Manuscript transcription: volunteer helpers
Elaine will be familiar to many as the former curator of the Edinburgh Writers’ Museum, battling gallantly with the city corporation’s apparent indifference to a unique institution. She has recently been transcribing “On the Choice of a Profession”. She writes about her involvement in EdRLS:
“Like Stevenson, I was born and raised in Edinburgh, attending both school and university (MA Hons, Scottish Historical Studies, 1983, Edinburgh University) here. Unlike him – although I have travelled widely in North America and Europe (including Russia) – I have always returned home to Auld Reekie where I live with my husband and two children.
I was always aware of Stevenson’s influence as a writer, having read Child’s Garden, Kidnapped and Treasure Island, but I only became more immersed in his life and writings when I became responsible for the collections of The Writers’ Museum as a curator with the City of Edinburgh Museums Service. For over 20 years, Stevenson was a daily part of my life – while I received many enquiries relating to Burns, Scott and other Scottish writers, by far the most had a Stevenson connection. These came from people of all walks of life and from all over the world. A very interesting and rewarding occupation!
Due to family commitments, I left the Writers’ Museum at the end of 2008 but was keen to maintain my involvement with a man who had been part of my life for so long (my husband sees him as a serious rival!!). I am still a committee member of the RLS Club (and have been for over 20 years), and the opportunity to help transcribe Stevenson’s work was one I couldn’t miss! However, even with a good knowledge of Stevenson’s handwriting (and the benefit of having studied palaeography while at university) some of his writing can present a challenge!!
A definitive edition of Stevenson’s many works is long overdue and I am privileged to be able to play a small part in its achievement.”