One of our main aims is to make clear the importance of Stevenson as an essayist. In his own lifetime and in the following decades, his essays were included among his most important works. But with Modernism, the personal essay (despite its noble ancestry from Montaigne onwards) fell into disrepute—was even declared to be ‘dead’. In part this is because the essay is in an undefined position at the edge of the literary system, yet it is a focus of innovative writing in the USA today.
By providing a proper edition with notes, background information to composition, variants and an index we hope to allow both scholars and ordinary readers to take a fresh look at these works. People in the past who have read them have always been very impressed, then surprised to see so little written about them. Our edition hopes to make clear the importance of Stevenson’s essays—and even if it doesn’t, the editors are enjoying working together on the project anyway.