Fairytale ending for Stevenson book row

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It has taken 120 years but Robert Louis Stevenson's wish to have all his fairytales and fables published together is finally to be granted.

The Edinburgh-born author of classic tales Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde spent the last years of his life on the Samoan island of Upolu, where he wrote the works which he specifically asked to be published as a set.

However, instead of complying with the writer's request, Stevenson's literary agent Sidney Colvin enraged the author by telling publisher Cassell's to print two of the fairy stories - The Bottle Imp and The Isle of Voices - in a volume alongside a naturalistic short story of a completely different type - The Beach of Fales.

Bill Gray, professor of literary history at Chichester University, has campaigned for six years to have Colvin's decision remedied and Edinburgh University Press has now agreed to publish a fresh edition of Stevenson's tales, 20 in total, called Fables and Fairytales, in 2013.

Mr Gray said: "Colvin, Stevenson's supposed friend back home, stitched him up. He decided they should be published together because he thought he knew what would make the most money.

"Stevenson wrote that 'on no account should these stories appear together' in his letter to Colvin, and he underlined the point. Colvin deliberately did exactly what he said he didn't want and then it was put down to communications problems."

In a letter to Colvin from Stevenson, dated December 3 1892, Stevenson wrote: "When I heard you and Cassell's had decided to print The Bottle Imp along with The Beach of Fales, I was too much disappointed to answer.

"The Bottle Imp was the pice de rsistance for my volume: Island Night's Entertainments."

Author Jeremy Hodges, whose book Lamplit, Vicious Fairy Land is being serialised on Edinburgh Napier University's Robert Louis Stevenson website, said: "Stevenson was planning this book called Island Night's Entertainments that was going to have a lot of these fairytales in it, but rather than wait for all of the fairytales, Colvin just went ahead and bunged in The Beach of Fales to get it up to length."

Although some of Stevenson's fables were published in 1896, Professor Gray's edition will be the first time they have all appeared together and in the order Stevenson wanted.

Edinburgh University received a grant of 155,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh to edit and republish all of Stevenson's literary work.

The entire collection will be published in 39 volumes, with the fairytales and fables set to make up volume 18. The full edition will take around ten years to publish, with more funding required after the three-year point.

Dr Penny Fielding, who is one of four general editors working on the international project to edit Stevenson's work, said: "In the 19th century fairytales were very popular as a genre, and it was important for Stevenson to collect all his works that were like fairytales under the same title.

"There's never been a project to look at all the various texts that Stevenson wrote and their different editions, until now.

"It will be the volume that Stevenson wanted, not the volume that Sidney Colvin wanted."