The Lingering Clasp of the Hand Part 5

The Lingering Clasp of the Hand 5



 “Je workerai comme un trump”: Stevenson and Henley’s ‘Back-Kitchen’ Collaboration.



The way in which the private relations of the authors in this thesis manifest themselves in their textual interactions is a revealing indication of the bondings that were formed by the artists of the period whether in pairs of two, or more, and whether connected or discrete.  As another example of this process, bonding took place between Stevenson and W. E. Henley.  Henley's relationship with Stevenson rested on a mutual fellow-feeling based on a bonding passion of extraordinary intensity.  John Connell has best described the association between the twenty-three-year-old Stevenson and the twenty-four-year-old editor, in part in Dr Lister's hospital, where Stevenson would bring up a chair to sit in the "back-kitchen" next to Henley's sickbed, perhaps indicating the chair as the site for literary bonding.  It was Lang, indeed, who had said that Stevenson more than any man he had ever known was endowed with "the power of making other men fall in love with him",  and which is borne out by a number of the bondings studied in this thesis.  Connell explains how the two men's relationship, the effect of hospitalisation on Henley, and the "strangeness" of Stevenson, by which is probably meant his eccentricity and his creative genius, usually protected by what his biographer calls "a vast Scottish Stevensonian myth", has come to be seen as "the combination of the deliciously strange with the deliciously unexpected."  By that he means, I suggest, that Henley and Stevenson were attracted to each other, but it could also imply that they found in their bond the compatibility and harmony which they had sought, but had not found, with others.  Sessions with Henley were so strenuous for the weakly, consumptive Stevenson that they were "prohibited by the doctor as being too exciting", according to Fanny Osbourne.

      The two writers were hard at work in Edinburgh producing a scenario for a play and, in a newly discovered letter, Henley wrote to his fiancée, Anna, indicating a timetable of collaborative activity that featured intensive drafting, the pleasures of pipe tobacco, and a relaxing evening of Prospectus-writing.  The art of scenario-writing for a play seemed to be a pleasurable one, even if the process of writing was unsatisfactory: 

RLS had worked himself into a fever over it & had produced some seven mouldy lines… But I set to work, & I had something ready by nine o’clock.  Then I drove to Heriot Row, & we straightened it up a little further, smoked a pipe, & agreed that writing prospectuses was rather poor work.

 There is no doubt that a continuous collaboration between Stevenson and Henley occurred, since a letter briefly confirms that Stevenson was hard at work on one of their collaborative projects: "je workerai comme un trump",  writes Stevenson in 1880 in a letter to Henley.  The promise to work effectively suggests that their work would result in an intensive collaboration which would turn out better than was expected: that is “turn up trumps”, unless it was “trumped up” to please Henley.  If “je workerai” is the first-person future tense of to work, then je me tromperai is the future reflexive tense of I will deceive or delude myself.  To trump is, say, to trump someone at cards, or perhaps hearts were trumps.  If Stevenson was to work like a trump, perhaps he suggests somebody who could “trump” someone or “trumpet” his love for another. 

The relationship between Henley and Stevenson was intensive for a period from 1870 to 1883.  But in October 1883 Stevenson wrote to Henley expressing dismay at Henley's increasing coolness over their correspondence: "Dear Henley.  Why this frozen silence wintry silence?"  It is a plea from the heart to Henley to melt in his distant and cool relationship with Stevenson and the letter underlines an erotic/aesthetic system based on same-sex attraction and one in which the exigencies of literary collaboration and empire are apparent.

     Yet Henley had treated Stevenson generously in previous times, referring to the latter as "dear lad", in his eulogy of Virginibus Puerisque, which had been dedicated to Henley.  In a letter to Stevenson of April 1881, he defended Stevenson, declaring “ God, you've got it" and "... you are a Stylist - or, to be more correct, a Master of Style."  The lad ethos and the continuation of the thematics of the “Boy” in literature are once more apparent in these letters.  Stevenson repeats the coda, “lad”, where he addresses Henley as “My dear excellent, admired, volcanic angel of a lad, trusty as a dog, eruptive as Vesuvius, in all things great, in all the soul of loyalty: greeting."   Again in April 1882 Stevenson appears to exaggerate the “Boy” theme in his salutation:


Dear Bo-o-oy, it seems you minded not - or dissembled.  If the latter, pray speak out - or if your wife minded - surely you and I should be frank.

 The impediment that Stevenson mentions — Henley’s wife’s minding about the matter — seems to fall into Lang’s category of the making of objections that constitute collaboration (faire des objections c’est collaborer).  The need to be “frank” might suggest a desire for increased intimacy between them.  He ends the letter with the exhortation: “Be truthful, rogue and believe me ever yours apocalyptically RLS.”   If Henley was a “rogue” and one who had “dissembled”, then the tone of the letter could be taken to mean, if it is not ironic, that their collaboration was characterised by conspiracies, objections and deceit and reaffirms ideas of a psychological basis for dual work.

But the first seeds of disagreement of an all too protesting kind were sowed in September 1892, when Henley wrote a letter to Charles Whibley about projected work on a joint project for An Anthology of English Prose.  Towards the end of the letter, which was to mark the beginning of the end of their relationship, it seems that umbrage might be taken over the remarks Stevenson was to make in an article in Punch dated that same week:


  ...Meanwhile a very charming and generous appreciation from R L S.  Did you see Punch this week?  There's something in it that, if I were a fool, I should resent as a personal attack.

 There had been nothing more than a passing reference to Henley — his role in devising the plot for Katherine de Mattos's story subsequently written up by Fanny Stevenson and discussed below.  Henley had only been a witness to the discussion about the plot of Katherine de Mattos's play between de Mattos and Fanny Stevenson.  The reference to the play in the Punch article should not have occasioned an objection of this kind but ..."making objections is collaborating", as we saw Lang point out.  As a result of Balfour's review of the Life of Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pall Mall Gazette for December 1901, Henley took an overview of his relationship with Stevenson.  He wanted their relationship before Stevenson’s exodus to the South Seas to be remembered favourably, but he did not hold the same memories of the post-Samoan Stevenson, and included some scornful and contemptuous remarks as well:


For me there were two Stevensons: the Stevenson who went to America in '87; and the Stevenson who never came back.  The first I knew, and loved; the other I lost touch with, and, though I admired him, did not greatly esteem.  My relation with him was that of a man with a grievance; and for that reason, perhaps - that reason and others - I am by no means disposed to take all Mr. Balfour says...


Later in the article the words of rancour seem to bear out the contention that there had been a great intensity of feeling between Henley and Stevenson in the early stages of their relationship.  Henley appears unable to come to terms with the passing of time and the inevitable changes during the passage through life:


If it convey the impression that I take of Stevenson which is my own, and which declines to be concerned with this Seraph in Chocolate, this barley sugar effigy of a real man; that the best and the most interesting part of Stevenson's life will never get written - even by me; and that the Shorter Catechist of Vailima, however brilliant and distinguished as a writer of stories, however authorised and acceptable as a (sic) artist in morals, is not my old, riotous, intrepid, scornful Stevenson at all-suffice it will.

