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Stevenson’s Inspiration?

February 19th, 2010 by Peter

Stranger than fiction: the true story behind Kidnapped

A very interesting piece in the Guardian today about the true story that is, according to a new book, the inspiration behind Kidnapped and several other novels. I have often wondered where the inspiration for some of the works of great writers comes from and how they draw on elements of real life in their narratives. The true story is quite something, though the ending – like many true things – seemed to lack the justice we’d have liked to see for the protagonist. While he won his case in the courts it was post mortem and he didn’t benefit.  I can see the similarities between this and Kidnapped but I think it must be one of many things that joined together to form inspiration as the Appin murder is also a large part of the plot.

On another note, the story also reminds me in some ways of Son of Fury, a 1942 film starring Tyrone Power and the quite wonderful Gene Tierney. The question is was the film influenced by one of the novels or directly by the true story? It’s interesting to see how entirely different stories (such as Kidnapped and Son of Fury) can both use recognisable elements from one real story. I guess that is a testament to the variety of artistic endeavour that two very different stories can share the same root.

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