The Strange Case of Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne
This chapter tracks Robert Louis Stevenson’s collaboration with his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne. This partnership reveals both Stevenson’s complex understanding of authorship and how technologies and genres designed to enforce adult authority over children—the toy press and adventure fiction—can instead encourage intergenerational collaboration. Through privately printed and publicly circulated texts, Stevenson and Osbourne explored the relationships that surround and indeed comprise the figure of the writer: between adult and child, between author and businessman, and among multiple contributors to a text. Authorship emerges as a social act among multiple generations and personae. Tracing this collaboration from Osbourne’s childhood ventures with his stepfather, including the composition of Treasure Island, through the pair’s coauthorship as adults and into Osbourne’s maturity, this chapter illuminates how the child’s growth and entrance into adulthood transforms the practice of multiple authorship and provides authors the opportunity to explore the possibilities of child agency.
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