 As Shakespeare expressed it, protesting too much is a symptom of the psychology of saying one thing and meaning another.  Henley stated in an antagonistic way that Stevenson's work was imperfect but actually carried in his mind a sincere and genuine love for the man and his work:


..... he was, that is, incessantly and passionately interested in Stevenson.  He could not be in the same room with a mirror but he must invite its confidences every time he passed it; to him there was nothing obvious in time and eternity, and the smallest of his discoveries, his most trivial apprehensions, were all by way of being revelations, and as revelations must be thrust upon the world; he was never so much in earnest, never so well pleased (this were he happy or wretched), never so irresistible, as when he wrote about himself.  Withal, if he wanted a thing, he went after it with an entire contempt for consequences.  For these indeed, the Shorter Catechist was ever prepared to answer; so that, whether he did well or ill, he was safe to come out unabashed and cheerful.  He detested Mr. Gladstone, I am pleased to say; but his gift of self-persuasion was scarce second to that statesman's own.

 The use here of the sarcastic "Seraph in Chocolate" and "Shorter Catechist" underlines the contention that irony and satire often have a part in the points that writers wish to make.  One writer engages with, and responds to, the emotional involvement of the other and appears to derive an emotional charge from the attentions he receives.  This charge may be a marker for displaced sexuality and demonstrates the anxieties and repressions characterising the bonding partnership.  That Henley had an emotional grudge against Stevenson in the later period of their relationship is all too apparent.  It was Lang who had realised that there was a psychological factor and this point is relevant to our understanding of the nature of late-Victorian bonding.

What is expressed in private is impossible to repeat in public.  This private/public opposition dominated the relationships between the writers and has implications for the changing nature of genders in the period when men were moving to more open expressions of affection between themselves in public.  Henley's intensity of feeling for Stevenson and the great loss which he felt at Stevenson's sojourn in California are demonstrated in Henley’s "private and confidential"  letter of March 1888, in which his real love for Stevenson and his regret at his departure is expressed in intimate terms:


Why the devil did you go and bury yourself in that bloody country of dollars and spew?  And you don't even get better.  C'est trop raide.  Lord you are 4000 miles from your friends!  C'est vraiment trop fort.  However, I suppose you must be forgiven for you have loved me too much...  We have lived, we have loved, we have suffered; and the end is best of all.  Life is uncommon like rot; but it has been uncommon like something else, and that it will be so again - once again, dear! - is certain.  Forgive this babble, and take care of yourself, and burn this letter. 

Your friend.

W. E. Henley.

The instructions to destroy the letter indicate that their intimacy and collaboration were too intense for public view and that the emotional intensity between them was central to their relationship.  It is apparent that the terms — "loved me too much", "dear!" and "your friend" — which Henley uses in this private, yet now very public, letter are far stronger and more energetically conveyed than literary niceties such as "my esteemed colleague", "Mr. Louis Stevenson", and "Mr. Henley" in articles such as Lang’s “At the Sign of the Ship” in books and magazines of the period.

The collaborative play Admiral Guinea (1884), one of four on which Henley and Stevenson worked, is not the most well known of their joint productions, yet it forms the basis for other more sophisticated work.  It was dedicated to Lang, perhaps indicating a strong emotional attachment to the author.  Henley's brother, Edward, the actor, also involved himself in the preparations for the drama and affected its outcome at the Playhouse Theatre.  William Archer had wanted additions to be made to the play in 1884 and, after a letter asking for a Prologue to be added, Henley answered:


Your "enteesymasy" (as Byron used to write it) is refreshing.  Also a little contagious.  I've no ideas for a Prologue; but honestly I'll cast round for same.  And if I can't get any tomorrow or next day, I'll write to Rudyard.  High prices haven't spoiled him, so far as I know.  But, then, etsettery, etsettery.  I can't answer for results.  And the very fact that (even if he wrote) the address of the Admiral and the sturdy Rudyardism of his own attitude towards the stage might make him turn off something which Miss R. would rather die than deliver - this, I say, gives and will give me pause.


There is a conflict here between Kipling’s “sturdy Rudyardism” about the theatre and the conventional person’s response.  Would Kipling’s Prologue have been too robust or laid too much emphasis on naturalism on the stage, it might be asked?  Would the audience have found it too challenging to their susceptibilities?  Indeed, would Miss Elizabeth Robins [the Miss R referred to by Henley], who was to deliver the opening remarks, have been embarrassed by its content, one might enquire?  It is unlikely since Elizabeth Robins went on to be a writer and famous women’s suffrage activist.  Kipling did not in fact produce the projected preface: but in the Prologue which in the end Henley himself wrote before its production, his feelings for Stevenson are as strong as they ever were, seen from the vantage point of many years past:


Once was a pair of Friends, who loved to chance

     Their feet in any by-way of Romance:

     They, like two vagabond schoolboys, unafraid

     Of stark impossibilities, essayed

     To make these Penitent and Impenitent Thieves,

     These Pews and Gaunts, each man of them with his sheaves

     Of humour, passion, cruelty, tyranny, life, 

     Fit shadows for the boards....


There is a continuation of the “boy” ethic of romance [“like two vagabond schoolboys”] which points up the emotional charge between Henley and Stevenson when they worked on the dual identity play.  And although they had produced Admiral Guinea together, when it came to the first theatre production Henley decided firmly to absent himself, lest the approving calls for "the author" be further cause for embarrassment about their former relationship.  The letter to Archer makes clear Henley’s reasons for this:


For one thing , my nerves are not what they used to be; and for another - this is the thief - I feel I have an impracticable diffidence in the matter of R.L.S., which compels me to thrust myself into no breach, and to risk no possibility of applause, on account of work done in common, alone.  You have noted, or not, that I have held my tongue since his death.  I have done so for many reasons; which I will not set forth here.  For these same reasons I purpose to be absent on Monday afternoon.  There might be - for your sake I hope there will be - calls for "The Author".  I'm not on in that show.  My delicacy may seem absurd.  Absurd let it seem.  That it is prudent I am sure.

 The reasons why Henley felt it necessary to be discreet are complex.  There is a recognition that collaborative work is executed alone and that accreditation must not be given to the one without the other.  Henley had long severed his emotional bonds with Stevenson and did not want any awakening of interest by West End audiences to revive them.  His suppressed and tightly-controlled feelings for Stevenson were never more to be allowed to come out into the open, and his presence at the first production of the play was not to be the occasion for a reopening of hurts and wounded feelings which had been stemmed since the play was collaboratively written in 1884.

The collaboration by Stevenson and Henley involves three other plays, Deacon Brodie (1880), Beau Austin, (1884) and Macaire (1884), and was undertaken, by Stevenson at least, out of love and pity.  By the account of John Connell, Stevenson, it would appear, had formed an affection for Henley at the hospital of Dr. Lister in Edinburgh, and since those days Henley commanded a degree of power over Stevenson which was not broken until the disagreement which arose over the authentic origins of the story purportedly told by Fanny Stevenson, which Henley claimed was derivative of one written by Katherine de Mattos.  Henley claimed that the story was based on one which Fanny Stevenson had discussed openly in front of Henley with de Mattos.  Katherine had some years before proposed that a story could include a character escaped from an asylum, with the action to take place on a railway journey.  Fanny had liked the idea and, some years afterwards, had written up a story which could be construed, possibly, to be the one which Henley knew had come from Katherine,  but the intellectual property argument was extremely loosely based when it came to a simple idea which was only couched in general terms with a very sketchy plot outline. 

