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Treasure Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Treasure Island
First edition
AuthorRobert Louis Stevenson
Original titleThe Sea Cook:
A Story for Boys
by Captain George North
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectsPirates, coming-of-age
GenreAdventure fiction
Young adult literature
PublisherCassell and Company
Publication date
14 November 1883
Pages292 (first edition)
TextTreasure Island at Wikisource

Treasure Island (originally titled The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys[1]) is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, telling a story of "buccaneers and buried gold". It is considered a coming-of-age story and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action.

The novel was originally serialised from 1881 to 1882 in the children's magazine Young Folks, under the title Treasure Island or the Mutiny of the Hispaniola, credited to the pseudonym "Captain George North". It was first published as a book on 14 November 1883 by Cassell & Co. It has since become one of the most often dramatized and adapted novels.

Since its publication, Treasure Island has had significant influence on depictions of pirates in popular culture, including elements such as deserted tropical islands, treasure maps marked with an "X", and one-legged seamen with parrots perched on their shoulders.[2]

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

In the mid-18th century, an old sailor who identifies himself as "The Captain" starts to lodge at the rural Admiral Benbow Inn on England's Bristol Channel. He tells the innkeeper's son, Jim Hawkins, to keep a lookout for "a one-legged seafaring man". Black Dog, a sailor, recognizes the captain as his former shipmate Billy Bones, and confronts him. They get into a sword fight; Black Dog flees, and Bones suffers a stroke. That night, Jim's father dies. Days later, Pew, a blind beggar, visits the inn, delivering a summons to Bones called "the black spot". Shortly thereafter, Bones suffers another stroke and dies. Pew and his accomplices attack the inn but are attacked and routed by mounted excise officers, and Pew is trampled to death by one of their horses. Jim and his mother escape with a packet from The Captain's sea chest, which is found to contain a map of the island on which the infamous pirate Captain Flint hid his treasure. Jim shows the map to the local physician Dr. Livesey and the squire John Trelawney, and they decide to make an expedition to the island, with Jim serving as a cabin boy.

They set sail from Bristol on a schooner chartered by Trelawney, the Hispaniola, under Captain Smollett. Jim forms a strong bond with the ship's one-legged cook, Long John Silver. The crew suffers a tragedy when first mate Mr. Arrow, a drunkard, is washed overboard during a storm. While hidden in an apple barrel, Jim overhears a conversation among the Hispaniola's crew which reveals that many of them are pirates who had served on Captain Flint's ship, the Walrus, with Silver leading them. They plan to mutiny after the salvage of the treasure, and to murder the captain and the few remaining loyal crew. Jim secretly informs Captain Smollet, Trelawney, and Livesey.

Arriving at the island and going ashore, Jim flees into the woods after witnessing Silver murder a sailor. He meets a marooned pirate named Ben Gunn, who is also a former member of Flint's crew. The mutineers arm themselves and take the ship, while Jim and Smollett's loyal band take refuge in an abandoned stockade on the island. After a brief truce, the mutineers attack the stockade, with casualties on both sides of the battle. Jim makes his way to the Hispaniola and cuts the ship from its anchor, drifting it along the ebb tide. He boards the ship and encounters the pirate Israel Hands, who had been injured in a drunken dispute with one of his companions. Hands helps Jim beach the schooner in the northern bay, then attempts to kill Jim with a knife, but Jim shoots him dead with two pistols.

Jim goes ashore and returns to the stockade, where he is horrified to find only Silver and the pirates. Silver tells Jim that when everyone found the ship was gone, Captain Smollett's party had agreed to a truce whereby the pirates take the map and allow the besieged party to leave. In the morning, Livesey arrives to treat the wounded and sick pirates, and tells Silver to look out for trouble once he's found the site of the treasure. After a dispute over leadership, Silver and the others set out with the map, taking Jim along as a hostage. They find a skeleton with its arms oriented toward the treasure, unnerving the party. Ben Gunn shouts Captain Flint's last words from the forest, making the superstitious pirates believe that Flint's ghost is haunting the island. They eventually find a treasure cache, but it is empty. The pirates prepare to kill Silver and Jim, but they are driven off by the doctor's party, including Gunn. Livesey explains that Gunn had already found the bulk of the treasure and taken it to his cave, long ago. The expedition members load this portion of the treasure onto the Hispaniola and depart the island, with Silver as their only prisoner. At their first port, in Spanish America, Silver steals a bag of money and escapes. The remaining crew sail back to Bristol and divide up the treasure. Some treasure was never found, but Jim refuses to return to the "accursed" island to look for it.


