Treasure Island

Work Name: Treasure Island
Work Type:
Date: 1883
Movement: Modern Literature

Treasure Island (originally The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys) is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold." Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.

As one of the most frequently dramatised of all novels, Treasure Island was originally considered a coming-of-age story and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action. It was originally serialised in the children's magazine Young Folks from 1881 through 1882 under the title Treasure Island or the mutiny of the Hispaniola, credited to the pseudonym "Captain George North". It was first published as a book on 14 November 1883, by Cassell & Co.


An old sailor named Billy Bones comes to lodge in the rural Admiral Benbow Inn on the Bristol Channel, in England. He tells the innkeeper's son, Jim Hawkins, to keep a lookout for "a one-legged seafaring man". A former shipmate, Black Dog, confronts Bones and engages in a violent fight with him. After Black Dog is run off, a blind beggar named Pew visits to give Bones "the black spot" as a summons to share a map leading to buried treasure. Shortly thereafter, Bones suffers a stroke and dies. Pew and his accomplices attack the inn, but Jim and his mother save themselves while taking some money and a mysterious packet from Bones's sea chest. Pew is then trampled to death by excise officers. Inside the packet, Jim and his mother find a map of an island on which the infamous pirate Captain Flint hid his treasure. Jim shows the map to the local physician Dr. Livesey and the squire John Trelawney, and they decide to make an expedition to the island, with Jim serving as a cabin boy. They set sail on Trelawney's schooner, the Hispaniola, under Captain Smollett. Much of the crew, as it is later revealed, are pirates who served under Captain Flint, most notable of which is the ship's one-legged cook Long John Silver. Jim, sitting in an apple barrel, overhears the conspirators' plan to mutiny after the salvage of the treasure and to assassinate the captain and the loyal men.

Arriving off the coast of the island, Jim joins the shore party and begins to explore the island. He meets a marooned pirate named Ben Gunn, who was also a former member of Flint's crew. The situation comes to a head after the mutineers arm themselves, and Smollett's men take refuge in an abandoned stockade. During an attack on the stockade, Jim finds his way there and re-joins the crew. Jim manages to make his way to the Hispaniola and cuts the ship's anchorage, allowing the ship to drift along the ebb tide. Jim boards the Hispaniola and encounters Israel Hands, who was severely injured in a dispute with one of his companions. Hands helps Jim beach the schooner in the northern bay, but then attempts to kill Jim with a knife. Jim escapes, climbs into the shrouds of the ship and shoots his pursuer.

Jim goes back ashore and returns to the stockade, where he is horrified to find only Silver and the pirates. Silver prevents Jim's immediate death and tells Jim that when everyone found the ship was gone, the captain's party agreed to a treaty whereby they gave up the stockade and the map. In the morning, the doctor arrives to treat the wounded and sick pirates and tells Silver to look out for trouble when they find the site of the treasure. After he leaves, Silver and the others set out with the map, taking Jim along as hostage. They encounter a skeleton, arms oriented toward the treasure, which unnerves the party. Eventually, they find the treasure cache empty. The pirates nearly charge at Silver and Jim, but shots are fired by the ship's command along with Gunn, from ambush. Livesey explains that Gunn had already found the treasure and taken it to his cave. The expedition members load much of the treasure onto the ship and sail away. At their first port in Spanish America, where they will sign on more crew, Silver steals a bag of money and escapes. The rest sail back to Bristol and divide up the treasure. Jim says there is more left on the island, but he for one will not undertake another voyage to recover it.


Stevenson deliberately leaves the exact date of the novel obscure; Hawkins writing that he takes up his pen "in the year of grace 17." Stevenson's map of the eponymous Island includes the annotations Treasure Island 1 August 1750 J.F. and Given by above J.F. to Mr W. Bones Maste of ye Walrus Savannah this twenty July 1754 W B. Other dates mentioned include 1745, the date Dr. Livesey served as a soldier at Fontenoy and also a date appearing in Billy Bones' log.


Stevenson conceived the idea of Treasure Island (originally titled: The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys) from a map of an imaginary, romantic island idly drawn by Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne on a rainy day in Braemar, Scotland. Stevenson had just returned from his first stay in America, with memories of poverty, illness, and adventure (including his recent marriage), and a warm reconciliation between his parents had been established. Stevenson himself said in designing the idea of the story that, "it was to be a story for boys; no need of psychology or fine writing; and I had a boy at hand to be a touchstone. Women were excluded and then I had an idea for Long John Silver from which I promised myself funds of entertainment; to take an admired friend of mine, to deprive him of all his finer qualities and higher graces of temperament, and to leave him with nothing but his strength, his courage, his quickness, and his magnificent geniality, and to try to express these in terms of the culture of a raw tarpaulin".

Completing 15 chapters in as many days, Stevenson was interrupted by illness and, after leaving Scotland, continued working on the first draft outside London. While there, his father provided additional impetus, as the two discussed points of the tale, and Stevenson's father was the one who suggested the scene of Jim in the apple barrel and the name of Walrus for Captain Flint's ship.

Two general types of sea novels were popular during the 19th century: the navy yarn, which places a capable officer in adventurous situations amid realistic settings and historical events; and the desert island romance, which features shipwrecked or marooned characters confronted by treasure-seeking pirates or angry natives. Around 1815, the latter genre became one of the most popular fictional styles in Great Britain, perhaps because of the philosophical interest in Rousseau and Chateaubriand's "noble savage". Treasure Island was a climax of this development. The growth of the desert island genre can be traced back to 1719 when Daniel Defoe's legendary Robinson Crusoe was published. A century later, novels such as S. H. Burney's The Shipwreck (1816), and Sir Walter Scott's The Pirate (1822) continued to expand upon the strong influence of Defoe's classic. However, other authors, in the mid 19th-century, continued this work, including James Fenimore Cooper's The Pilot (1823). During the same period, Edgar Allan Poe wrote, "MS Found in a Bottle" (1833) and the intriguing tale of buried treasure, "The Gold-Bug" (1843). All of these works influenced Stevenson's end product.