Here is a fascinating argument concerning a dispute over a woman's play supposedly plagiarised by another woman and the chivalrous support of the men rushing to the defence of the separate parties.  The whole affair was the cause of an unhappy and unnecessary rupture and led to a long-lasting dispute arising out of the misogyny and paternalism of the period.  There are other aspects — of masculinities, femininities and the status of the text — involved in the rancorous dispute.  It is not odd that Stevenson and Henley should have written Deacon Brodie a play set in Edinburgh about a weekend of roguery, robbery and double-dealing with a "double set of dice", whose sub-title was The Double Life, with a cast of thieves up to no good at the dead of night:


The city has its vizard on, and we - at night we are our naked selves.  Trysts are keeping, bottles cracking, knives are stripping; and here is Deacon Brodie flaming forth the man of men he is!

 The drama is a precursor of Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in its multiple confusions and changing of personalities.  “Is he the doctor, or the miscreant?”  “Where is he, where does he reside, and what is his identity?”  These questions can be seen as dealing largely with the fantasies behind the respectability of society, when men were faced with the challenge of the duplicity of their nature, whilst a patriarchal society expected certain rules of conduct and behaviour to be observed.  It is concerned with the longings for anonymity by creating another identity, the prohibitions of male sexuality, and with clinging tenaciously to last dreams of respectability.  The similarity of the theme is evident, for Brodie is a man, like Dr Jekyll, of high reputation, in Edinburgh rather than in London, who, at night, is a common burglar and the criminal activities covered by a cast-iron alibi.  Their lives too, Stevenson's and Henley's, could be viewed, at that period, as dwelling in a realm of double dealing — collaboration in a fiction concerned with the terror behind the loss of respectability and uprightness in the highly caste-ridden Edinburgh, such fiction reflecting the shock to the susceptibilities of the late-Victorian period.

There is a constant sub-text of bonding and duality mirroring their own collaborative synchronisation.  The main character, Deacon Brodie, leads a double life.  How could it be that a man who by day is a Deacon, or respected elder of his trade, carpentry, and by night a thief?  A group of rumbustious Scotsmen plan and execute a burglary in a play full of highwaymen and robbers.  "On with the new coat and into the new life!" exclaims the Deacon, as he dons a new personality.  A burglar himself, the Deacon catches and kills burglars which highlights the double standards within a play replete with cynicism.  It is shorthand for the complications that arise from dual identity, in a reversal of categories which signals the authors' complicity in a concealment of writing roles, as the respectable author attempts to present himself as possessed of a single identity, and not as one engaged in a duplicitous task of dual authorship. 

The Deacon executes a robbery, climbing over walls, breaking through a window, and undoing the locks.  But because he has "made a false step, [and] couldn't retrace it",  he changes identities from Deacon to robber and attempts to remake his lost fortune by stealing a dowry.  The plot refracts the actions of two men who have made a false step by engaging in a doubled enterprise to obtain money and critical acclaim from romance writing by the ‘dubious’ means of collaboration. 

The burglar's mask peeled off, he is revealed to be the well-known Deacon of the town, underlining the central theme of dualism, doubleness being a persistent coda throughout Stevenson’s work as in, for example, the profound duality exhibited by the two brothers, the two narrators, and the double funeral in The Master of Ballantrae.  (1889).  Whilst Walter Leslie protects the Deacon against detection by the authorities, Stevenson and Henley protect each other in a realm of double-dealing — to guard each other from allegations of complicity in a plot to convert themselves from respectable Victorian authors into disreputable ones.  At the end of the play there is an admission of guilt – nobody was guilty save the Deacon himself; no one else had been responsible and in taking his own life, he is his own executioner for a crime of double identity and double dealing.  He falls on another's sword in textual self-retribution for the sin of masquerading. 

The Scottish element, with its dialect speech form, must have come from Stevenson's pen, while the story line and plot development show something of Henley's skill in planning and editing.  The scenes between the venerable, paralytic father and the dutiless son are quite clearly imbued with the persona of Stevenson.  Stevenson's double life in Edinburgh between his new town parents and what was going on at the University, and the opposition between his father's Presbyterianism and Stevenson's gnosticism is clearly reflected in the play. 

Stevenson's rejection of his nurse, and of Cummy's Calvinist ethic in early boyhood led to the deep psychological patterns which produce the play about dualism in adult life.  By day the conformist late-Victorian nanny, by night she became the terrifying Calvinist teller of tales.  The slips and avoidances in bonding mirror the near misses and the narrow escapes of the plot of Deacon Brodie.  While Henley and Stevenson attempted, unsuccessfully it might be argued, to conceal their own activities, they constructed a plot which is highly charged with risk, evasion, duplicity, and the terror of discovery.  The Deacon, with the help of his friends, will go to any lengths, including murder, to conceal his dual identities as both Deacon and robber, respectable wright and cabinet maker by day, but villain by night, just as Dr Jekyll “committed to a profound duplicity of life”,  takes great pains to cover up the activities of the notorious Mr Hyde.  Like the Deacon's "false step", Henley and Stevenson's engagement in bonded activity might thus, also, be revealed to the reading public, with all the consequences for their reputations and, ultimately, the effects upon their sales.



James’s examination of Collaboration


James examines the nature of literary collaboration between men whose countries are enemies in his story entitled Collaboration set during the Franco-Prussian war.  The events surrounding the war — the siege of Paris in 1871 and its occupation by German soldiers — led to concerns about people’s lives when the population was reduced to intense suffering, and to speculations about what it must have meant to commit treason and collaborate with the enemy as a means for survival.  The cultural, social and political context of the Franco-Prussian war is remarkably complex.  Not only does the balance of power shift in Europe,  but the social fabric of life in Europe moves forward, and social patterns of change occur more frequently leading to the different perceptions of masculinities and femininities that are investigated in this thesis.  The diffused issue of gender identity as experienced by novelists like Henry James, and having as the epicentre of its anxieties the Oscar Wilde trials, intervenes at this point.  Although James rarely collaborated, he was aware of the sexual connotations surrounding collaboration between male authors concerning enervation and the loss of male power through domestication.  Why, it may be asked, several years after the war, did James write a short story, ‘Collaboration,  in which collaboration by a French poet and a German painter leads to social disgrace, the disbandment of an artistic project and the withdrawal of a financial subsidy; and why does col|aboration cause repepcussions, opprobrium and disdain?

A German painter, Hermann Heidenmauer, and a fashionable French poet, Félix Vendemer, decide on a joint aesthetic adventure during the Franco-Prussian war.  Set in a fashionable Paris salon, where the "Italian brocade on the walls appeals to one's highest feelings" the two protagonists, the poet and the composer, agree upon a plan to write an opera together.  The project between the two men comes to "appear less simple than the spectacle of a German finding it too hot for him in a French house"  because of the hostile attitudes towards Germans during the siege and occupation of Paris.

It presents difficulties for Heidenmauer who claims that such a joint exercise will appear as active agreement between national enemies.  The political events surrounding 1870-71, collaboration with an enemy and the concept of joint enterprise between artists were all linked.  A connection was made between national, political action and private, social interaction, as it was in post 1940 collaboration in Vichy France where women, in particular, were singled out for their collaborations and supposed sexual misdemeanours. 