Treasure Island, illustrated by George Wylie Hutchinson (1894)
1934 edition

Treasure Island was written by Stevenson after returning from his first trip to America where he was married. Still a relatively unknown author, inspiration came in summer of 1881 in Braemar, Scotland when bad weather kept the family inside.[3] To amuse his 12-year old stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, he used the idea of a secret map as the basis of a story about hidden treasure.

He had clearly started work by 25 August, writing to a friend, "If this don't fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day. Will you be surprised to learn that it is about Buccaneers, that it begins in the Admiral Benbow public house on the Devon coast, that it's all about a map and a treasure and a mutiny and a derelict ship... It's quite silly and horrid fun – and what I want is the best book about Buccaneers that can be had."[4]

Stevenson originally gave the book the title The Sea Cook. One month after conceiving of the book, chapters began to appear in the pages of the Young Folks magazine.[5] After completing several chapters rapidly, Stevenson was interrupted by illness.[6] He left Scotland and continued working on the first draft near London, where he and his father discussed points of the tale, and his father suggested elements that he included. The novel eventually ran in seventeen weekly installments from October 1, 1881, to January 28, 1882. The book was later republished as the novel Treasure Island and proved to be Stevenson's first financial and critical success. The Liberal politician William Ewart Gladstone, who served four terms as British Prime Minister between 1868 and 1894, was one of the book's biggest fans; it was said that he stayed up all night to read it.

The growth of the desert island genre can be traced back to 1719 when Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe was published. A century later, novels such as S. H. Burney's The Shipwreck (1816), and Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate (1822) continued to expand upon Defoe's classic. Other authors in the mid-19th century continued this trend, with works including James Fenimore Cooper's The Pilot (1823). During the same period, Edgar Allan Poe wrote "MS Found in a Bottle" (1833) and "The Gold-Bug" (1843). All of these works influenced Stevenson's end product.[7]

Stevenson also consciously borrowed material from previous authors. In a July 1884 letter to Sidney Colvin, he wrote that "Treasure Island came out of Kingsley's At Last, where I got the Dead Man's Chest — and that was the seed — and out of the great Captain Johnson's History of the Notorious Pirates." Stevenson also admits that he took the idea of Captain Flint's pointing skeleton from Poe's The Gold-Bug and he constructed Billy Bones's history from the "Money-Diggers" section ("Golden Dreams" in particular[8]) of Tales of a Traveller by Washington Irving, one of his favorite writers.[9]



