Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this pirate yarn originally as a serialized story for a children’s magazine in 1882, and called it “The Sea Cook.” It was published as a novel in 1883.
Has there been a film made from this book?
This is one of the most popular stories to be put into movie form. The latest version was “Treasure Planet” put out by Disney in 2002. My personal favorite is “Muppet Treasure Island” put out in 1995, because who doesn’t like the Muppets?
Who are the main characters?
Jim Hawkins – a young boy who becomes the owner of a pirate treasure map and is entangled with pirates while searching for the treasure
Billy Bones – an old pirate who brought the map to the Hawkins’ inn and then died of a stroke
Dr. Livesay – a Doctor who befriends Jim and accompanies him on his journey to Treasure Island
Squire Trelawney – the man who funds the trip to Treasure Island (and unknowingly hires pirates to man the ship)
Captain Smollett – the captain of their ship, the Hispaniola
Long John Silver – the cook on the Hispaniola, and a pirate leader, the man Billy Bones feared more than anyone else
Ben Gunn – a pirate who has been marooned on Treasure Island for three years
What’s it about?
Jim Hawkins lives with his mother near Bristol, England, in their inn, “The Admiral Benbow.” One day, an old sea captain named Billy Bones comes to stay at the end for an indeterminate amount of time. He keeps Jim on constant watch for a man with one leg. As it turns out, Billy Bones is a turncoat pirate who is in possession of his former captain’s treasure map. He dies of a stroke after he is presented with the black spot by his crew – the mark of judgment.
In a panic, Jim and his mother raid Billy Bones’ sea chest and discover a number of documents, among them the map. They flee the pirates who are attacking the inn and Jim makes his way to Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesay, two aristocratic men who are acquaintances of his. They both immediately recognize the map for what it is and Trelawney heads off to the city to plan an expedition to recover the treasure. Trelawney is given explicit instructions to keep the map a secret, but his naievete and big mouth lead him to not only spreading the news but hiring pirates for the majority of the ship’s crew – among them is Long John Silver…the feared one legged pirate…
Why is this book a classic?
This book is a classic because of the masterful story telling by Stevenson. The story is written in simple terms, but it’s not a simple story. It can be read as a bildungsroman – Jim’s coming-of-age story. Plus…it’s a GOOD classic – not hard to wallow through like a Dickens’ novel or mind boggling like Kafka. It’s a light read…and you feel nice and smart because you’re reading a classic. 🙂
Why should I read this book?
It’s fun and funny. This book makes reading fun again. Treasure Island isn’t long, and even if it was longer, Stevenson would make it seem too short. And there are usually pictures!
Has it won any awards?
Unfortunately, it pre-dates most literary awards.
Don’t be intimidated that this is a classic book. And don’t be thrown off by the idea it was originally published as a children’s novel.
There’s good reason this was on a “top novel” list…