 Nevertheless, Heidenmauer and Vendemer agree to collaborate.  It continues unabated, and the two men "are at the hour I write engaged", notes the narrator, "in their monstrous collaboration."  In the James story, the "abysses of shame and suffering"  which the collaboration would bring on the French poet's fiancée, Paule, are tantamount to an international incident.  For the hostess of the salon, Mme de Brindes, the idea of collaboration is inexcusable.  There remains a continual emphasis on the lofty and noble pursuit of collaboration and the text suggests that in the men’s determination to work together despite the attitudes of the society around them “there is something... that makes for civilisation.”.  Collaborative work here has aesthetic implications.  But collaboration turns to chauvinism, and chauvinism to a sense of national hatred. 

 An atmosphere of suspicion and hate is engendered by the Franco-Prussian war.  As soon as the German's step-brother in London is informed of the project, the financial subsidy to his step-brother is withdrawn and it collapses in disgrace and dishonour.  There is a rupture of "this unholy union"  which may suggest that to engage in collaboration was to engage in something not quite natural — this “unnatural alliance”.  Throughout the 1880s and 1890s there are continual suggestions made by J. K. Stephen, Jerome K. Jerome and others that joint work was somehow tainted with the suggestion of homosexuality.  Just as collaboration on the political level was considered immoral, so was joint work at the social, interactive and personal levels.

The praise and flattery accorded to an artist goes along with the blame and disapprobrium that is expressed over his/her work.  This was the case with the Heidenmauer/Vendemer project.  In James’s story, the work, with its French libretto, never reaches its intended conclusion in the fashionable opera house because of its “impure”, collaborative nature.  Some questions remain to be answered.  Why, then, it may be asked, is it in a work of art — an opera, that most declarative, public and socially cohesive of art forms—that James sets the scene for a work of collaboration which brings to the fore ideas of authorial co-operation, connectivity, integration and mutuality in an atmosphere of international distrust, hatred and shame?   Firstly it implies that joint authorship in the late-Victorian period is a cause for violent repercussions and blame, similar to collaboration with the national of an enemy state.  And secondly it implies that the act of collaboration is an action full of "profanity"  and that its nature might be the cause of a block to the efforts James may have wished to make in a possible collaboration with Stevenson. Writers like James were aware of the connotations that could be placed upon their proposed joint-work with other authors — of allegations of homosexuality and eroticism in a commercial interest.  The arguments which I develop in the course of my discussion on collaboration will expose the fraught nature of such engagements.

 James’s Interaction with Stevenson.

There existed a passionate feeling between Henry James and Stevenson which points the way to the thesis in this book, attempting as it does, to understand the intensive emotions behind the literary collaborations of the period 1885 - 1905.  Although James and Stevenson’s mediations did not reach fruition in a literary collaboration, there appeared an extensive correspondence between the two writers, as James’s December 1894 letter to Fanny Stevenson makes evident:


To have lived in the light of that splendid life, that beautiful, bountiful thing – only to see it, from one moment to the other, converted into a fable as strange and romantic as one of his own, a thing that has ended, is an anguish into which no one can drain the cup for you…but it was one of the best things in life that he was there, or that one had him – at any rate one heard of him, and felt him, and awaited him and counted him into everything one loved and lived for.  He lighted up one whole side of the globe, and was in himself a whole province of one’s imagination.


How far James is expressing his real feelings and whether he was ever sincere in his passion for Stevenson is difficult to gauge.  And how far he is indulging in a literary flight, allowing himself to be carried away by the flood-tide of his own creativity, is a further question.  As the writers travelled extensively, distance was not an obstacle to their continued friendship.  Stevenson’s letter of February 1890 is full of admiration for James’s work.  It became, so to speak, a last will and testament and a flippant coda to their entwined happiness:

            Union Club, Sydney.  February 19 1890


HERE in this excellent civilised, antipodean club smoking room, I have just read the first part of your Solution.  Dear Henry James, it is an exquisite art; do not be troubled by the shadows of your French competitors; not one, not de Maupassant, could have done a thing more clean and fine; dry in touch, but the atmosphere (as in a fine Summer sunset) rich with colour and with perfume.  I shall say no more; this note is De Solutione; except that I – that we – are all your sincere friends and hope to shake you by the hand in June.

                                                            Robert Louis Stevenson

                                                            Signed, sealed and

                                                            Delivered as his act

                                    And very thought of very thought

                        This nineteenth of February in the year of our

                        Lord one thousand eight hundred ninety

                        And nothing.


There ensued in the light of the interaction between the two men, Stevenson and James, gender cross-referencing, in terms of an historical figure, Cleopatra, and a French lady’s hairstyle from the 18th century Marquise de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV, “buccaneering Pompadour” and “wandering Wanton”, which is revealed in James’s reply made on 28 April of that year:


This fondest of hopes of all of us has been shattered in a manner to which history furnishes a parallel only in the behaviour of its most famous coquettes and courtesans.  You are indeed the male Cleopatra or buccaneering Pompadour of the Deep – the wandering Wanton of the Pacific.  You swim into our ken with every provocation and prospect – and we have only time to open our arms to receive you when your immortal back is turned to us in the act of still more provoking flight.


This appears as an elegant expression of the homosexual ethos of the period, particularly in view of the phrases used as gender cross referencing and thinly veiled homosexual meaning – “male Cleopatra”, “buccaneering Pompadour of the Deep”, and “wandering Wanton of the Pacific”.  It seems to court that Aubrey Beardsley sensitivity to homosexuality and the extravagance of dress often seen among homosexuals of the period who wore grossly feminine, bulbous dresses.  All writers have a different register that they use on certain occasions for differing purposes.  Here the register appears to be camp and provocative, while being overtly flirtatious and kittenish.  It may be asked if the hyperbole, the plangent fall of the rhythm and the lilt of the alliteration attempt to mark a certain insincerity.  James is artificial, but whether artificiality may be equated with insincerity is uncertain.  Certainly Wilde in The Decay of Living and The Picture of Dorian Gray argues the opposite, but the sincerity of his advocacy is doubtful.  The richness of James’s style and the variety of its rhythms and devices, and the reluctance to approach a point in my view indicates a man preoccupied with the process of language, prizing texture and tone almost above meaning.  When James lards Stevenson with these gorgeous, glittering, but finally rather absurd phrases, it could be argued with justification that the only passion that they adumbrate is that of James for language.  Too fearful to be homosexual, James indulged his love of words promiscuously and “wantonly”.

     Extracts from Stevenson’s letters to James published in The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, (1894) demonstrate the closed and privileged world of literary classes in the 1890s and the over sensitivity towards rivalry which existed amongst the literary groups in this study:


To Henry James August 7th

Kipling is too clever to live.


To Henry James, 29 December


Kipling is by far the most promising young man who has appeared since – ahem – I appeared.  He amazes me by his precocity and various endowment.  But he alarms me by his copiousness and haste.  He should shield his fire with both hands “and draw up his strength and sweetness in one ball.” (“Draw all his strength and all his sweetness up into one ball?” I cannot remember Marvell’s words.)  So the critics have been saying to me; but I was never capable of – and surely never guilty of – such a debauch of production.  At this rate his works will soon fill the habitable globe; and surely he was armed for better conflicts than these succinct sketches and flying leaves of verse?  I look on, I admire, I rejoice for myself; but in a kind of ambition we all have for our tongue and literature I am wounded.  If I had this man’s fertility and courage, it seems to me I could heave a pyramid.