  • Jim Hawkins: The narrator of most of the novel. Jim is the son of an innkeeper on the north Devon coast of England and appears to be in his mid-teens. He is eager to go to sea and hunt for treasure. Jim consistently displays courage and heroism, but is also sometimes impulsive and impetuous. He exhibits increasing sensitivity and wisdom as the journey progresses.
  • Long John Silver: The one-legged cook aboard the Hispaniola. Silver is the secret leader of the pirates. He is deceitful, mean, and greedy, but also charismatic, and his physical and mental strength are impressive. He is kind toward Jim and appears genuinely fond of him. Silver was based in part on Stevenson's friend and mentor William Ernest Henley.
  • Dr. David Livesey: A doctor and magistrate; he narrates a few chapters of the novel. He exhibits common sense and rationality, and is fair-minded, treating wounded pirates just as he does his own comrades. But he does not hesitate to express his opinions and dislikes openly towards the pirates. Some years prior to the events of the novel, he had participated in the Battle of Fontenoy, during which he was wounded in action.[10]
  • Captain Alexander Smollett: The captain of the Hispaniola. He is savvy and is rightly suspicious of the crew that Trelawney hires. Smollett is a real professional, taking his job seriously and displaying skill as a negotiator. Smollett believes in rules and does not like Jim's disobedience, but later in the novel states that he and Jim shouldn't go to sea together again as Jim was too much of the born favourite for him.
  • Squire John Trelawney: A wealthy landowner who arranges the voyage to the island. He is too trusting and is duped by Silver into hiring pirates as the ship's crew.
  • Billy Bones: An old seaman who resides at the Admiral Benbow Inn. He used to be Flint's first mate, and is surly and rude. He exhorts Jim to be on the lookout for a one-legged man. A treasure map in his possession set the events of the novel in motion.
  • Ben Gunn: A former member of Captain Flint's crew who was found on Treasure Island, having been marooned there by another ship's crew three years earlier when they couldn't find Flint's treasure. He is described as being "insane", at least partially, and has a craving for cheese. He helps Silver escape and in England receives £1,000 which he spends/loses in 20 days. He becomes a Lodge gamekeeper and also sings in a church choir.
    • In the semi-official prequel story Porto Bello Gold by Arthur D. Howden Smith, Ben Gunn was the servant of captain Andrew "Rip-Rap" Murray, Flint's associate and the mastermind behind the capture of the treasure ship Santissima Trinidad, whence the buried treasure was taken. Murray described Ben Gunn as a "half-wit" whom he kept as servant specifically because he considered him intellectually incapable of treachery. After Flint's crew killed Murray and overpowered his crew, Ben Gunn went to serve Flint and fled the Walrus in Savannah after Flint's death.
    • According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, he was Nic Allardyce's servant and friend from back home.


  • Alan: An honest sailor who is killed by the mutineers during the landing on the island and whose death scream is heard across the isle. The incident occurs just before Long John murders Tom.
  • 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, who returns to his ship alone. Allardyce's body is lined up by Flint as a compass marker to the cache.
    • In Porto Bello Gold, one sailor on Flint's ship is named "Tom Allardyce". A lanky fellow with rather long, yellow hair, he is an antagonistic ringleader of sailors opposing Flint in at least two "fo'c'sle councils". Flint thinks they may present him with the Black Spot; he eventually challenges Allardyce to bring six friends and bury the treasure together.
    • According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, his first name was "Nic", 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. He participates in the storming of the blockhouse and is killed by Gray while attacking Jim. He is probably one of Flint's old pirate hands, though this is never stated. Along with Hands and Merry, he 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 is an alcoholic and is useless as a first mate. He disappears before they get to the island and his position is filled by Job Anderson. Silver had secretly given Mr. Arrow alcohol and he fell drunkenly overboard on a stormy night. In his BBC adaptation of 1977, John Lucarotti gives him the first name "Joshua". His first name was not stated in the novel.
