Robert Louis Stevenson and how his Books Reflect parts of North Berwick

The famous Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, famously had a strong connection with North Berwick and found himself being inspired by the small seaside town to write some of his most acknowledged books, including ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Catriona’.  Born on the 13th November 1850, Robert Louis Stevenson embarked in family holidays to North Berwick, where he visited in 1862, climbing the North Berwick Law with his cousins and playing as smugglers and pirates with his friends in a small cave at the Point Garry, by the sea.  Many years after having visited the sea side town, Robert Louis Stevenson described North Berwick as “A fishing village with drying nets, scolding wives, the smell of fish and seaweed and the blowing sands”, evidently provoking sparks of inspiration for much of his later literature.

Among many of his lasting memories of North Berwick, Robert Louis Stevenson always remembered his first journey by train from Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick, where he would spend time with his family.  Situated by the shore opposite the Bass Rock, Robert Louis Stevenson spent much of his time at Scoughall Farm, as it belonged to his relatives, the Dale family.  It was at this point in his life, gathered around the farmhouse fire, listening to the tale of the ‘Pagans of Scoughall’ who lured sailing ships onto the reef called the Great Car by showing misleading lantern lights on wild and stormy nights, that Stevenson was given his inspiration for his story, ‘The Wreckers’.  This evidently shows that Robert Louis Stevenson’s strong bond with North Berwick was reflected in the creating of his famous works.

(article supplied by Alison Wright, NBHS Pupil ©2011)