The Silverado Squatters


The Silverado Squatters

Infobox Book |
name = The Silverado Squatters


image_caption =
author = Robert Louis Stevenson
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = Scotland
language = English and Scots
series =
genre = Short stories
publisher = Chatto and Windus
release_date = 1883
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages =
isbn = NA

"The Silverado Squatters" (1883) is Robert Louis Stevenson's travel memoir of his two-month honeymoon trip with Fanny Vandegrift (and her son Lloyd Osbourne) to Napa Valley, California in the late spring and early summer of 1880.

In July 1879, Stevenson received word that his future American wife's divorce was almost complete, but that she was seriously ill. He left Scotland right away and traveled to meet her in Monterey, California (his trip detailed in "The Amateur Emigrant" (1894) and "Across the Plains" (1892). Broken financially, suffering from a life-long fibronous bronchitis condition, and with his writing career at a dead end, he was nursed back to health by his doctor, his nurse, and his future wife, while living briefly in Monterey, San Francisco and Oakland. His father provided money to help, and he then married the San Francisco native on May 19 1880 (they had first met in France in 1875, soon after the events of "An Inland Voyage"). Still too weak to undertake the journey back to Scotland, friends suggested Calistoga in the upper Napa Valley with its healthy mountain air.

They first went to the Hot Springs Hotel in Calistoga, but unable to afford the 10 dollars a week, it was arranged that they spent an unconventional honeymoon in an abandoned three-story bunkhouse at a derelict mining camp called "Silverado" on the shoulder of Mount Saint Helena in the Mayacamas Mountains. There they managed to "squat" for two months during a pleasant California summer, putting up makeshift cloth windows and hauling water in by hand from a nearby stream while dodging rattlesnakes and the occasional fog banks so detrimental to Stevenson's health.

"The Silverado Squatters" provides some interesting views of California during the late 19th century. Stevenson uses the first telephone of his life. He meets a number of wine growers in Napa Valley, an enterprise he deemed "experimental", with growers sometimes even mis-labeling the bottles as originating from Spain in order to sell their product to skeptical Americans. He visits the oldest wine grower in the valley, Jacob Schram, who had been "experimenting" for 18 years at his Schramsberg Winery, and had recently expanded the wine cellar in his backyard. Stevenson also visits a petrified forest owned by an old Norwegian ex-sailor who had stumbled upon it while clearing farmland — the precise nature of the petrified forest remained for everyone a source of curiosity. Stevenson also details his encounters with a local Jewish merchant, whom he compares to a character in a Charles Dickens novel (probably Fagin from "Oliver Twist"), and portrays as happy-go-lucky but always scheming to earn a dollar. Like Dickens in "American Notes" (1842), Stevenson found the American habit of spitting on the floor hard to get used to.

His experiences at Silverado were kept in a journal he called "Silverado Sketches", parts of which were incorporated into "Silverado Squatters" in 1883 while living in Bournemouth, England, with other tales appearing in "Essays of Travel" and "Across the Plains". Many of his notes of the scenery around him later provided much of the descriptive detail for "Treasure Island" (1883).

The Robert Louis Stevenson State Park now encompasses the area where they stayed. The entrance to the park is at the summit of State Route 29. A new trail has been constructed in recent years. The "Silverado Museum" in St. Helena, California is dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson.

ee also

*Silverado

Resources and editions

Editions
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/516 "The Silverado Squatters"] at Project Gutenberg
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/SteSilv.html "The Silverado Squatters"] , HTML version from the University of Virginia.
* [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/calbkbib:@field(TITLE+@band(The+Silverado+squatters,+)) "The Silverado Squatters"] , HTML version with scanned images, from the Library of Congress
* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC09163318&id=IgoSnHiDXyYC&printsec=toc&dq=silverado+squatters&as_brr=1#PPA311,M1 "The Silverado Squatters"] , from William Ernest Henley's "The Novels and Tales of Robert Louis Stevenson", volume 15. Published by Scriber's and Sons in 1905. Scanned online via Google Books.
* [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC23293361&id=H8kRS96fXH8C "The Silverado Squatters"] , published by Scribner's and Sons in 1905 with a preface by Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. Scanned online via Google Books.
*"The Silverado Squatters", audiobook, Blue Pylon Creative (2005). ISBN 0-9765765-0-3Resources
* [http://www.silveradomuseum.org/default.htm Silverado Museum] in St. Helena, California, devoted to Robert Louis Stevenson.


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