Written at Vailima
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Introduction by Mrs. R. L. Stevenson
Artist Catherine Kanner
John Sheller editor
Pacific Palisades, California: The Melville Press, 1999. Edition of 200.
5.5 x 9.25"; 42 unnumbered pages. Bound in brick red silk, blind stamped with a double orchid. In dust jacket with orchid illustration. Thai red endpapers with mango leaves. Letter press printed by Bonnie Thompson Norman of The Windowpane Press. Bembo type face printed on handmade Hiromi Sansui rice paper. Handbound by Allwyn O'Mara with French folded signatures, binding within each fold an interleaving paper to promote opacity. Signed and numbered by Kanner.
“Prayers Written at Vailima” was first published in England in 1904 with an introduction by Mrs. R. L. Stevenson.
The Melville Press: "The design of this edition from The Melville Press reflects the beauty and simplicity of R. L. Stevenson’s prayers. Catherine Kanner began her design with linoleum cut illustrations of Mrs. R.L. Stevenson’s introduction. These images carry the reader to the island of Vailima and up to the Stevenson home where the prayers were read by the family and their Samoan friends. Each of the prayers is accompanied by a picture which reflects Stevenson’s deep appreciation of his island home."
University of Utah Marriott Library Blog, Dec 03, 2018: “In 1889, Robert Louis Stevenson moved his family to Vailima in the South Sea island of Samoa. The Scottish novelist and poet was in failing health. His doctors hoped that a change in climate would help. Stevenson believed in the power of prayer and composed many of his own. He held evening prayer services in his home, attended by his family members and his Samoan servants. The Samoans had a strong tradition of closing each day with prayer and hymns.
“Stevenson lived for another four years, dying on December 3rd. In 1910, Fanny Stevenson had her husband’s prayers published as an ornate gift book, to which she added her own introduction. There is a morning prayer and two evening prayers, a prayer for time and a prayer for rain, a prayer for separation, a prayer for friends and a prayer for family, a prayer for Sunday, a prayer for self-blame and a prayer for self-forgetfulness, and a prayer for joy
“In this edition, both book and jacket have a delicate, handmade quality that reflects the subject matter of native prayers in a far corner of the world. Designed by Catherine Kanner, with her linoleum cuts used directly to print the many illustrations. … The binding design is a collaboration between the book’s designer and Allwyn O’Mara, the binder.”