The piece expresses a jealous reaction to James over Kipling that underlines the rivalries and objections that characterise collaboration in this period.  Kipling as the “countryman” is a threat to Stevenson’s position as a Scottish writer.  Stevenson had found Kipling to be “precocious”, “sweet” and “fertile” as well as being “hasty”.  These are not usually the characteristics of a writer who is admired from a discreet distance, but it suggests, rather, an emotional involvement by Stevenson with Kipling, and the rivalries of the group.  It seeks to defend a pristine cannon of literature that someone had dared to challenge, and appears to covet the talent and ability of Kipling who had achieved so much commercial success and had made such a deep impression on the literature of the late nineteenth-century.

It is possible to locate James and Stevenson together in Bond Street, where Stevenson, dressed rather camply for those days wearing a navy-blue shirt, red tie, velvet smoking-jacket and a sailor’s hat, encountered Ìang and James on the way to their club.  “No, no go away, , go awqy!” Lang reacted seeing his friend so apparelled.  “My character will stand a great deal, but it won’t stand being seen talking to a 'thing’ like you in Bond Street.”  There can be little doubt that James admired Stevenson’s work, for on 5 December 1884 James wrote to Stevenson in a fulsome way and referred to remarks in a previous letter of Stevenson’s which were, he remarked, “suggestive and felicitous.”  One wonders what the remarks actually suggested.  Not only that, but Stevenson’s letters too, James claimed were:


Full of these things, and the current of your admirable style floats pearls and diamonds.


The quality of Stevenson’s style, for James, was of a precious kind that offered something of great material value.  In the letter James assures Stevenson that “…we agree, I think, much more than we disagree” offering a justification for his (James’s) attempts at collaboration.  Indeed, in the same letter James suggests to Stevenson that he will tickle him:

 My pages, in Longman, were simply a plea for liberty: they were only half of what I had to say, and some day I shall try and express the remainder.  Then I shall tickle you a little affectionately as I pass.

 The suggestion of physical contact is a mere hint at physical love and in the context of the remarks is perhaps totally skittish.  The campness of the style arises from a tension about mannerisms that is a repressed factor in their work.  In a reply dated 8 December 1884, Stevenson in turn compares himself with James in a letter in which he regards himself as not nearly “so accomplished, so adroit, so craftsmanlike, as you.”  In comparison Stevenson declares that “when we come to speak of performance, I recognise myself, compared with you, to be a lout and slouch of the first water.”  This extract suggests that Stevenson held James in higher esteem than he did himself and expresses an inability to be able to match James in a collaborative work.  In the letter of 5 December James also mentions the “naïve gaiety” of all that Stevenson writes, offering another literary confection that calls more upon language, texture and prose than meaning.  However, Stevenson’s reaction to James’s overtures are not as positive as James may have wished, for in his letter of 8 December 1884 Stevenson calls for a different approach to novel writing and points out that they created stories and drafted ideas of characters in different ways:  (

 Of course, I am not so dull as to ask you to desert your walk ; but could you not, in one novel, to oblige a sincere admirer, and to enrich his shelves with a beloved volume, could you not, and might you not, cast your characters in a mould a little more abstract and academic… "

Stevenson appears to take on the elaborate, convoluted style of James in the letter where he praises James’s literary characteristics:


I fear you will not; and I suppose I must sighingly admit you to be right.  And yet, when I see, as it were, a book of Tom Jones handled with your exquisite precision and shot through with those side-lights of reflection in which you excel, I relinquish the dear vision with regret. 


There appears something of the circumlocution and expansiveness of James in these lines which carry a slightly erotic effect because of the inclusion of the suggestive words “sighingly”, “exquisite” and “dear”.  The accumulation of words bearing an erotic connotation leads to the suggestion that Stevenson was aware of the effect they would carry.  However, in a postscript Stevenson suggests that his (Stevenson’s) tone had been a little unfriendly: “and cannot think that I have at all succeeded in being either veracious or polite…”  Stevenson is evidently parodying and teasing James to the verge of rudeness, using the author’s own style in the playful rejection of his mediations.  In the postscript Stevenson says he has not succeeded in being either “veracious” or “polite”.  He has also been dismissive of the overtures and has been making fun of James.  But the question at issue is why is he not “veracious” or “polite”?  It appears that he is not being truthful about his (Stevenson’s) reasons for turning down James’s approaches.  It is not his appreciation of James’s style that is faulty or not “veracious”, because he understands James’s style enough to parody it; therefore, it must be for the reasons mentioned above that he has not been honest in the reason he has given for rejecting James’s mediations.  In this context, the jokiness of the letter is significant.  We make jokes about issues we do not feel comfortable with – with scatological references, racist remarks, sexist humour and so on.  The question that is raised is what was there in James’s approach that could have made Stevenson uncomfortable?  It was not the incompatibility in styles because Stevenson shows in his letters that he can easily write like James.  So the only issue that could have caused discomfort to Stevenson would have been the tone of James’s approach.

     In 1888 James writes to Stevenson with a reproachful air:

34 De Vere Gardens, W.

July 31st [1888].

My dear Louis,

You are too far away--you are too absent --too invisible, inaudible, inconceivable. Life is too short a business and friendship too delicate a matter for such tricks--for cutting great gory masses out of ’em by the year at a time.…


The passion for Stevenson’s return is clear and the desire for Stevenson’s friendship is evident, yet he protests unavailingly.  In his replies Stevenson is clearly less engaged than James, and he is more amused and less emotional than James.

In the 5 December letter from London to Stevenson in the South Seas, James begs Stevenson to return and informs Stevenson that he has not been replaced in his affections and that in his (James’s) own interests he needs Stevenson to return:


Therefore come back. Hang it all--sink it all and come back. A little more and I shall cease to believe in you: I don't mean (in the usual implied phrase) in your veracity, but literally and more fatally in your relevancy--your objective reality. You have become a beautiful myth--a kind of unnatural uncomfortable unburied mort. You put forth a beautiful monthly voice, with such happy notes in it-but it comes from too far away, from the other side of the globe, while I vaguely know that you are crawling like a fly on the nether surface of my chair. Your adventures, no doubt, are wonderful; but I don't successfully evoke them, understand them, believe in them. I do in those you write, heaven knows--but I don't in those you perform, though the latter, I know, are to lead to new revelations of the former and your capacity for them is certainly wonderful enough. This is a selfish personal cry: I wish you back; for literature is lonely and Bournemouth is barren without you. Your place in my affection has not been usurped by another-for there is not the least little scrap of another to usurp it.