However, specifically, Stevenson consciously borrowed material from previous authors. In a July 1884 letter to Sidney Colvin, he writes "Treasure Island came out of Kingsley's At Last, where i got the Dead Man's Chestand that was the seedand out of the great Captain Johnson's History of the Notorious Pirates". Stevenson also admits that he took the idea of Captain Flint's pointing skeleton from Poe's The Gold-Bug and he constructed Billy Bones' history from the "Money-Diggers" section ("Golden Dreams" in particular ) of Tales of a Traveller by Washington Irving, one of his favorite writers.

One month after he conceived of The Sea Cook, chapters began to appear in the pages of Young Folks magazine. Eventually, the entire novel ran in 17 weekly instalments from October 1, 1881, through January 28, 1882. Later the book was republished as the novel Treasure Island and the book proved to be Stevenson's first financial and critical success. William Gladstone (18091898) the zealous Liberal politician who served four terms as British prime minister between 1868 and 1894, was one of the book's biggest fans.

Original manuscripts

Half of Stevenson's original manuscripts are lost, including those of Treasure Island, The Black Arrow, and The Master of Ballantrae. Stevenson's heirs sold Stevenson's papers during World War I; many of Stevenson's documents were auctioned off in 1918.



  • Jim Hawkins: The first-person point of view, of almost the entire novel. Jim is the son of an innkeeper near Bristol, England, and is probably in his mid teens. He is eager and enthusiastic to go to sea and hunt for treasure. He is a modest narrator, never boasting of the remarkable courage and heroism he consistently displays. Jim is often impulsive and impetuous, but he exhibits increasing sensitivity and wisdom as the journey progresses.
  • Long John Silver: The cook on the voyage to Treasure Island. Silver is the secret ringleader of the pirate band. His physical and emotional strength are impressive. Silver is deceitful and disloyal, greedy and visceral, and does not care about human relations. Yet he is always kind toward Jim and genuinely fond of the boy. Silver is a powerful mixture of charisma and self-destructiveness, individualism and recklessness. The one-legged Silver was based in part on Stevenson's friend and mentor William Ernest Henley.
  • Dr. David Livesey: The local doctor and magistrate. Dr. Livesey is wise and practical, and Jim respects but is not inspired by him. Livesey narrates a few chapters of the novel. Some years previously in 1745, he had participated in the Battle of Fontenoy, during which he was wounded in action. Livesey exhibits common sense and rational thought while on the island. He is fair-minded, magnanimously agreeing to treat the pirates with just as much care as his own wounded men. As his name suggests, Livesey represents the steady, modest virtues of everyday life rather than fantasy, dream, or adventure.
  • Captain Alexander Smollett: The captain of the voyage to Treasure Island. Captain Smollett is savvy and is rightly suspicious of the crew Trelawney has hired. Smollett is a real professional, taking his job seriously and displaying significant skill as a negotiator. Like Livesey, Smollett is too competent and reliable to be an inspirational figure for Jim's teenage mind. Smollett believes in rules and does not like Jim's disobedience but later in the novel states that he and Jim shouldn't go to sea together again as Jim was too much of the born favorite for him.
  • Squire John Trelawney: A local wealthy landowner; his name suggests he has Cornish origins (a traditional Cornish rhyme states "By Tre, Pol and Pen, Ye shall know all Cornishmen"). Trelawney arranges the voyage to the island to find the treasure. Trelawney is excessively trustful, and is duped by Silver into hiring pirates as his crew.
  • Billy Bones: The old seaman who resides at Jim's parents' inn. Billy, who used to be Flint's first mate, is surly and rude. He hires Jim to be on the lookout for a one-legged man, thus involving the young Jim in the pirate life. Billy's sea chest and treasure map set the whole adventure in motion. His gruff refusal to pay his inn bills symbolizes the pirates' general opposition to law, order, and civilisation. His illness and his fondness for rum symbolise the weak and self-destructive aspects of the pirate lifestyle. He dies of a stroke as a result of drinking too much rum.
  • Benjamin "Ben" Gunn: A former member of Flint's crew who became half insane after being marooned for three years on Treasure Island, having convinced another ship's crew that he was capable of finding Flint's treasure. Helps Jim by giving him the location of his homemade boat and kills two of the mutineers. After Dr. Livesey gives him what he most craves (cheese), Gunn reveals that he has found the treasure. In Spanish America, he lets Silver escape, and in England spends his share of the treasure ( 1,000) in 19 days, becoming a beggar until he becomes keeper at a lodge and a church singer "on Sundays and holy days".
    • In the semi-official prequel story Porto Bello Gold by Arthur D. Howden Smith, Ben Gunn was the servant of captain Andrew "Rip-Rap" Murray, Flint's associate and the mastermind behind the capture of the treasure ship Santissima Trinidad from whence the buried treasure was taken. Murray described Ben Gunn as a "half-wit" whom he kept as servant specifically because he considered him intellectually incapable of treachery. After Flint's crew killed Murray and overpowered his crew, Ben Gunn went to serve Flint and fled the Walrus in Savannah after Flint's death.
    • According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, he was Nic Allardyce's servant and friend from back home.