  • Black Dog: Formerly a member of Flint's pirate crew, later one of Pew's companions who visits the Admiral Benbow to confront Billy Bones. He is spotted by Jim in Silver's tavern and slips out to be chased by two of Silver's men (in order to maintain the ruse that Silver and his men are not associated with him). Two fingers are missing from his left hand, and from his first appearance at the Admiral Benbow Inn, it appears Billy Bones may have previously attacked and caused the injury.
  • Pew: A vicious, deadly, and sinister blind beggar who served as a member of Flint's crew. Despite his blindness, he proves to be a dangerous adversary and can even be considered a ringleader amongst his fellow crewmen. He is the second messenger to approach Billy Bones and the one to deliver the Black Spot. He is trampled to death by the horses of revenue officers riding to assist Jim and his mother after the raid on their inn. Silver claims Pew spent his share of Flint's treasure at a rate of £1,200 per 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". Stevenson's novel Kidnapped (1886) also features a dangerous blind man.
    • In Porto Bello Gold, it is Pew who fatally stabs captain Murray, working in concert with Long John Silver. From the context, it seems that Silver means Pew when he addresses one man as "Ezra" just prior.
  • 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.
  • Captain J. Flint: A pirate who was captain of a ship called the Walrus, and who is dead before the events of the novel begin. In life he was the leader of the pirates and they refer to him often. He was the original possessor of the treasure, and buried it on the island. Long John Silver's parrot is named after him.
  • Abraham Gray: A ship's carpenter's mate 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.
  • Israel Hands: The ship's coxswain and Flint's old gunner. He tries to murder Jim Hawkins, who shoots him in self-defence.
  • Harry: He is probably one of Flint's old pirate hands; one of those who "ran after Black Dog" at the Spyglass Inn.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins: The parents of Jim Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins dies early in the story.
  • John Hunter: A manservant of Squire Trelawney. Dr. Livesey considers him to be the most steady and capable of Livesey's servants to have in a fight. He accompanies Trelawney to the island but is later knocked unconscious in an attack on the stockade. He dies of his injuries while unconscious.
  • John: A mutineer who is injured while trying to storm the blockhouse. Throughout the latter narrative he is primarily referred to by Hawkins as 'the man with the bandaged head' and ends up being killed at the rifled treasure cache. He is probably one of Flint's old pirate hands, as his name is called by Blind Pew before Pew was killed at the Inn.
  • Dick Johnson: The youngest of the mutineers, who has a Bible. The pirates use one of its pages to make a Black Spot for Silver, only to have him predict bad luck on Dick for sacrilege. Soon becoming mortally ill with malaria, Dick ends up being marooned on the island after the deaths of George Merry and John.
  • Dirk: One of Flint's old pirate hands, he was a lookout for the ex-pirates in Pew's attack on the Inn
  • Richard Joyce: One of the manservants of Squire Trelawney who accompany the squire to the island, a mild-mannered valet inexperienced in firearms. He is shot through the head and killed by a mutineer during an attack on the stockade.
  • George Merry: A mutinous and hostile member of Silver's crew, who disobeys orders and occasionally challenges Silver's authority. With Anderson and Hands he launches the mutiny prematurely; he forces Silver to attack the blockhouse instead of waiting for the treasure to be found. He almost overthrew Silver rule's and forced Long John to take Jim as a hostage. 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 with Dick and one other mutineer.
  • O'Brien: A mutineer who survives the attack on the blockhouse and escapes. He is later killed by Israel Hands in a drunken fight on the Hispaniola. He is referred to by Hawkins as the pirate 'with the red nightcap' throughout most of the narrative, until Hands reveals to Hawkins that the fellow was an Irishman named O'Brien.
  • Tom Redruth: The gamekeeper of Squire Trelawney. He accompanies the Squire to the island but is shot and mortally wounded by the mutineers as the captain's party are relocating from the ship to the stockade.
  • Tom: An honest sailor who is killed by Silver for refusing to join the mutiny.