Stevenson remains safe in James’s affections and no one can replace him, making it possible to see a potential collaboration taking place.  A while later Stevenson refers to James as a highly sophisticated writer and James, in turn, praises Stevenson’s uncompleted novel The Master of Ballantrae (1896)  James confesses to Stevenson that the reaction its composition occasioned in him was intensive: “The intensest throb of my literary life as that of many others has been The Master of Ballantrae – a pure hard crystal, my boy, a work of ineffable and exquisite art.”  The closeness in the way that James uses the term “my boy” indicates an emotional attachment to Stevenson here, unless it can be considered as mere pedantry of the kind routinely exchanged between writers.  Yet there is a special tone to these letters that differs from the tone that James uses in his conversation with, for example, Mrs. Henry Adams: ‘“Hosscar” Wilde is a fatuous fool, tenth-rate cad,’ ‘an unclean beast.’  It can be imagined what would have been the reaction of Mrs. Henry Adams if she had been referred to as the “Cleopatra or buccaneering Pompadour of the Deep.”  In the same way, it can be seen that James was capable of writing to other correspondents like the publisher, J.B. Pinker in calm and measured terms:


I have written, in perfection, 200,000 words of the G.B. -- with the rarest perfection! -- and you can imagine how much of that, which has taken time, has had to come out. It is not, assuredly, an economical way of work in the short run, but it is, for me, in the long; and at any rate one can proceed but in one's own manner. My manner however is, at present, to be making every day -- it is now a question of a very moderate number of days -- a straight step nearer my last page, comparatively close at hand.


James also wrote to his nephew about a visit to France including details of a motor car and chauffeur in beautiful, ornamented prose without any emotional effect or without showing any kind of exaggerated tone:


…this large, smooth old France is wonderful (wisely seen, as we are seeing it,) and I know it already much more infinitely well. The motor is a magical marvel -- discreetly and honourably used, as we are using it -- and my hosts are full of amenity, sympathy, appreciation, etc. (as well as of wondrous other servanted and avant-courier'd arts of travel,) so that we are an excellent combination and most happy family -- including our most admirable American chauffeur from Lee, Mass., whose native Yankee saneness and intelligence (projected into these unprecedented conditions) makes me as proud of him as he is of his Panhard car.

  The sentiments that James frequently expressed to Stevenson were reciprocated by him also in the period of their friendship.  In a poem which was published in Underwoods Magazine in 1887, James was the “One Who Sees” and a literary promise is made that Stevenson would wait in the blue room of his father’s house in Skerryvore until James, “the Prince of men” should appear:


            Now with outlandish grace

            To the sparkling fire I face

            In the blue room at Skerryvore

            And I wait until the door

Open, and the Prince of men

Henry James, shall come again.

 If James were the “Prince of men” and Stevenson were “the one who waits” we could perhaps read this as a relationship of cordial service and the rendering of a superior’s favours, and a sign of the reverence in which Stevenson held James.  A further indication was the manner in which Stevenson attempted in an aberrant state of mind, by using the first syllable of Henry James’s name, Hen, to sign the letter and, realising his mistake, then adding an amendment:

"You see my state of idiocy: I begin to sign this “Henry James”: The asylum yawns for me."

  It is not to suggest that compliments are the stuff of male bonding.  But the effusion with which the exchange of letters was accomplished, their regularity and frequency, and the glowing terms in which they are addressed are couched in terms far above the usual pleasantries in literary convention which are usually written in plain, unadorned language.  James sprang to the defence of Stevenson in an article to be published in Century Magazine in a letter of October 1888: “…it is so humorous, and it hits my little frailties with so neat (and friendly) a touch.”  It may not be too unusual to suggest that the use of the phrase “my little frailties”, and “so neat (and friendly) a touch” were references to their own personal inadequacies in the friendship.  The special tone of these remarks indicates that Stevenson is attracted to the prospect of a collaboration, that he likes James and that he finds James’s work pleasant and agreeable.

  Male literary collaborations took place between Wordsworth and Coleridge, Spenser and Harvey and Beaumont and Fletcher, as well as collaborations in other fields of enterprise.  It had not become a lost tradition by the late nineteenth-century, therefore.  And it is not to argue that literary collaborations are founded on effusions and the exchange of correspondence, as in James and Stevenson, but rather on sound principles of work and endeavour, whether it be in collaborations in the literary field, musical, operatic, technical, engineering, sporting, theatrical, sculpting or painting.  The production of a newspaper or a magazine, for example, is another collaborative activity as well as many aspects of work and leisure.  It is evident that, although there was a great deal of mediation between Stevenson and James, their interactions did not result in a final published work of collaboration.  Yet James wrote with authority on the subject of collaboration in the short story entitled “Collaboration” that I dealt with above, concerning the psychology of the sexual implications of collaboration, suggesting that he understood the repercussions that may result from a literary work done in collaboration.  It is possible to argue that this story, about the collaborative venture of a German painter and a French poet in the writing of an opera, is a cloak for the feelings which James, an American of Irish and Scottish provenance, entertained about his correspondence with the Scot Stevenson.  It is quite clear that the question of nationality, and collaboration between different nationalities, has an important bearing on the matter, because the two were “marginal” rather than metropolitan Englishmen.  Stevenson, Lang, Wilde, James, Balestier, Conrad and Kipling were on the fringes of English patriarchy; indeed, none of these writers claimed a standard, southern English citizenship.  It is also possible that James, who showed abhorrence of Wilde’s flamboyance in wearing knee breeches, and also because James’s friend, Mrs Henry Adams, had declined to see Wilde on the grounds that he was “a noodle”,  had a sense of discomfort with his correspondence with Stevenson. 

As Janet Adam Smith expressed it, Stevenson and James were “linked… by the closest ties of personal affection”.  The writers used extraordinary terms to address each other as part of the literary confections of the period: Stevenson is the “trapezist in the Pacific void”.  Also writing in April 1889, in a frustrated mood of lost camaraderie James exclaims: “I will try and hold on through it must be something very radical.  Your chieftains are very dim to the barren months.  I will go to Mrs. Sitwel, to hear what has made you blush – me – why shouldn’t they be when you yourself are?”  In similar terms James wrote to Stevenson in March 1890 in a letter that anticipated his meeting Stevenson again, with some concern at Stevenson’s possible spurning of him:


Let me break that silence then, before the bliss of meeting you again (heaven speed the day) is qualified, in prospect, by the apprehension of your disdain.


James missed Stevenson greatly when he lived in the South Seas for the benefits of his health, and seemed to envy Stevenson his living in Samoa.  He wrote to Colvin mentioning “Louis’s wondrous lustiness”, and suggested that literature would suffer by his continuance in Saranack: “Oh, yes, I’m afraid it must suffer, it can’t help it.”

The defence of Stevenson is strongly argued and might suggest that James was a moth to the flame of Stevenson’s literary talent.  James came to the defence of Stevenson in the Autumn of 1887 in an article which was to be published in Century Magazine the following April.  William Archer had come to the attention of the writers in an article in Time Magazine  in which he complimented Stevenson, but the article also contained criticisms about a “lightness of touch” and about the superiority of Stevenson’s “manner” to his content, both reasonable criticisms, which James was to defend with energy and also at great length.  James referred to Stevenson as “the bright particular genius” and defended his novels including Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with fulsome praise by explaining that they had been written by an invalid in the confines of his sickroom under circumstances of difficulty.  James went to some lengths to praise aspects of Stevenson’s style of writing and, in particular, made a painstaking defence of the majority of Stevenson’s published work, possibly because Stevenson’s established position had been challenged by Archer.  The defence which was raised by James over Archer’s criticism was more than is commonly thought needed to rebut a quite minor criticism, when the thrust of Archer’s article was complimentary, causing some distress to Stevenson due to the slight about his lack of weight in brushwork, and the accusation that his character drawing was free from robustness.  Perhaps there was special pleading by James on Stevenson’s behalf.  But Archer was actually engaged in an exercise to capture Stevenson’s attention and patronage which James may have realised and attempted to forestall.  Archer was noted for such attempts to gain attention later when he threw his attention upon Bernard and Charlotte Shaw.