  • Alan: A sailor who does not mutiny. He is killed by the mutineers for his loyalty and his dying scream is heard across the island.
  • Allardyce: One of the six members of Flint's Crew who, after burying the treasure and silver and building the blockhouse on Treasure Island, are all killed by Flint, who returns to his ship alone. Allardyce's body is lined up by Flint as a compass marker to the cache.
    • In Porto Bello Gold, one sailor on Flint's ship is named "Tom Allardyce". A lanky fellow with rather long, yellow hair, he is an antagonistic ringleader of sailors opposing Flint in at least two "fo'c'sle councils". Flint thinks they may present him with the Black Spot; he eventually challenges Allardyce to bring six friends and bury the treasure together.
    • According to The Adventures of Ben Gunn, his first name was Nic, he was surgeon on Flint's crew, and Ben Gunn was his servant and friend from back home.
  • Job Anderson: The ship's boatswain and one of the leaders of the mutiny. He participates in the storming of the blockhouse and is killed by Gray while attacking Jim. He is probably one of Flint's old pirate hands, though this is never stated. Along with Hands and Merry, he tipped a Black Spot on Silver and forced Silver to start the mutiny before the treasure was found.
  • Mr. Arrow: The first mate of the Hispaniola. He is an alcoholic and is useless as a first mate. He disappears before they get to the island and his position is filled by Job Anderson. (Silver had secretly given Mr. Arrow alcohol and he fell drunkenly overboard on a stormy night.) In his BBC adaptation of 1977, John Lucarotti gives him the first name 'Joshua'.
  • Black Dog: Formerly a member of Flint's pirate crew, later one of Pew's companions who visits the Admiral Benbow to confront Billy Bones. He is spotted by Jim in Silver's tavern and slips out to be chased by two of Silver's men (in order to maintain the ruse that Silver and his men are not associated with him). Two fingers are missing from his left hand.
  • Blind Pew: A vicious, deadly, and sinister blind beggar who served as a member of Flint's crew. Despite his blindness, he proves to be a dangerous fighter and can even be considered a ringleader amongst his fellow crewmen. He is the second messenger to approach Billy Bones and the one to deliver the Black Spot. He is trampled to death by the horses of revenue officers riding to assist Jim and his mother after the raid on their inn. Silver claims Pew spent his share of Flint's treasure at a rate of 1,200 per year, and that for two years until his accident at the "Admiral Benbow", he begged, stole, and murdered. Stevenson avoided predictability by making the two most fearsome characters a blind man and an amputee. In the play Admiral Guinea (1892), Stevenson gives him the full name "David Pew". Stevenson's novel Kidnapped (1886) also features a dangerous blind man.
    • In Porto Bello Gold it is Pew who fatally stabs captain Murray, working in concert with Long John Silver. From the context it seems that Silver means Pew when he addresses one man as "Ezra" just prior.
  • Mr. Dance: Chief revenue officer (titled: Supervisor) who ascends with his men upon the Admiral Benbow, driving out the pirates, and saving Jim Hawkins and his mother. He then takes Hawkins to see the squire and the doctor.
  • Dogger: One of Mr. Dance's associates, who doubles Hawkins on his horse to the squire's house.
  • Captain J. Flint: The pirate captain of the Walrus. After robbing and looting towns and ships among the Spanish Main, in August 1750, he took six of his own crew onto Treasure Island. After building a stockade and burying the bulk of his looted treasure, he killed all six men. In July 1754, he died at Savannah, Georgia, of cyanosis, caused by drinking too much rum. While dying, he gave his treasure map to Billy Bones. Long John Silver's parrot is named after Captain Flint. Several members of his crew figure in the story.
  • Abraham Gray: A ship's carpenter on the Hispaniola. He is almost incited to mutiny but remains loyal to the Squire's side when asked to do so by Captain Smollett. He saves Hawkins' life by killing Job Anderson during an attack on the stockade, and he helps shoot the mutineers at the rifled treasure cache. He later escapes the island together with Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Long John Silver, and Ben Gunn. He spends his part of the treasure on his education, marries, and becomes part owner of a full-rigged ship.
  • Israel Hands: The ship's coxswain and Flint's old gunner. He tries to murder Jim Hawkins, who shoots him in self-defence.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins: The parents of Jim Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins dies shortly after the beginning of the story.
  • John Hunter: A manservant of Squire Trelawney. Dr. Livesey considers him to be the most steady and capable of Livesey's servants to have in a fight. He accompanies Trelawney to the island but is later knocked unconscious in an attack on the stockade. He dies of his injuries while unconscious.
  • John: A mutineer who is injured while trying to storm the blockhouse. He is later shown with a bandaged head and ends up being killed at the rifled treasure cache.
  • Dick Johnson: The youngest of the mutineers, who has a Bible. The pirates use one of its pages to make a Black Spot for Silver, only to have him predict bad luck on Dick for sacrilege. Soon becoming mortally ill with malaria, Dick ends up being marooned on the island after the deaths of George Merry and John.
  • Richard Joyce: One of the manservants of Squire Trelawney who accompany the squire to the island, a mild-mannered valet inexperienced in firearms. He is shot through the head and killed by a mutineer during an attack on the stockade.
  • George Merry: A mutinous and hostile member of Silver's crew, who disobeys orders and occasionally challenges Silver's authority. He launches the mutiny prematurely, forcing Long John to flee to the island with Jim as an improvised hostage. With Anderson and Hands, he forces Silver to attack the blockhouse instead of waiting for the treasure to be found. Later killed at the empty cache just as he is about to kill both Silver and Hawkins.
  • Tom Morgan: An ex-pirate from Flint's old crew. He ends up marooned on the island with Dick and one other mutineer.
  • O'Brien: A mutineer who survives the attack on the boathouse and escapes. He is later killed by Israel Hands in a drunken fight on the Hispaniola.
  • Tom Redruth: The gamekeeper of Squire Trelawney. He accompanies the Squire to the island but is shot and killed by the mutineers during an attack on the stockade.
  • Tom: An honest sailor who is killed by Silver for refusing to join the mutiny.

Among other minor characters whose names are not revealed are the four pirates who were killed in an attack on the stockade along with Job Anderson; the pirate killed by the honest men minus Jim Hawkins before the attack on the stockade; the pirate shot by Squire Trelawney when aiming at Israel Hands, who later died of his injuries; and the pirate marooned on the island along with Tom Morgan and Dick.

