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1001 Stories Collection

Treasure Island

1001 treasureisland
Added on 09th July 2020

Author Robert Louis Stevenson
First published 1883

Action and adventure Historical

A classic rip-roaring pirate adventure story.


Jim, a young boy, has his life changed forever when Billy Bones, a guest at his parent’s inn, dies and leaves a treasure map. Jim ends up on a treasure hunt with a pirate crew who aren’t all who they seem.

Why we chose it

Treasure Island is a classic children’s story which gave birth to one of the most famous and fearsome pirates of them all, Long John Silver. Thanks to Robert Louis Stephenson we now associate pirates with black spots, islands where treasure is buried, maps marked with an X, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder. Author Philip Pullman chose to be photographed as Long John Silver for our 26 Characters exhibition in 2014.

Where it came from

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, the son of a lighthouse engineer. He spent his summers accompanying his Father on lighthouse inspections around the Scottish Islands. From a young age he was telling stories and it was on one of his holidays in Scotland with a nephew that he devised the map that Treasure Island came from. In 1875 Robert met friend and writing partner William Earnest Henley. William had a wooden leg and is often considered to be the inspiration behind Long John Silver.

Where it went next

It’s a book which captured the public imagination and has inspired film, television and theatre productions as well as video games and comic books. The Muppets, the National Theatre and Sandi Toksvig have all successfully taken on the story.

Associated stories

Treasure Island is referenced in Peter and Wendy (JM Barrie) and Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome,). Marvel also adapted the story as a comic in 1976.

Both Michael Morpurgo and Philip Pullman cite Treasure Island as an influence on their work.

Stevenson’s other famous novels are Kidnapped and Jekyll and Hyde.

In the museum

Find the photograph of Philip Pullman as Long John Silver from our 26 Characters exhibition.

Added on 09th July 2020

Author Robert Louis Stevenson
First published 1883

Action and adventure Historical