a leader. Silver gives Jim the black spot for a souvenir. It is on a page from Revelations in the Bible.
The next morning when Dr. Livesey arrives to treat the pirates, he is surprised to see Jim. After tending to the pirates, Dr. Livesey asks to speak to Jim privately. Silver says he trusts the doctor not to steal his captive. Jim is worried that Dr. Livesey is angry at him, and he is right. But, when Jim explains that he knows where the ship is, the doctor says that Jim is saving their lives, again. He offers to take Jim, but Jim says it wouldn’t be right after he gave his word.
Breakfast is too big and wasteful. Afterward, Silver leads Jim on a leash as they all walk to where the treasure is buried. They come across a skeleton that is laid with an arm pointing towards the treasure. The pirates recognize it as a former member of Flint’s crew. They notice his knife is missing, which means they are not the first group to get this far.
Pirates are naturally superstitious, so the closer they get to the treasure, the more they worry about Flint’s ghost, especially when they hear the pirates song, “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” As they keep moving, the men hear a voice they recognize as Flint’s shouting his last words, “Fetch aft the rum, Darby!” One of the pirates takes out his Bible and begins to pray. When the pirates finally reach the site, they see the treasure has been removed, leaving an empty hole. The pirates turn on Silver, thinking that he knew the treasure was gone. As they are attacking him, Doctor Livesey, Abraham Gray, and Ben Gunn open fire and kill all the pirates, Silver kills the last one and thanks the men for saving him from the uprising.
Silver is glad to see Ben, who had found and moved the treasure to a cave years ago. That is why Doctor Livesey gave him the map. He knew the treasure had been moved. Since the doctor saw that Jim was with them, he decided to set a trap. He had Ben impersonate Flint and play on the pirate’s superstition. After they gather the treasure from the cave, the share a hearty meal. Then the next morning, they transport the coins to the ship. Jim is interested in the different origins of the coins. On the third day, they find three pirates who are drunk or crazy. They decide to leave the men marooned on the island, with some provisions. Then the ship sets sail for Bristol.
The ship went home with only five men. Captain Smollett took his share and retired from the sea. Ben Gunn opened a lodge with his share, and Gray became a mate and part owner of a ship and has a wife and children. One night Silver went overboard with a couple of bags of gold, never to be seen again. Jim concludes with the realization that some of Flint’s treasure is still on the island. But, Jim would never go back. Every time he thinks about it, he hears the voice of Captain Flint, “Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”
Jim Hawkins – a young teenage boy who lives in a small village near Bristol, in England. He is brave, intuitive and smart, but sometimes fool hardy. Most of the book is told in his voice. He begins by showing an interest in an old pirate who checks in to his father’s inn, the Admiral Benbow. He quickly becomes embroiled in the life of a pirate. His character doesn’t change a lot. He’s shown the same daring from the first, when he takes the map from the dead man’s chest, as well as when rows out to cut the ship loose.
Jim listens to the stories the old seamen tell with longing, so when the chance comes to go on an adventure, he jumps at it. He heads out to sea with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney, neighbors who he told about the treasure map he found in the chest of the newly dead old seaman who was his father’s boarder. The rest of the pirates from the seaman’s ship are also looking for the map. So when the ship takes off, some of the pirates have infiltrated the crew.
On the island, Jim shows great courage and sensitivity when he finds a crazy old man who was marooned many years earlier. His kindness prompts the man to share the treasure with Jim and his crew. Although Jim is enthralled with Long John Silver when he first meets him, after he learns the man is a pirate, Jim quickly loses his idolizing. Jim has a clear cut idea of right from wrong.
Long John Silver – signs on to the Hispaniola as a cook, but is the leader of a group of pirates. Long John Silver has one leg, but can maneuver around the ship better than someone with two legs. He is also charming and personable when he wants to be. He has a two-hundred-year-old parrot that sits on his shoulder and sings raunchy sailor songs. It also uses rough language. His plan is to let Jim’s crew take him to the treasure island, then kill them and take the ship. Jim overhears his plan and the honest sailors are prepared. Long John Silver is ruthless, cunning and a liar, but is kind to Jim, in his twisted way. He changes sides quickly when the pirates he is with turn on him. In the end, he is taken prisoner by the honest crew, but he escapes with a couple bags of gold before they get back to Bristol.
Doctor Livesey – a doctor from Jim’s village. One of the respected members of the village who Jim tells about the map. He and Squire Trelawney acquire a boat to go to Treasure Island. He is a fair man, who treats the wounds of the pirates as well as his own group.
Squire Trelawney – a local magistrate in Jim’s village. He makes the arrangements to lease a ship for the treasure hunt and to hire a crew. Unfortunately, the squire is not very savvy and is tricked into hiring Long John Silver and his pirate friends.
Robert Louis Stevenson Biography
Born November 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was the son of an engineer. Robert studied engineering, himself, and then law at the University of Edinburgh, but he had a natural inclination towards literature. Soon, he became a serious writer and gave up engineering and law to write novels, essays, poems and works on travel. Robert also wrote music. He played several instruments.
Robert suffered from tuberculosis, although more recent views are that he suffered from either bronchiectasis or sarcoidosis. He traveled extensively in search of healthier climates. Some of his earliest works were descriptions of these travels.
After a canoe trip through Belgium and France, he wrote, An Inland Voyage (1878). Travels with a Donkey in the Cervantes (1879) is an account of his journey on foot through the mountains in southern France. He also traveled by immigrant ship to New York, then by train to California. By the time he arrived in California his health was so bad he was almost dead. The ranchers he met there nursed him back to health, but after a long winter he was at death’s door again. Francis Osbourne, his soon to be bride came to help him recover, and they were married in 1880.
Francis, or Fanny, as he called her, was a divorcee with two children. They originally met while he was on the canoe trip in France. She was recovering from a disastrous marriage to a philandering ex-soldier from America’s Civil War. She was born in Indianapolis, married at seventeen, and by age thirty five had had three children.
In 1875, one of her sons died and she finally left her husband, relocating from Nevada, where she had joined her husband, to Paris, so she and her daughter could study art. That is where she met Robert. He was so impressed with her, that he wrote an essay “On Falling in Love” for the Cornhill Magazine. They met again in 1877, and he spent much of the with her and her children in France. She and her children went back to America and settled in San Francisco. Robert followed a year later, against the advice of friends and not telling his family. This added to the ill feelings with his father. This is when he took the immigrant ship to New York and train to California, that almost killed him.
Having chosen another profession than his father, uncles and grandfather’s who were engineers for generations, Robert had been estranged from his father, but, after his marriage, his wife, Fanny, helped him to repair that relationship. She also cared for his health, which was vacillating. Finally, after his father died, Robert took his mother, wife and her children to Samoa, where he settled, after extended stays in Hawaii, where he became good friends with King Kalakaua and his niece, Victoria.
Robert became involved in the politics of Samoa, writing letters and publishing essays to help expel corrupt and inept European officials. He was so beloved by the people of the island, that when he died at age forty-four, on December 3, 1894, they erected monuments to him. His home on the island is now a museum, with a pathway deliberately laid to his tomb.
As a celebrated son of Edinburgh, Scotland, there are monuments throughout the country. The Writer’s Museum on the Royal Mile has devoted a room to him. There is another memorial in the West Princes Street Gardens below the Edinburgh Castle.
Robert Louis Stevenson was a well-loved and prolific writer, whose immortality is seen in his works. Generations have and will be able to hear his words and enjoy his mastery of the story.