R. L. S.
R. L. Stevenson. By Janet Adam Smith. " Great Lives " series. (Duckworth. 2s.) Reviewed by G. ELLIOT ANSTRUTHER.
To have compressed the story of Robert Louis Stevenson into fewer than 140 pages, and yet to have presented no merely skimpy account of the man and his work, is something upon which the writer of this biography can plume herself. Comparatively few can obey successfully the injunction: multum in parvo: Janet Adam Smith is one of them. In this small book she finds room not only for the biographical narrative, but also for a chronological summary and a bibliography, which latter should send many readers in further quest of Stevensonia.
In reading any life of R.L.S.. a Catholic turns almost instinctively to see what is said about the Hyde letter, Stevenson's famous defence of Fr. Damien against his Protestant adversary. Here the episode has but a line or two of not altogether sympathetic treatment the letter was "a defence and counterblast . . in strong and libellous terms." It is interesting, by the way, to see noted that in his island home in the South Seas all Stevenson's house servants were Catholics.