Historical allusions

Real pirates and piracy

Historian Luis Junco suggests that Treasure Island is in fact a marriage of the story of the murder of Captain George Glas on board the Earl of Sandwich in 1765 and the taking of the ship Walrus off the island of La Graciosa near Tenerife. The pirates of La Graciosa buried their treasure there before they were all killed during a bloody battle with the British navy. The treasure was never recovered.

In his book Pirates of the Carraigin, David Kelly deals with the piracy and murder of Captain Glas and others on board a ship travelling from Tenerife to London by the Ship's Cook and his gang. The perpetrators of this crime also buried the considerable treasure they had stolen but most of it was later recovered. They were all executed in Dublin in 1766. In his research, Kelly proved that Stevenson was a neighbour of the named victim in Edinburgh, and so was intimately aware of what was a scandal at the time, from an early age.

Stevenson and his family were even members of the church congregation set up by the victim's father. Although he never visited Ireland, Stevenson based at least two other books, Kidnapped and Catriona on real crimes that were perpetrated in Dublin. These were all reported in detail in The Gentleman's Magazine, published in Dublin and Edinburgh.

Other allusions to real piracy include:

  • Five real-life pirates mentioned are William Kidd (active 169699), Blackbeard (171618), Edward England (171720), Howell Davis (171819), and Bartholomew Roberts (171822). Kidd buried treasure on Gardiners Island, though the booty was recovered by authorities soon afterwards.
  • The name "Israel Hands" was taken from that of a real pirate in Blackbeard's crew, whom Blackbeard maimed (by shooting him in the knee) simply to ensure that his crew remained in terror of him. Allegedly, Hands was taken ashore to be treated for his injury and was not at Blackbeard's last fight (the incident is depicted in Tim Powers' novel On Stranger Tides), and this alone saved him from the gallows. Supposedly, he later became a beggar in England.
  • Silver refers to "three hundred and fifty thousand" pieces of eight at the "fishing up of the wrecked plate ships". This remark conflates two related events: first, the salvage of treasure from the 1715 Treasure Fleet which was wrecked off the coast of Florida in a hurricane; second, the seizure of 350,000 salvaged pieces of eight the following year (out of several million) by privateer Henry Jennings. This event is mentioned in the introduction to Johnson's General History of the Pyrates.
  • Silver refers to a ship's surgeon from Roberts' crew who amputated his leg and was later hanged at Cape Coast Castle, a British fortification on the Gold Coast of Africa. The records of the trial of Roberts' men list Peter Scudamore as the chief surgeon of Roberts' ship Royal Fortune. Scudamore was found guilty of willingly serving with Roberts' pirates and various related criminal acts, as well as attempting to lead a rebellion to escape once he had been apprehended. He was, as Silver relates, hanged, in 1722.
  • Stevenson refers to the Viceroy of the Indies, a ship sailing from Goa, India (then a Portuguese colony), which was taken by Edward England off Malabar while John Silver was serving aboard England's ship the Cassandra. No such exploit of England's is known, nor any ship by the name of the Viceroy of the Indies. However, in April 1721, the captain of the Cassandra, John Taylor (originally England's second in command who had marooned him for being insufficiently ruthless), together with his pirate partner, Olivier Levasseur, captured the vessel Nostra Senhora do Cabo near Runion island in the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese galleon was returning from Goa to Lisbon with the Conde da Ericeira, the recently retired Viceroy of Portuguese India, aboard. The viceroy had much of his treasure with him, making this capture one of the richest pirate hauls ever. This is possibly the event that Stevenson referred to, though his (or Silver's) memory of the event seems to be slightly confused. The Cassandra was last heard of in 1723 at Portobelo, Panama, a place that also briefly figures in Treasure Island as "Portobello".
  • The preceding two references are inconsistent, as the Cassandra (and presumably Silver) was in the Indian Ocean during the time that Scudamore was surgeon on board the Royal Fortune, in the Gulf of Guinea.

Other allusions

  • 1689: A pirate whistles "Lillibullero".
  • 1702: The Admiral Benbow Inn where Jim and his mother live is named after the real life Admiral John Benbow (16531702).
  • 1733: Foundation of Savannah, Georgia where Captain Flint died in 1754.
  • 1745: Doctor Livesey was at the Battle of Fontenoy (1745).
  • 1747: Squire Trelawney and Long John Silver both mention "Admiral Hawke", i.e. Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke (170581), promoted to rear admiral in 1747.
  • 1749: The novel refers to the Bow Street Runners (1749).
  • Treasure Island was in part inspired by R. M. Ballantyne's The Coral Island, which Stevenson admired for its "better qualities." Stevenson alludes to Ballantyne in the epigraph at the beginning of Treasure Island, "To the Hesitating Purchaser", "...If studious youth no longer crave, His ancient appetites forgot, Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave, Or Cooper of the wood and wave..."

Possible allusions


  • Squire Trelawney may have been named for Edward Trelawney, Governor of Jamaica 173852.
  • Dr. Livesey may have been named for Joseph Livesey (17941884), a famous 19th-century temperance advocate, founder of the tee-total "Preston Pledge". In the novel, Dr. Livesey warns the drunkard Billy Bones that "the name of rum for you is death."

