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Treasure Island - by Robert Louis Stevenson

One of the most frightening yet fascinating periods of Channel Island history are the years when pirates roamed the Pacific coast. These threatening men and their ships found the Channel Islands a good location for hiding out between raids. There are stories of pirates who attacked the mainland, and stories of treasures lost at sea. There is also a story of treasured buried on one of the Channel Islands.

The period of 1500 - 1820 was a time when Spain dominated the New World under decree from the Pope in Rome. The Spanish Main was the path the ships took to ferry the New World gold and silver from mines in Central and South America to Spain. Another route laden with treasure ships was the Pacific current that carried ships from the Philippines to California to Mexico. These are the ships that passed through the Channel waters laden with tempting Spanish-held treasures. Pirates from other countries, and privateers hired by other national governments, desired to take a share in this New World wealth, and often attacked the Spanish ships - both along the Main in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and also along the paths of the Manila Galleons in the Pacific.

One of the most famous pirate stories ever written is Treasure Island. Penned by an ailing Robert Louis Stevenson on his sick bed in Switzerland, this colorful tale captures the challenges of life at sea during the reign of the pirates. Stevenson, who had come to California to win his California wife-to-be's hand in marriage, then returned with her and her children to Europe. During this European time in his life, he sought cures for his childhood ailment of tuberculosis, with his wife, Fanny, at his side. Stevenson was a Scott, educated in Law, who went to Paris to join the artistic bohemia of his time, and there he met Fanny. They married in California, and for detail on their courtship, the Camp has a study section developed on Stevenson's California experience.

After their time in Europe together as man and wife, they visited Hawaii and then moved to Samoa in the South Pacific, presumably to enjoy a more exotic and colorful life in the tropics. Imagine a sickly man, writing of the alluring yet dangerous tropics in Treasure Island, finally having the chance to life his tropical dream with Fanny and family in Samoa. Stevenson was respected by the native Samoans and is buried in Samoa.

Robert Louis Stevenson Biography

Robert Louis Stevenson in California

Treasure Island Reading Challenge

Channel Secret Treasure Challange

Background materials
Preparation for reading or watching Treasure Island
(Pages Outside of Camp Internet Will Open in New Window)


Treasure Island online - choices for e text versions:

University of Virginia
From England
Treasure Island Online
Treasure Island Illustrations
Treasure Island Maps
More Treasure Island Maps

Suggested Treasure Island Films available on video

Wishbone's Salty Dog
Muppets Treasure Island
Walt Disney's Treasure Island

Artists and Pirates
H. Pyle
NC Wyeth


Pirate Projects for you to do:



Learn the parts of the Pirate's Ship

Ship diagram

Ship parts

Design a Pirate Flag

California Pirate and Famous Ship Living History Re-enactments:

Bouchard at San Juan Capistrano each October

Tall Ship Battle at Dana Point

Captain Cook's Endeavour voyage re-enacted