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Record 21352

Reading Experience:

'O when we woke in London docks, the first steamer I saw go past was the "Charles", and the next the "Cygnet": I was afraid to look any more, I felt so eerie; but of course I [italics]know[end italics] the third was the "Baxter".'
Century: 1850-1899
Date: Until: 28 Jul 1875
Country: England
Time: morning
Place: city: LONDON
specific address: Docks in London
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Robert Louis Stevenson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 13 Nov 1850
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Writer.
Religion: Uncommitted
Country of origin: Scotland
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Title: n/a
Genre: Two painted ships' names.
Form of Text: Manuscript: Letter, Painted (or stencilled?) on ships' sides.
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: read in situ
Seen from another boat in London docks.


Source Information:

Record ID: 21352  
Source - Print  
  Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
  Editor: Bradford A. Booth
  Title: The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879
  Place of Publication: New Haven and London
  Date of Publication: 1994
  Vol: 2
  Page: 154
  Additional comments: Letter 407, To Charles Baxter, [28 July 1875], Savile Club. Co-editor Ernest Mehew. The material in square brackets has been added by the editors.

Citation: Robert Louis Stevenson, Bradford A. Booth (ed.), The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879 (New Haven and London, 1994), 2, p. 154,, accessed: 14 July 2020

Additional comments:

Charles Baxter (1848-1919) was (or was to become?) a Writer to the Signet. (The Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet is a private society of Scottish solicitors and the oldest legal society in the world). Apparently a punning mental connection Cygnet/Signet raised in RLS the fanciful or pretented expectation of seeing a third ship’s name (Baxter) making a third reference to his friend’s attributes.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)