Treasure Island

Various claims have been made that one island or another inspired Treasure Island:

  • Isla de Pinos near Cuba, which served as a supply base for pirates for about 300 years, is believed to have inspired Treasure Island.
  • Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands was supposedly mentioned to Stevenson by a sailor uncle, and also possesses a "Spyglass Hill" like the fictional Treasure Island.
  • Cocos Island off Costa Rica has many similarities with the fictional treasure island. British trader Captain William Thompson buried the stolen treasury of Peru there in 1820; an original inventory showed 113 gold religious statues (one a life-sized Virgin Mary), 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jeweled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid-gold crowns, 150 chalices, and hundreds of gold and silver bars. The real treasure has never been found, despite more than 300 expeditions to the island. Stevenson mentions the buried treasure and Captain Thompson in an 1881 letter to W.E. Henley, where he also provides the earliest known title for the book: "The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: a Story for Boys".
  • Dead Chest Island, a barren rock in the British Virgin Islands, which Stevenson found mentioned in Charles Kingsley's At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies, and which he said "was the seed" for the phrase "Dead Man's Chest".
  • Small pond in Queen Street Gardens in Edinburgh, said to have been visible from Stevenson's bedroom window in Heriot Row.
  • The Napa Valley, California, where Stevenson spent his honeymoon in 1880, as narrated in his The Silverado Squatters (1883).
  • Osborn Island (now Nienstedt Island) in the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey. Stevenson supposedly visited there in May 1888 (five years after writing Treasure Island) and christened it "Treasure Island"
  • Fidra in the Firth of Forth, visible from North Berwick where Stevenson had spent many childhood holidays.
  • Unst, one of the Shetland Islands, to which the map of Treasure Island bears a very vague resemblance.
  • R. F. Delderfield, in The Adventures of Ben Gunn, suggests that its real name is Kidd's Island, and identifies it as an outlying island of the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands, south-south-west of Tobago (pp.119120).

Other places

  • The Llandoger Trow in Bristol is claimed to be the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow Inn, though the inn is described in the book as being in a rural area and it is necessary to travel to Bristol. There is an Admiral Benbow Inn in Penzance, Cornwall. Stevenson visited Cornwall and Penzance between 7 and 16 August 1877 and this may have inspired him to feature the Inn in Treasure Island.
  • The Hole in the Wall, in Bristol, is claimed to be the Spyglass Tavern.
  • The Pirate's House in Savannah, Georgia is where Captain Flint is claimed to have spent his last days, and his ghost is claimed to haunt the property.

Sequels, prequels, and worldbuilding


  • Porto Bello Gold (1924), a prequel by A. D. Howden Smith that was written with explicit permission from Stevenson's executor, tells the origin of the buried treasure and recasts many of Stevenson's pirates in their younger years, giving the hidden treasure some Jacobite antecedents not mentioned in the original.
  • Back to Treasure Island (1935) is a sequel by H. A. Calahan, the introduction of which argues that Robert Louis Stevenson wanted to write a continuation of the story.
  • The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1956), by R. F. Delderfield, follows Ben Gunn from parson's son to pirate and is narrated by Jim Hawkins in Gunn's words.
  • Flint's Island (1972), a sequel by Leonard Wibberley, who notes in the introduction that it had long been a dream of his to do so.
  • Jim Hawkins and the Curse of Treasure Island (2001) is a sequel by Frank Delaney under the pseudonym "Francis Bryan".
  • Before (2001) is a prequel by Michael Kernan, published in the Netherlands as Vr Schateiland.
  • Sept Pirates (2007) is a comic-book sequel by Pascal Bertho and artist Tom McBurnie.
  • Long John Silver (2007) is a four-volume French graphic novel by Xavier Dorison and artist Mathieu Lauffray.
  • Flint & Silver (2008) is a prequel by John Drake, who followed with two additional books: Pieces of Eight (2009) and Skull and Bones (2010).
  • Return to Treasure Island (2010) is a sequel by John O'Melveny Woodswrote.
  • Treasure Island: The Untold Story (2011) is a true-life prequel by John Amrhein, Jr.
  • Silver: Return to Treasure Island (2012) is a sequel by former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom Andrew Motion.
  • Tread Carefully on the Sea (2014), by David K. Bryant, merges all the references to Captain Flint into a prequel covering the burial of the treasure.
  • Skulduggery (2014), a prequel written by Tony Robinson which features Ben Gunn attending a school for pirates and meeting junior counterparts of Blind Pew and Long John Silver. (ISBN9781781124086)

Film and television

A number of sequels have also been produced in film and television, including:

  • Return to Treasure Island (1954), a film by E. A. Dupont
  • Return To Treasure Island (1986), written by Ivor Dean, Robert S. Baker, and John Goldsmith, is a HTV television series that features Silver, Hawkins, and Gunn.
  • a 1992 animation version, and a 1996 and 1998 TV version
  • Black Sails (20142017), a prequel drama series by Robert Levine and Jonathan E. Steinberg, tells the story of Captain Flint and John Silver leading up to the Treasure Island story. The series is said to take place 20 years before the events of the book, in 1715; however this is actually 40 years before the dates given by Stevenson. The series consists of four seasons.


  • Admiral Guinea (publ. 1892), a play written by R. L. Stevenson with W. E. Henley, features the blind ex-pirate Pew as a character under the name of "David Pew".
  • In his collection Fables (1896), Stevenson wrote a vignette called "The Persons of the Tale", in which puppets Captain Smollet and Long John Silver discuss authorship.
  • In the novel Peter and Wendy (1911) by J. M. Barrie, it is said that Captain Hook is the only man ever feared by the Old Sea Cook (i.e., Long John Silver); Captain Flint and the Walrus are also referenced, among others.
  • In the film The Pagemaster (1994), the hero is confronted by Long John Silver, who surrenders and leaves after he is threatened with a sword
  • In the animated series Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates (based, in part, on the original Peter Pan stories), Captain Flint is referenced in the episode "Peter on Trial", as Captain Hook is stated as being the only man that a pirate named Barbecue is stated to fear, with the following statement being that, "even Flint feared Barbecue," referring to Captain Flint from Treasure Island. Barbecue is the crew's nickname for Long John Silver in the novel. In the same episode, Flint is referenced as being the pirate who supposedly conceived of the idea of pirates putting members of their crew or their prisoners as the case might be, on trial in an event called 'Captain's Mast'.
  • Treasure Island make an appearance in Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Treasure Island, the 2018 entry of the popular Doraemon movie series which is also a loose adaptation of the book.


