In the South Seas records Stevenson’s travels with his wife Fanny and their family in the Marquesas, the Paumotus, and the Gilbert Islands during 1888-9. Originally drafted in journal form while Stevenson travelled, it was then ambitiously rewritten to describe the islands and islanders as well as Stevenson’s own personal experiences. These revisions continued when Stevenson settled on the Samoan island where he died in 1894, and In the South Seas was published posthumously in 1896. Its combination of personal anecdote and historical account, of autobiography and anthropology, of Stevenson and South Sea islands, has a particular charm.
Neil Rennie, who provides in this Penguin Classics edition the first critically emended text, writes: “In the South Seas, for all its imperfections, is a classic of Pacific travel, the work of the best British writer to see the South Seas … Stevenson had travelled far from Treasure Island.”