December 3, 2018 Book of the Week — Prayers Written at Vailima
“Deliver us from fear and favor; from mean hopes and cheap pleasures. Have mercy on each in his deficiency; let him not be cast down; support the stumbling on the way, and give at last rest to the weary.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
Prayers Written at Vailima
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Pacific Palisades, CA: The Melville Press, 1999
PR5488 P75 1999
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 text was composed using handset Bembo types and printed letterpress by Bonnie Thompson Norman of The Windowpane Press. The paper used is natural white Hiromi-Sansui paper in the 24 gsm weight, in French-folded signatures. The binding design is a collaboration between the book’s designer and Allwyn O’Mara, the binder.
Edition of two hundred numbered copies. Rare Books copy is no. 95, signed by the designer.