There have been over 50 film and TV adaptations of Treasure Island.


Film adaptations include:

English Language Films

  • Treasure Island (1918) a silent film released by Fox Film Corporation and directed by Sidney Franklin
  • Treasure Island (1920) a silent film notably starring a female, Shirley Mason, as Jim Hawkins, along with Charles Ogle. Said to be a lost film, it was directed by Maurice Tourneur and released by Paramount Pictures.
  • Treasure Island (1934) the first sound film version, starring Jackie Cooper and Wallace Beery.
  • Treasure Island (1950) starring Bobby Driscoll and Robert Newton, notable for being the first version in colour and the Walt Disney Studios' first completely live-action film. A sequel to this version was made (but not by Disney) in 1954, entitled Long John Silver
  • Treasure Island (1972) starring Orson Welles, was produced by National General Pictures, and directed by John Hough, Andrew White, and John Salway.
  • Muppet Treasure Island (1996) a film produced by The Jim Henson Company and released by Walt Disney Pictures, starring the Muppets. The human performers include Tim Curry as Long John Silver, Billy Connolly as Billy Bones, Jennifer Saunders as Mrs. Bluberidge, and newcomer Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins.
  • Treasure Island (1999) starring Jack Palance as Long John Silver, Patrick Bergin as Billy Bones, Christopher Benjamin as Squire Trelawney and Kevin Zegers as Jim Hawkins.
  • Treasure Planet (2002) a reimaged adaptation from Walt Disney Animation Studios set in space, with Long John Silver as a cyborg and many of the original characters re-imagined as aliens and robots, except for Jim, his mother and his father, who are human.

Foreign Language Films

  • Treasure Island (1937) a loose Soviet adaptation starring Osip Abdulov and Nikolai Cherkasov, with a score by Nikita Bogoslovsky.
  • Between God, the Devil and a Winchester (1968), a spaghetti western version starring Richard Harrison and Gilbert Roland.
  • Treasure Island (1971) a Soviet (Lithuanian) film starring Boris Andreyev as Long John Silver, with a score by Alexei Rybnikov.
  • Animal Treasure Island (1971) an anime film directed by Hiroshi Ikeda, written by Takeshi Iijima and Hiroshi Ikeda, with story consultation by famous animator Hayao Miyazaki. This version replaces several of the human characters with animal counterparts.
  • The Treasure Planet (Planetata na sakrovishtata; 1982), a Bulgarian animated science fiction adaptation directed by Rumen Petkov.
  • Treasure Island (1982) a Soviet film in three parts; almost entirely faithful to the text of the novel. Featuring Oleg Borisov as Long John Silver.
  • L'le au trsor (1985) a Chilean-French adaptation starring Vic Tayback as Long John Silver.
  • Il Pianeta Del Tesoro Treasure Planet (1987; aka Treasure Island in Outer Space) Italian/German science-fiction adaptation starring Anthony Quinn as Long John Silver.
  • Treasure Island (1988) a critically acclaimed Soviet animation film in two parts, released in the United States (1992) as Return to Treasure Island.
  • L'le aux trsors (2007) a French-British-Hungarian film directed by Alain Berbrian, starring Grard Jugnot, Alice Taglioni, Vincent Rottiers and Jean-Paul Rouve.

TV films

  • Treasure Island (1990) a made-for-TV film, starring Charlton Heston, Christian Bale, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee and Pete Postlethwaite; written, produced and directed by Heston's son, Fraser C. Heston.
  • Treasure Island Pirate (1991)
  • Treasure Island (1995) a made-for-TV movie directed by Ken Russell and starring Hetty Baynes as Long Jane Silver.
  • Pirates of Treasure Island (2006) a direct-to-DVD film by The Asylum.


  • Treasure Island (1951) a seven-part BBC series starring Bernard Miles as Long John Silver.
  • The Adventures of Long John Silver (1955) 26 episodes shot at Pagewood Studios, Sydney, Australia filmed in full colour and starring Robert Newton.
  • "Mr. Magoo's Treasure Island" (1964) a two-part episode of the cartoon series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, was based on the novel, with Mr. Magoo in the role of Long John Silver.
  • Treasure Island (1966) a German-French co-production for German television station ZDF.
  • Treasure Island (1968) a BBC series of nine 25-minute episodes starring Peter Vaughan.
  • Treasure Island (1977) a BBC adaptation Starring Ashley Knight and Alfred Burke.
  • Treasure Island (Takarajima; 1978) a Japanese animated series adapted from the novel.
  • "Treasure Island" (1988) an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks starring Alvin as Jim Hawkins, Dave as Long John Silver, Simon as Dr. Livesey, Theodore as Squire Trelawney, and Brittany as Mrs. Hawkins.
  • Treasure Island (1990) for TNT, all star cast lead by Charlton Heston as Long John Silver and Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins; Other well-known stars include Oliver Reed (Billy Bones), Christopher Lee (Blind Pew), and Pete Postlethwaite (George Merry)
  • The Legends of Treasure Island (19931995) an animated series loosely based on the novel, with the characters as animals.
  • "Salty Dog" an episode of Wishbone in which the eponymous character explores the story in a children's adapted version.
  • Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins (1994) a TV movie special promoting the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.
  • Treasure Island (2012) two-part serial shown on Sky1 (United Kingdom) from 12 January.
  • Treasure Island (L'isola del tesoro; 2015) an Italian CGI animated series by Rai Fiction and Mondo TV. It mixes the original work with new characters and mythical elements such as voodoo.


There have been over 24 major stage adaptations made, though the number of minor adaptations remains countless. The story is also a popular plot and setting for a traditional pantomime wherein Mrs. Hawkins, Jim's mother is the dame.