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 the day before the attack on the stockade; the pirate killed by Ben Gunn the night before the attack; 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 Johnson.

Historical allusions

Real pirates and piracy

Historian Luis Junco suggests that Treasure Island is a combination of the story of the murder of Captain George Glas on board the Earl of Sandwich in 1765 and the taking of the ship Walrus off the island of La Graciosa near Tenerife. The pirates of La Graciosa buried their treasure there, and all were subsequently killed in a bloody battle with the British navy; the treasure was never recovered.

In his book Pirates of the Carraigin, David Kelly deals with the piracy and murder of Captain Glas and others by the Ship's Cook and his gang on board a ship travelling from Tenerife to London. The perpetrators of this crime also buried the considerable treasure they had stolen but most of it was later recovered. They were all executed in Dublin in 1766. In his research, Kelly showed that Stevenson was a neighbour of the named victim in Edinburgh, and so was aware from an early age of these events, which had been a scandal at the time. Stevenson and his family were members of a church congregation set up by the victim's father. Although he never visited Ireland, Stevenson based at least two other books, Kidnapped and Catriona on real crimes that were perpetrated in Dublin; these crimes were all reported in detail in The Gentleman's Magazine, published in Dublin and Edinburgh.[11]

Other allusions to real piracy include:

  • 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 (1719–1722). Kidd buried treasure on Gardiners Island, though the booty was recovered by authorities soon afterwards.[12]
  • 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 ensure 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), and 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 treasure from the 1715 Treasure Fleet which was wrecked off the coast of Florida in a hurricane; second, the seizure of 350,000 salvaged pieces of eight the following year (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 possibly the event that Stevenson referred to, though his (or Silver's) memory of the event seems to be slightly confused. The Cassandra was 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.
  • A real life 1800's smuggling gang, the "Benbow Brandy Men", operated out of the Benbow pub in Penzance, smuggling gin, brandy, and tobacco to avoid paying the massive import taxes imposed by the Crown to fund its foreign wars.[13]

Other allusions

Robert Louis Stevenson

Possible allusions


  • 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."[16][17]

Treasure Island

Norman Island
Dead Chest Island as viewed from Deadman's Bay, Peter Island
View of Fidra from Yellowcraigs

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

  • Isla de Pinos near Cuba, which served as a supply base for pirates for about 300 years, is believed to have inspired Treasure Island.[18][19]
  • Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands was supposedly mentioned to Stevenson by a sailor uncle, and also possesses a "Spyglass Hill" like the fictional Treasure Island.[20]
  • Cocos Island off Costa Rica has many similarities with the fictional treasure island. British trader Captain William Thompson buried the stolen treasury of Peru there in 1820; an original inventory showed 113 gold religious statues (one a life-sized Virgin Mary), 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jewelled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid-gold crowns, 150 chalices, and hundreds of gold and silver bars. The real treasure has never been found, despite more than 300 expeditions to the island. Stevenson mentions the buried treasure and Captain Thompson in an 1881 letter to W. E. Henley, where he also provides the earliest known title for the book: "The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: a Story for Boys".[citation needed]
  • 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,[21] and which he said "was the seed" for the phrase "Dead Man's Chest".[22][23]
  • Small pond in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh, said to have been visible from Stevenson's bedroom window in Heriot Row.[24]
  • The Napa Valley, California, where Stevenson spent his honeymoon in 1880, as narrated in his The Silverado Squatters (1883).
  • Osborn Island (now Nienstedt Island) in the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey. Stevenson supposedly visited there in May 1888 (five years after writing Treasure Island) and christened it "Treasure Island"[25][26]
  • Fidra in the Firth of Forth, visible from North Berwick where Stevenson had spent many childhood holidays.[27]
  • Unst, one of the Shetland Islands, to which the map of Treasure Island bears a very vague resemblance.[28]
  • R. F. Delderfield, in The Adventures of Ben Gunn, suggests that its real name is Kidd's Island, and identifies it as an outlying island of the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands, south-south-west of Tobago (pp. 119–120).

Suggested links to the towns of Birkenhead and Wallasey near Liverpool

In August 2022, the British Member of Parliament for Birkenhead, Mick Whitley, supported the findings of local historian John Lamb, that Robert Louis Stevenson had set his classic novel Treasure Island in the towns of Birkenhead and Wallasey on the Wirral Peninsula lying opposite Liverpool. This followed a previous announcement by Alan Evans of Wirral Borough Council that the French science fiction writer Jules Verne had also set his 1874 novel The Mysterious Island in Birkenhead. Their letters of support for Mr Lamb's claims were posted on the Jules Verne and the Heroes of Birkenhead website in August 2022.[29][30][31]

Other places

The Admiral Benbow in Penzance, reportedly an inspiration for Stevenson's Inn
  • Both the Llandoger Trow in Bristol, and the Admiral Benbow in Penzance, have claimed to be an inspiration for the Admiral Benbow Inn. Stevenson visited Cornwall and Penzance in August 1877, and as the inn is described in the book as being in a rural area and it was necessary to travel to Bristol, Penzance's "Benbow Brandy Men" may have inspired him to feature the Penzance Benbow in Treasure Island.[32][13]
  • The Hole in the Wall, in Bristol, is claimed to be the Spyglass Tavern.[33]
  • The Pirate's House in Savannah, Georgia, is where Captain Flint is claimed to have spent his last days,[34] and his ghost is claimed to haunt the property.[35]

Sequels, prequels, and worldbuilding


Stevenson's Treasure Island has spawned an enormous amount of literature based upon the original novel:

