IF NOBODY WRITES TO ME I SHALL DIE, warned Robert Louis Stevenson (185094) in an uncharacteristically overwrought letter to a friend in 1884. The threat wasnt quite idle, for the next day he almost didnot in a fit of epistolary loneliness, of course, but from a severe tubercular hemorrhage. And yet correspondence assumed for Stevenson, especially during the last years of his curtailed life, a singular importance. While this Scotsmans twenty-eight hundred letters hardly hold the record, I doubt that anyone has topped Stevenson for sheer relish of the medium. All the brisk élan of his novels and essays animates his letters, too. Better still, they make us acquainted, as nothing else can, with the complex, delightful, and rarest of qualitieswholly admirable character that was R.L.S., as it pleased Stevenson to sign himself.