  • In 1947, a production was mounted at the St. James's Theatre in London, starring Harry Welchman as Long John Silver and John Clark as Jim Hawkins.
  • For a time, in London, there was an annual production of the musical Treasure Island, based on a book by Bernard Miles and Josephine Wilson. The music was composed by Cyril Ornadel and the lyrics by Hal Shaper. The musical was performed at the Mermaid Theatre, originally under the direction of Bernard Miles, who played Long John Silver, a part he also played in a television version. Comedian Spike Milligan would often play Ben Gunn in these productions, and in 1981, Tom Baker played Long John Silver.
  • Pieces of Eight (1985), premiered in Edmonton, Alberta, is a musical adaptation by Jule Styne.
  • In 2007, an adaptation of Treasure Island by Ken Ludwig premiered at the Alley Theatre, Houston; played at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on London's West End in 2008; and won the AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation of the Year.
  • An adaptation in August 2009 was run by the Henegar Center for the Arts in downtown historic Melbourne, Florida.
  • Treasure Island: the Curse of the Pearl Necklace (201415), by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, is an alternative pantomime that included gay, lesbian, and trans characters, and played a sold-out run at London's Above The Stag Theatre.
  • In 2011, Tom Hewitt starred in B.H. Barry and Vernon Morris's stage adaptation of the novel, which officially opened 5 March at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn.
  • In July 2011, Bristol Old Vic staged a large-scale outdoor production of Treasure Island outside the theatre on King Street, Bristol directed by Sally Cookson, with music by Benji Bower.
  • From October 2013 to 2014, Mind the Gap Theatre Company, a leading UK theatre company in working with actors with learning disabilities, embarked on a national tour of Treasure Island, retold with a twist by Olivier award-winning writer Mike Kenny.
  • In 2013, YouthPlays published Long Joan Silver by Arthur M. Jolly, an adaptation in which all of the pirates are women.
  • A new version by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay was produced at London's Royal National Theatre from December 2014 to April 2015. In this version of the play, Jim is a girl. This production starred rising actor Patsy Ferran as Jim and Doctor Who alumnus Arthur Darvill as Silver.
  • As part of their 2017 Season, the Stratford Festival of Canada premiered a new adaptation of Treasure Island by Canadian playwright Nicolas Billon.
  • In 2018 the newly reopened Leicester Haymarket Theatre will stage a new version of Treasure Island, adapted by Sandi Toksvig, as their first Christmas show in 10 years.



  • Orson Welles broadcast a radio adaptation via The Mercury Theatre on the Air in July 1938, with its setting being half in England and half on the Island. The broadcast, which omits "My Sea Adventure", included music by Bernard Herrmann.
  • William Redfield played Silver on the May 14, 1948 Your Playhouse of Favorites adaptation.
  • Ronald Colman hosted an adaptation of the novel on the April 27, 1948 broadcast of Favorite Story.
  • James Mason played Silver opposite Bobby Driscoll's "Jim Hawkins" on the Lux Radio Theatre's adaptation on January 29, 1951.
  • There have been two BBC Radio adaptations of Treasure Island, with Silver being played by Peter Jeffrey in 1989, and Jack Shepherd in 1995.
  • Author John le Carr performed an abridged reading of the novel in five parts as part of BBC Radio 4's Afternoon Reading.
  • Treasure Island 2020 (November 12, 2019- January 12, 2020) is a 10-part BYU Radio radio adaptation broadcast via The Apple Seed. The audio adventure places the main trio of kids in 2019 and turns it into a time-traveling adventure that involves both them going to the past to look for treasures and Long John Silver, Billy Bones, and others coming to the present through the time vortex. The series is now available as a free podcast.

Other audio recordings

  • Basil Rathbone starred as both The Narrator and Silver in a 1944 audio recording for Columbia Masterworks Records.
  • James Kenney played Jim Hawkins and Anthony Woodruff played Long John Silver in the Tale Spinners for Children audio adaptation of Treasure Island (United Artists Records, UAC 11013).
  • A 2013 Big Finish Productions audiobook adaptation of Treasure Island was written and directed by Barnaby Edwards and starred Tom Baker as Long John Silver, Nicholas Farrell as the Narrator, and Edward Holtom as Jim Hawkins.

Books and comics

  • Shin Takarajima (1947) a loose adaptation of Treasure Island by Sakai Shichima and Osamu Tezuka
  • Classics Illustrated #64 (Oct. 1949, Gilberton) adapted by Ken Fitch and Alex A. Blum
  • "Walt Disney's Treasure Island", Four Color #624 (April 1955, Dell Comics) adapted by John Ushler from Disney's 1950 film adaptation
  • "La isla del tesoro", Joyas Literarias Juveniles #2 (1970, Editorial Bruguera) adapted by Jos Antonio Vidal Sales and Alfonso Cern Nuez; translated and reprinted as "Treasure Island", King Classics #7 (1977, King Features)
  • Pendulum Illustrated Classics (1973, Pendulum Press) adapted by John Norwood Fago and Nardo Cruz
  • Marvel Classics Comics #15 (1976, Marvel Comics) adapted by Bill Mantlo and Dino Castrillo; re-issued by Fisher-Price in 1984
  • Godspeed (1993) a science-fictional novel by Charles Sheffield that recasts the search for pirate treasure as the search for lost faster-than-light drive technology.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island: The Graphic Novel (2005, Penguin Books) adapted by Tim Hamilton
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (2007, Capstone Publishers) adapted by Greg Rebis
  • Treasure Island #16, Marvel Illustrated (Aug. 2007Jan. 2008, Marvel Comics) adapted by Roy Thomas, Mario Gully, and Pat Davidson
  • L'le au trsor, de Robert Louis Stevenson (20072009, Delcourt) adapted by David Chauvel and Fred Simon; translated and reprinted as Papercutz Classics Illustrated Series #5 (2010, Papercutz)
  • Disney Treasure Island, Starring Mickey Mouse (Oct. 2018, Dark Horse Comics) adapted by Teresa Radice, Erin Brady (translation), and Stefano Turconi