  • Porto Bello Gold (1924), a prequel by A. D. Howden Smith that was written with explicit permission from Stevenson's executor, tells the origin of the buried treasure and recasts many of Stevenson's pirates in their younger years, giving the hidden treasure some Jacobite antecedents not mentioned in the original.
  • Back to Treasure Island (1935) is a sequel by H. A. Calahan, the introduction of which argues that Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to write a continuation of the story.
  • The Return of Long John Silver (1949), a sequel written by John Connell with illustrations by Ley Kenyon.
  • The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1956), by R. F. Delderfield, follows Ben Gunn from parson's son to pirate and is narrated by Jim Hawkins in Gunn's words.
  • Flint's Island (1972), a sequel by Leonard Wibberley, who notes in the introduction that it had long been a dream of his to do so.
  • Long John Silver – Den äventyrliga och sannfärdiga berättelsen om mitt liv och leverne som lyckoriddare och mänsklighetens fiende (1998) is a prequel by the Swedish author Björn Larsson, who tells the fictional story of the pirate Long John Silver, told in first person by Silver himself in a manuscript in his last days of life.
  • Jim Hawkins and the Curse of Treasure Island (2001) is a sequel by Frank Delaney under the pseudonym "Francis Bryan".
  • Before (2001) is a prequel by Michael Kernan, published in the Netherlands as Vóór Schateiland.[36]
  • Sept Pirates (2007) is a comic-book sequel by Pascal Bertho and artist Tom McBurnie.[citation needed]
  • Long John Silver (2007) is a four-volume French graphic novel by Xavier Dorison and artist Mathieu Lauffray.
  • Flint & Silver (2008) is a prequel by John Drake, who followed with two additional books: Pieces of Eight (2009) and Skull and Bones (2010).[37]
  • Return to Treasure Island (2010) is a sequel by John O'Melveny Woodswrote.[38]
  • Treasure Island: The Untold Story (2011) is a true-life prequel by John Amrhein, Jr.[39]
  • Silver: Return to Treasure Island (2012) is a sequel by former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom Andrew Motion.[40]
  • Treasure Island!!! (2012) is a novel by Sara Levine about an American woman who becomes obsessed with Treasure Island (Europa Editions, 2012).[41]
  • Tread Carefully on the Sea (2014), by David K. Bryant, merges all the references to Captain Flint into a prequel covering the burial of the treasure.
  • Skulduggery (1991/2014), a prequel written by Tony Robinson which features Ben Gunn attending a school for pirates and meeting junior counterparts of Blind Pew and Long John Silver. Originally published as part of the Silvery Jackanory compilation in 1991. (ISBN 9781781124086)
  • Treasure Island Comprehension Guide (2009) is a guide for understanding this book from Veritas Press. This is written by Ned Bustard.[42]

Film and television

A number of sequels have also been produced in film and television, including:

  • Return to Treasure Island (1954), a film by E. A. Dupont
  • Return to Treasure Island (1986), written by Ivor Dean, Robert S. Baker and John Goldsmith, is a HTV television series that features Silver, Hawkins and Gunn.
  • Black Sails (2014–2017), a prequel drama series by Robert Levine and Jonathan E. Steinberg, tells the story of Captain Flint and John Silver leading up to the Treasure Island story. The series is said to take place 20 years before the events of the book, in 1715; however this is actually 40 years before the dates given by Stevenson. The series consists of four seasons.[43]


In worldbuilding, there are:

  • Admiral Guinea (publ. 1892), a play written by R. L. Stevenson 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.[44]
  • 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 (i.e., Long John Silver); Captain Flint and the Walrus are also referenced, among others.
  • In the film The Pagemaster (1994), the hero is confronted by Long John Silver, who surrenders and leaves after he is threatened with a sword
  • 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. Barbecue is the crew's nickname for Long John Silver in the novel. 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'.
  • Treasure Island made an appearance in Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Treasure Island, the 2018 entry of the popular Doraemon movie series which is also a loose adaptation of the book.


There have been over 50 film and TV adaptations of Treasure Island.

Poster for the 1934 film version, the first talkie adaptation of the novel


Film adaptations include:[45]



TV films



There have been over 24 major stage adaptations made, though the number of minor adaptations remains countless.[52] The story is also a popular plot and setting for a traditional pantomime wherein Mrs. Hawkins, Jim's mother is the dame.