In these letters showing the interactions between the two writers, referring to “buccaneering Pompadour of the Deep” and so on, Stevenson is clearly less engaged and more amused, being less emotional than James.  The tone of the letters of 19 August 1890 and 7 August 1890, and the letter of 29 December 1894 is friendly and witty but not passionate.  The letters of 19 February 1890 and 29 December 1894 almost seem to parody James’s own style, with tricks of parenthesis, obscure references, and repetitious and convoluted mannerisms.  Does this indicate, it might be asked, that Stevenson himself found the overtures of James oddly effusive and even uncomfortable and therefore takes refuge in mockery of James in this way?  That there is an emotional or intellectual or even practical, financial block to the efforts Stevenson may have wanted to make towards a possible collaboration with James becomes a further concern that may need some elucidation.

 The interactions of Stevenson and James are flirtatious, subjective and emotional whereas literary criticism normally commands the cool, the rational and the objective.  Yet, in the heightened atmosphere in which these writers moved, it may have been more nearly the norm than is usually considered appropriate.  In such incestuous literary groups forms of address and terms of endearment may have been quite acceptable, whilst to outsiders they may have appeared to suggest that these writers were members of a homosexual coterie.  However, the impression cannot be overcome that James is using a persuasive line of veiled homosexual patter to attract Stevenson towards collaboration with him, suggesting a registering of possibilities for collaboration apart from the commercial, and, yet, what kind of results may have been achieved is open to some serious doubt.



Publication with single accreditation.


If an act of literary collaboration is meant to consist in the preparation and execution of a work of art by two people writing together, then it is not unreasonable to expect that the resulting work would, and arguably should, be recognised as emanating from the joint efforts of the two writers.  It is extraordinary, therefore, that on numerous occasions the collaborative work is not recorded as being the result of the efforts of two writers, but is presented as the work of only one writer.

     Not that there is a ‘secret shame’ in collaborating, but single-named work may suggest that there was a degree of jealousy about the way in which entry to authorship was guarded.  Publication with single accreditation may have been the preserve of the person who submitted the manuscript to the publisher, a case of it being in the handwriting of the more acceptable writer, or perhaps it may have reflected the persuasive abilities of one of the authors to the disadvantage of the other.  Some of Lang's collaborators, for example, are not accredited as being co-authors.  The assistance given by Haggard to Lang over the writing of "Prince Prigio" (1889) is recorded in the Preface to the edition.  Haggard may have given some practical help, for a note in the Preface gives a hint about Haggard's involvement in the development of the plot, stating that ""The Return of Benson" (Chapter XII) is the fruit of the research of the late Mr. Allan Quatermain", which suggests that, although it may be an acknowledgement by Lang of Haggard's help in its production, no real accreditation of authorship is given to Haggard.

     Stevenson's co-authorship of Where Is Rose? (1882) with Lang, and certainly that of Blanche Leonore Alleyne, with her partner Lang, resulted in the works not being accredited to them.  Mrs Lang was the editor of and assisted in at least four of the story books that were accredited to Andrew Lang.  This appears to be an outrageous example of late-Victorian patriarchy in his relations with his wife, Blanche Leonore, on the part of Lang whose self-centred nature was well recorded by Stevenson, as in the example of him [Lang] preening himself in the mirror of the blue room at Skerrryvore.  In a letter to Stevenson in which the date is only given as "Sunday" [1882], Lang asks:


Where is Rose?... Won't you help me to write "Where is Rose?"  You would enjoy it, I'm sure.  If you will, I will send you a scenario...  Yours very truly,  A. Lang. 

 In a further letter dated by Marysa Demoor, "somewhere about the 12th, certainly not more than the 14th. [1882?]", Lang again requests Stevenson's co-operation: "Why don't you do Rose?  We'll make a fortune out of Longman if you would..."   It appears that there were, indeed, commercial interests in the writing of romance in a "new", doubled genre featuring technology, adventure and homoeroticism.

 Lang collaborated with, and is attributed as author with Walter Leaf and Ernest Meyers, with Paul Sylvester on The Dead Leman (1889), a tale of intrigue in France.  He collaborated with S. H. Butcher on The Odyssey, with A. E. W. Mason, W. E. Herries Pollock, with his brother, John Lang, and others.  It was sometimes the case that Lang's name, but not that of his collaborator, was inscribed on the title page.  Kipling's collaboration with Haggard over the production of Red Eve and Allan and the Ice Gods is not acknowledged on the spines of the books or on the dedication pages and, whilst it is the characters who were produced by Kipling's fertile imagination, as we saw, it is the story line of Wi the Hunter and his adventures in an imaginary Ice Land which is credited to Haggard, his name being given as the author.

In Conrad’s reply to a review of ‘The Inheritors’ which had appeared in The New York Times Saturday Review,   he complained that the reviewer entirely omitted any reference to Ford as collaborator.  Expressing regret at the contents of the review, Conrad draws attention to the single attribution and asks that the record be put straight:


It might have been wished, too, that the fact of the collaboration had been made more evident on the face of the book.

 That there are no acknowledgements to the co-author in many cases is one of the regrettable features of collaboration.  Indeed, the posthumous publication Conrad’s The Works of Joseph Conrad (1925)   does not state explicitly that some of the stories, for example, The Inheritors, Romance and The Nature of a Crime were written collaboratively with Ford.  It is the case that single accreditation had certain advantages to collaborators, if only for the acclaim and fame it may have drawn, and not to mention any pecuniary advantage.


This is collaboration if you like!”: Conrad and Ford’s On-Off Collaboration.


Somewhat later in the period in question Joseph Conrad collaborated with Ford Maddox Ford (Hueffer) and their spirited yet intermittent work together led to much consternation and occasional disagreement.  The working relationship between Conrad and Ford came about as a result of external as well as internal causes.  According to Max Saunders, Conrad, in his quest to obtain a literary collaborator had been recommended several literary figures to be a possible co-worker.  It was, Ford recounts, W. E. Henley who pointed to Ford as a suitable choice for Conrad.  A letter from Conrad to Henley bears out the contention that a literary bonding was being mediated between Conrad and Ford, who had been brought together by Edward Garnett.  The letter suggested that a literary collaboration between them might occur.  Henley’s reply had apparently made the claim that the projected collaboration would somehow hurt Conrad’s reputation.  Although Henley had warned Conrad not to underestimate the dangers of entering into a collaboration with Ford, Conrad wrote in reply:


...and that the material being of a kind that appeals to my imagination and the man being an honest workman we could turn out something tolerable -  perhaps.  It never entered my head I could be dangerous to Hueffer in the way you point out....


The kind of objection to collaborative activity is voiced once again by another who foresaw the dangers of an established author teaming up with a less well-known one. 

In Conrad and Ford’s The Inheritors (1901) the narrator receives an offer to collaborate on a book.  His hesitancy to accept catches the mixture of responses Conrad’s proposal evoked in Ford.  Ford thinks at first he is wanted as “a ghost writer” and is somewhat disdainful of the offer, but afterwards agrees to proceed.  Literary collaboration was not particularly uncommon when Conrad proposed it to Ford, but neither was it considered the proper way for serious novelists, as Ford was aware: “The critics of our favoured land do not believe in collaboration,”  he (Ford) warned.

