An Inland Voyage

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Other authorsNoel Rooke (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1912




London: Chatto and Windus, 1912. One of 250 copies (#50) of the Special Edition of the illustrated edition. Bound in full vellum lettered in gilt with gilt illustration on front cover. Folding map.


Robert Louis Stevenson was not only a gifted writer; he was also an indefatigable traveller. His thirst for adventure was formed by his boyhood visits to remote Scottish lighthouses, and he spent much of his life fleeing the rigours of cold climes and social orthodoxy. Along the way he travelled through the Cevennes with a donkey, booked passage to and across America, and finally famously settled in Samoa in the South Pacific. The canoeing trip through Belgium and northern France that Stevenson describes in An Inland Voyage was taken in 1876, when the author was 26 years old. Stevenson and his companion, Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson, each had a kayak-style wooden canoe, with a deck and rigged with a sail. Starting in Belgium and then travelling downriver in France from Maubeuge (near Mons) to Pontoise on the outskirts of Paris, the book paints a charming picture of Western Europe at a more innocent time.Travel writing.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member thorold
The model for endless subsequent cruising memoirs, but still worth going back to for the freshness and liveliness of RLS's prose. He was a relatively early adopter of the late-Victorian touring canoe craze inspired by MacGregor, and on this trip through Belgian and French rivers he and his travelling companion (quaintly only identified in the text by the name of his boat, the Cigarette) were something of a novelty for the people they encountered, so there's a feeling of exploration even though they are rather close to home. Occasionally he allows himself to be a bit too patronising about working-class French people, but most of the time it's very agreeable to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Stevenson and a friend travel along the French canals and rivers in canoes for "leisure". Outdoor travel for leisure was unusual for the time and they were often mistaken for traveling salesman, but the novelty of their canoes would occasion entire villages to come out and wave along the river banks. Very well written, Stevenson was a true Romantic. Like many of his works, this one is fairly unique, nothing else he wrote since is quite like it in style or tone. It paints a delightful atmosphere of Europe in a more innocent time with its quirky inn keepers, traveling entertainers and puppeteers, old men who had never left their villages, ramshackle military units parading around with drums and swords, gypsy families who lived on canal barges.… (more)
LibraryThing member mbmackay
This was the first book published by RLS - he had earlier writings printed in magazine, but this was his first book.
I read this after reading Travels With a Donkey which was his next work to be published. Both are "travel literature" and both relate the story of rough travels in France - a little like an early backpacker experience - where the discomfort and inconvenience is a necessary part of the story to later told.
I found this work to be less polished than Travels with a Donkey, and when I found it was the earlier piece, I was able to retrospectively see the L-plates on the author. He seems to be trying too hard to impress. But by the second half of the book, I found the writing flowed better, contained more interesting insights, and was generally more pleasing.
A good read, particularly in relation to observing the development of the author.
Read Nov 2015.
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