  • The self-titled Ben Gunn Society album released in 2003 presents the story centred on the character of Ben Gunn, based primarily on Chapter XV, "Man of the Island", and other relevant parts of the book.
  • "Treasure Island" (1992) is a song by Running Wild, from their Pile of Skulls album, that tells the novel's story.
  • Scottish glam rock artists The Sensational Alex Harvey Band paid tribute to the book with their 1974 song "The Tomahawk Kid." The song names many of Treasure Island's characters in its lyrics, and was often dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson in live performance.
  • "I'm Still Here (Jim's Theme)" and "Always Know Where You Are" are songs performed by Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik for Disney's animated retelling.
  • The Cursed Island (2014) is an album by Skull & Bones that is based on Treasure Island.
  • Introduction to the novel Treasure Island, the poem "To the hesitating purchaser" ("If sailor tales..."), was set to music (for piano and baritone) by the Lithuanian composer Giedrius Alkauskas and released on the album Enchanted Time in 2014.

Video games

  • A graphical adventure computer game based loosely on the novel was written by Greg Duddle, published by Mr. Micro (and often rebranded by Commodore) on the Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. In the game, the player takes the part of Jim Hawkins travelling around the island dispatching pirates with cutlasses before getting the treasure and being chased back to the ship by Long John Silver.
  • Treasure Island (1985) is an adventure game based upon the novel published by Windham Classics.
  • La Isla del Tesoro de R. L. Stevenson (1999) is a point-and-click adventure game based upon the novel developed, edited, and published by Barcelona Multimedia.
  • Monkey Island, a LucasArts adventure game, is partly based on Treasure Island, lending many of its plot points and characters and using many humorous references to the book.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon is one of the various video games released by Disney based on their animated film Treasure Planet.
  • Treasure Island (2010) is a hidden objects game launched by French publisher Anuman Interactive.
  • Captain Silver is an arcade game that follows its protagonist, Jim Aykroyd, in his quest to find Captain Silver's hidden treasure, for which he must battle an undead Captain Silver in order to find.

References in popular culture

  • The Strong Winds trilogy of children's adventures by Julia Jones draws freely from events and names in Treasure Island.
  • In the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, the Blacketts' Uncle Jim has the nickname of Captain Flint and a parrot.
  • In Blade Runner (1982), a deleted scene shows the character of Holden reading Stevenson's novel whilst recovering from an injury.
  • In The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Treasure Island is one of the books Andy procures for the prison library.
  • Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan (2000) is a parody by Spike Milligan
  • At the beginning of a fifth-season episode of Arthur titled "You Are Arthur" (2000), the titular character is seen reading Treasure Island.
  • In an episode of Survivor: Heroes vs Villains, titled "Jumping Ship" (2010), the castaways Amanda, Colby and Danielle win an overnight trip to the former home of Robert Louis Stevenson and a screening of the 1934 version of Treasure Island.
  • In The Way Back (2010), one of the prisoners in the Russian gulag briefly narrates some of Treasure Island to his fellow inmates. He mentions the characters Jim and Long John Silver.
  • On 13 November 2010, Google commemorated the 160th anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson's birth by featuring a Google Doodle based on Treasure Island and his other works.
  • In the teen fiction novel One for Sorrow (2015, Fledgling Press) by Philip Caveney, the main character, Tom Afflick, is reading Treasure Island which serves as the catalyst for his adventure.
  • In Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Rick Deckard makes a continued allusion to Treasure Island upon first meeting the protagonist; in the scene, he explicitly references Ben Gunn's craving for cheese.
  • In the finale of season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale (2019), Commander Lawrence reads an excerpt of Treasure Island to a group of runaway children.



  • Barker-Benfield, Simon (2014). The Annotated Treasure Island. ISBN978-1-937075-01-9
  • Cordingly, David (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. ISBN0-679-42560-8.
  • Letley, Emma, ed. (1998). Treasure Island (Oxford World's Classics). ISBN0-19-283380-4.
  • Pietsch, Roland (2010). The Real Jim Hawkins: Ships' Boys in the Georgian Navy. ISBN978-1-84832-036-9.
  • Reed, Thomas L. (2006). The Transforming Draught: Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Victorian Alcohol Debate. ISBN0-7864-2648-9.
  • Watson, Harold (1969). Coasts of Treasure Island: A Study of the Backgrounds and Sources for Robert Louis Stevenson's Romance of the Sea. ISBN0-8111-0282-3.

External links

  • Treasure Island at Project Gutenberg
  • Treasure Island, scanned and illustrated books at Internet Archive. Notable editions include:
    • Treasure Island, 1911 Scribner's, illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. See also alternate edition (better quality scan, some images missing).
    • Treasure Island, 1915 Harpers, illustrated by Louis Rhead.
    • Treasure Island, 1912 Scribner's "Biographical Edition", includes essays by Mr and Mrs Stevenson.
    • Treasure Island, 1911 Ginn and Company, lengthy introduction and notes by Frank Wilson Cheney Hersey (Harvard University).
  • Treasure Island, with an introduction and notes by Franklin T Baker (Columbia University, 1909). Fully annotated online.
  • Treasure Island public domain audiobook at LibriVox
  • Treasure Island Full text and audio website.
  • Treasure Island, A. L. Burt Company, 1890.
  • Treasure Island on The Mercury Theater on the Air: July 18, 1938
  • Basil Rathbone stars in Treasure Island: Columbia Masterworks, 1944
  • Treasure Island on Lux Radio Theater: January 29, 1951
  • Download Treasure Island on Tale Spinners for Children
  • The 1989 BBC Radio Treasure Island on
  • Treasure Island Public video panorama room on

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