IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
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Travel writer and journalist Gail Simmons follows in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson as she walks from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire to Tring in Hertfordshire via Great Missenden and Wendover, tracing not only the changes in the landscape of the last years but also those yet to come with the imminent arrival of the controversial HS2, the high-speed railway from London to Birmingham.
Just as Stevenson spoke to people he met along the way, Simmons encounters those whose lives will be affected by HS2: a tenant farmer, a retired businessman-turned-campaigner, a landscape historian and a conservationist. In the autumn of a young, unknown travel writer called Robert Louis Stevenson walked from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire to Tring in Hertfordshire. Stevenson observed the natural world, reflecting on the experience of walking across this landscape at a time when England was still largely agrarian and when most people still earned their living from working the land.
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By this he meant that a central tenet of the form was empathy or, as Michael Holroyd suggests, the story of a relationship between a writer and his subject. Holroyd adds that biographers can also "hide themselves behind their subjects, inhabiting those invisible spaces between the lines of print" Holroyd There is between them a ceaseless discussion, a reviewing and questioning of motives and actions and consequences, a steady if subliminal exchange of attitudes, judgments and conclusions" Footsteps Beginning with the hero-worship of the period before Langogne and moving towards the wisdom of separation.
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It led me towards biography" Footsteps Now, they lay before them outlined clearly on the road; then, as the road curved round a bend, the shadows sailed in ghostly fashion along the mountains like a cloud, changing form and direction with the meanderings of the way. These shadows, flying before and after, would be cast, although Stevenson could not know it, into time as well as into space.
Holmes would perceive them and be fascinated by their variable nature. One dawn, on the ridge of Le Goulet where Stevenson had listened in enchantment to the sounds of the world. Holmes finds himself overwhelmed by homesickness. It makes him weep, although he does not understand why.
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But what he does not say—and we can hear—is that it is also a plea to those who come after us, to capture what we send out on the stream of life and take it home and make something of it:. Dark brown is the river, Golden is the sand, It flows along forever, With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating, Castles of the foam, Boats of mine a-boating— When will all come home? On goes the river, Out past the mill, Away down the valley,.
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Away down the river, A hundred miles or more, Other little children Shall bring my boats ashore. RLS Verses Malcom Bradbury and Sigmund Ro eds.
London: Edward Arnold, Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer. London: Penguin, Dr Johnson and Mr Savage. London: Hodder and Stoughton, London: Abacus, Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination. London: Granta, Edinburgh: Mainstream, Oxford: Clarendon, Andrew Noble ed.
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New York: Akadine Press, Macfarlane writes: "Each stone had a story attached to it: a biography which stretched back in time for epoques" It does not correspond to the published Travels in every particular. Christopher Maclachlan, "Introduction" to Travels, xxiv-xxv. The day is divided regularly by bells into a variety of different occupations. Stevenson considers that this brings order and peace of mind: "We speak of hardship, but the true hardship is to be a dull fool, and permitted to mismanage life Those who write autobiographies walk the same line, though in an opposite direction, seeking not intimacy with another past, but some perspective on their own".
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Contents - Previous document - Next document. We look forward to welcoming the new recipients of the Fellowship to the stellar list of previous writers. To apply, and for full eligibility criteria, interested writers can visit the Scottish Book Trust website. View the discussion thread.