Other audio recordings

Books and comics


Video games

  • Treasure Island (1984) is a graphical adventure computer game based loosely on the novel. It was written by Greg Duddle, published by Mr. Micro (and often rebranded by Commodore) on the Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. In the game, the player takes the part of Jim Hawkins travelling around the island dispatching pirates with cutlasses before getting the treasure and being chased back to the ship by Long John Silver.
  • Treasure Island (1985) is an adventure game based upon the novel published by Windham Classics.[68]
  • La Isla del Tesoro de R. L. Stevenson (1999) is a point-and-click adventure game based upon the novel developed, edited, and published by Barcelona Multimedia.[69]
  • Monkey Island, a LucasArts adventure game, is partly based on Treasure Island, lending many of its plot points and characters and using many humorous references to the book.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon is one of the various video games released by Disney based on their animated film Treasure Planet.
  • Treasure Island (2010) is a hidden objects game launched by French publisher Anuman Interactive.[70]
  • Captain Silver is an arcade game that follows its protagonist, Jim Aykroyd, in his quest to find Captain Silver's hidden treasure, for which he must battle an undead Captain Silver in order to find.

References in popular culture

Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise references Treasure Island many times. In the 2006 revamp of the original attraction, the island port was officially named Isla Tesoro, with the Spanish translation of Treasure Island is La isla del tesoro. In making Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Treasure Island was one of many inspirations behind making the film, noted by the filmmakers like producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who regarded the 1950 Walt Disney Studio feature.[74] It was also noted that history has a strange way of turning full circle as 53 years later, it took the very same studio's first Pirates of the Caribbean movie to spectacularly reinvent and reinvigorate a moribund genre which once again delighted millions.[75] One thing screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio took from their experience on Treasure Planet, was the simple premise of, "Is Long John Silver a delightful Falstaffian character or a contemptible villain?" That idea was something they carried into Captain Jack Sparrow.[76] Hector Barbossa's pet monkey, named "Jack" after Jack Sparrow, is a reference to Long John Silver's pet parrot Captain Flint. Both animals are named after their owner's former captain.[77] Dead Man's Chest features the most references, beginning with Joshamee Gibbs singing Dead Man's Chest, a song from the novel, which served as the original opening of until it changed into the second scene of the film.[78][79] Jack Sparrow is given the Black Spot by Bootstrap Bill Turner as a marker that the Kraken can track. Governor Weatherby Swann witnesses Mercer kill the captain, who was intended to be called "Captain Hawkins", as revealed by screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio on the film's DVD commentary. Hawkins' backstory was intended to relate to that of Jim Hawkins' father in Treasure Island, explaining the circumstances of his father's disappearance at sea and why he never returned to the Admiral Benbow Inn.[80] The merchant ship the Edinburgh Trader was played by the Bounty, a ship replica which played the Hispaniola in the 1990 movie adaptation of the novel. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has Hector Barbossa begin wearing a wooden peg leg where a real one used to be, revealed to have been lost in an off-screen encounter with Blackbeard. Barbossa is feared as an omen of death and referred to as "the one legged man" by Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica, which is a parallel to Billy Bones having feared John Silver and ominously referred to him by the same moniker. Regarding this change in Barbossa, actor Geoffrey Rush noted Robert Newton playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island[81][82] Terry Rossio references Treasure Island and Treasure Planet in the annotations for his screenplay draft for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which features a character named Captain (later Admiral) John Benbow as a reference to the Admiral Benbow Inn.[83] One of Chris Schweizer's early ideas for the Pirates of the Caribbean comic book series was to have Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's 12-or-13-year old son be involved in Jack Sparrow's search for Anamaria who had disappeared while searching for a mystical treasure, with the boy eventually growing up and becoming Billy Bones, a character from Treasure Island.[citation needed] A phantom pirate named Black Dog Briar appears in the video game expansion.

See also


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  • Barker-Benfield, Simon (2014). The Annotated Treasure Island. ISBN 978-1-937075-01-9
  • 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

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