The Library


RLS was a man of enormous creative talent. His life-style reflected almost every aspect of his interests. He loved literature, music and art but, his writing was of paramount importance. From a historical perspective, the Library evolved and there were several configurations during the time the Stevensons occupied the upstairs.

The Library has a fireplace as does the Tapa room, directly below. The fireplaces were designed to make RLS feel at home since he’d always had a hearth nearby. It was also supposed that the altitude at Vailima generated a cooler climate than living on the coast and that a warm fire might be welcomed on a chilly night. There was also the idea that the fireplaces could be used to warm a room so that bed sheets could be dried during wet periods in the rainy season. The Samoan builders were unfamiliar with proper chimney construction methods and their design resulted in smoke filled rooms as fires were attempted. So the two fireplaces became decorative items and remain as conversation pieces today.

The Library shelves were lined with books which had to be varnished and treated to withstand the harsh climate and ravenous insects of Samoa. RLS, also known as Louis, had a writing table, a bed on which he gave dictation and slept, along with various other wall hangings and mementos he had gathered in his extensive travels around the world.

The bright colours of the walls were discovered from a microscopic examination of the many layers of paint which had been applied over the years. Fanny’s statements concerning her personal dislike for Louis’ tastes confirm that there was a vast difference of opinion between the two. Their differences made daily sharing of the same quarters incompatible and they co-existed in a together, but separate environment. The Library is a recreation of an oft published photograph of Louis dictating to Teuila (Isobel). Louis loved to sit in the Library because of the view of Mt. Vaea which prompted directions to his family to bury him there. Today the view of Mt. Vaea is hampered by the expansive verandas and the third wing, added after the Stevensons left Samoa.

The room now contains representations of what we know to be the original furnishings. Most of the books on the shelves are the same titles as RLS listed as his personal reading material. He constantly fueled his own creative energies by reading the works of others, both from classical literature and from contemporary authors, many of whom he personally knew.

The Library houses over 400 first and subsequent editions of Stevenson’s works. The books, letters and Stevensoniana are on loan from Tilafaiga Rex Maughan. It also houses the beautiful display of three rare first editions,¬†Treasure island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case if Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, presented during the grand opening ceremonies in December 1994, by the British high Commission.

The Library will be the repository of traveling exhibits from various aspects of the arts.