Originally designed as a story for boys, Stevenson's novel is narrated by the teenage Jim Hawkins, who outwits a gang of murderous pirates led by that unforgettable avatar of amorality, Long John Silver. But Treasure Island has also had a great appeal for adult readers and was admired by Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, and (reluctantly) Henry James. The story has the dreamlike quality of a fairy tale and has worked its way into the collective imagination of more than five generations of readers, gaining the power of myth. Although thoroughly British in setting and characters, Treasure Island, as John Seelye shows, has an American dimension, drawing on the author's experiences living in California, and is in no small debt to Washington Irving's ghost stories and James Fenimore Cooper's tales of adventure. This new Penguin Classics edition also includes Stevenson's own essay about the composition of Treasure Island, written just before his death.