Often an unused passage of text is more revealing since its cancellation may have resulted from a desire to suppress.  In an unpublished section of Ford’s biography of Conrad of 1924, he withholds a revealingly frank passage of confession about his team writer where he contradicts the argument that Conrad “chose to live on terms of intimacy with a parasitic person” by stating that such an accusation was as damaging to himself as it was to Conrad.  Ford continues in the same vein about the choices open to Conrad, defending himself from criticism and showing awareness of the psychology behind co-writing:

 Among the key conditions needed for true bonding is the shared space where the bonding parties can have equal access and interaction.  These shared spaces usually constitute real time access for all bonding partners with one serving as both a "model object" and a guide.  A number of examples of one author leading and another author depending on the other were seen in this book, as Haggard followed Lang and often Ford acted as a satellite to Conrad while the total effect of the male collaboration created a force that resulted in dual literary work of a homoerotic kind.


[1]  John Connell, W. E. Henley (London: Constable, 1949.) 25.

[1]  Andrew Lang, "Recollections of Robert Louis Stevenson", Adventures Among Books (London: Longmans, Green, 1905) quoted in Wayne Koestenbaum, Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration (New York:  Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1989) 145.

Connell, W. E. Henley, 252.

[1]  Fanny Osbourne, Prefatory Note in Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (London: Chatto and Windus, 1886).

[1]  Henley to Anna Boyle.  Letter dated by ‘J.C.’ in the TLS, 1876-7.  Phillip’s Sale. 17 November 2000.  See Times Literary Supplement. 3 November 2000. 20.

[1]  ibid.

[1]   Stevenson to Henley, 1880.  Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, eds.  The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Vol. 3.  August 1879-September 1882. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) Vol 3. 1165.

[1]  Stevenson to Henley.  Dated by Booth and Mehew ‘?Mid - October, 1883.’  Booth and Mehew, Vol. 3.  1161.

[1]  Henley to Stevenson quoted in Paul Maixner, Robert Louis Stevenson:  The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1981) 415.

[1]  Stevenson to Henley.  Dated by Booth and Mehew ‘?15 November, 1883.’  Booth and Mehew. Vol. 3. 1178.

[1]  Stevenson to Henley. April 1882.  Booth and Mehew, Vol. 3. 947.

[1  Booth and Mehew, Vol. 3. 947.

[1]  Connell, W. E. Henley, 257.

[1]  W. E. Henley,  "Against the Seraph in Chocolate, The Barley Sugar Effigy",  Pall Mall Gazette  XXV, 505-14. (December 1901) quoted in Maixner, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Critical Heritage,  494-500.

[1]  Henley,  "Against the Seraph in Chocolate",  505-14.

[1]  Pall Mall Gazette,  XXV.  December, 1901. 505-14 quoted in Maixner, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Critical Heritage, 497.

[1]  Baxter. Letters 189-91 in Booth and Mehe 130.

[1]  Baxter. Letters 189-91 in Booth and Mehew, 131.

[1]   Lang, “At the Sign of the Ship”, Longman's Magazine, Vol. XI, November 1887.  677.

[1]  See W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson, Three Plays: Deacon Brodie, Beau Austin and Admiral Guinea (London: David Nutt, 1892). 

[1]  Connell, W. E. Henley, 325.

[1]  Connell, W. E. Henley, 326.

[1]  Henley to Archer, 25 November 1897.  Connell, W. E. Henley,  327.

[1]  Katherine de Mattos did not succeed in getting the story published in any of the magazines to which she submitted it.  See Letter W. E. Henley to Stevenson,  2032. 9 March, 1888.  Booth and Mehew, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson  Vol 6. 130-131.

[1]  W. E. Henley and Robert Louis Stevenson, Deacon Brodie: or the Double Life (Edinburgh:  Constable, 1880)  25.

[1]  Henley and Stevenson, Deacon Brodie: or the Double Life,  866.

[1]  Philip Callow, Louis: A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson (London: Constable, 2001)Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae: a Winter's Tale (London: Cassell, 1889).

[1]   ibid.

[1]  Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 81.

[1]   A. Lang, Prince Prigio and Prince Ricardo (London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1889).

[1]  Note in the Preface of  Andrew Lang, Prince Prigio and Prince Ricardo, ix.

[1]  Ms. letter from Lang to Haggard.  Ditchingham House collection.  no date.

[1]  Letter from Lang to Stevenson, dated "Sunday" [1882].  Lockwood Collection. Quoted in Marysa Demoor,  Dear Stevenson. Letters from Andrew Lang to Robert Louis Stevenson  (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1990) 51.

[1]  Letter from Lang to Stevenson, dated by Demoor around the 12th and certainly not more than the 14th. [1882].  Lockwood Collection.  Quoted in Demoor, Dear Stevenson. Letters from Andrew Lang to Robert Louis Stevenson, 60-61.

[1]  A. Lang, Walter Leaf and Ernest Meyers,  The Iliad  (London:1883).  See  The Illiad and the Odyssey.  Extracts from the translations by Lang, Leaf and Myers, and Butcher and Lang, (London: Macmillan, 1935).

[1]  Paul Sylvester and Andrew Lang, The Dead Leman  Trans. from La Morte Amoureuse of Théophile Gautier and other tales from the French.  (London: Swan Sonnenschien, 1889.

[1]  See S. H. Butcher and A. Lang, The Odyssey of Homer.  Done into English Prose (London: Macmillan, 1879) 1-416, with a Preface in what is undoubtedly Lang's style.  Lang collaborated with S. H. Butcher (1850-1910) on a translation of The Odyssey  during 1879.  See Demoor,  Dear Stevenson. Letters from Andrew Lang to Robert Louis Stevenson, n. 43.

[1]  Andrew Lang and A. E. W. Mason, Parson Kelly 1898.  Academy Magazine carried a report before April, 1898 that "Mr Andrew Lang is collaborating in a romance with A.E.W. Mason." [Parson Kelly].  The story was published serially in Longman's Magazine from January to November, 1898.  Published as A. E. W. Mason and A. Lang, Parson Kelly (London: Newnes, 1908).

[1]   Andrew Lang and W. E. Herries Pollock, He: A Parody of She by the Authors of It, King Solomon's Wives and Bess.  (London: W. Reade, 1887.)

[1]  Andrew Lang and John Lang, Hyways and Byways in the Border (1911). (London: Macmillan, 1913).  See also Andrew Lang, Border Life in Days Gone By (London: Macmillan, 1913) facsimile ed. Lang Syne Publishers, Newton Grange, Midlothian: 1955).

[1]  Review of Conrad’s “The Inheritors” in The New York Times Saturday Review 13 July 1901. 499.

[1]  Conrad, Collected Letters, ii, 55.

[1]  Joseph Conrad,  The Works of Joseph Conrad (London: Grant, 1925).

[1]  Max Saunders, Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life Vol 1. The World Before the War (Oxford University Press, 1996) 110.  F. R. Karl, and L. Davies, Gen. Eds., Joseph Conrad, Collected Letters ii, (Cambridge University Press, 1983 – 90) 107-8.

[1]  Conrad, Collected Letters  ii, 107-8.

[1]  Conrad to Henley, 18 October 1898.  Conrad, Collected Letters.  ii. 108.