Robert Louis Stevenson

The Black Arrow - A Tale of the Two Roses

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The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson - is an 1888 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. It is both a historical adventure novel and a romance novel. It first appeared as a serial in 1883 with the subtitle "A Tale of Tunstall Forest" beginning in Young Folks; A Boys' and Girls' Paper of Instructive and Entertaining Literature, vol. XXII, no. 656 (Saturday, 30 June 1883) and ending in vol. XXIII, no. 672 (Saturday, 20 October 1883)-Stevenson had finished writing it by the end of summer.[3] It was printed under the pseudonym Captain George North.[1] He alludes to the time gap between the serialisation and the publication as one volume in 1888 in his preface "Critic [parodying Dickens's 'Cricket'] on the Hearth": "The tale was written years ago for a particular audience..." The Paston Letters were Stevenson's main literary source for The Black Arrow. The Black Arrow consists of 79,926 words. Plot introduction The Black Arrow tells the story of Richard (Dick) Shelton during the Wars of the Roses: how he becomes a knight, rescues his lady Joanna Sedley, and obtains justice for the murder of his father, Sir Harry Shelton. Outlaws in Tunstall Forest organised by Ellis Duckworth, whose weapon and calling card is a black arrow, cause Dick to suspect that his guardian Sir Daniel Brackley and his retainers are responsible for his father's murder. Dick's suspicions are enough to turn Sir Daniel against him, so he has no recourse but to escape from Sir Daniel and join the outlaws of the Black Arrow against him. This struggle sweeps him up into the greater conflict surrounding them all. Plot summary The novel is set in the reign of "old King Henry VI" (1422-1461, 1470-1471) and during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487). The story begins with the Tunstall Moat House alarm bell, rung to summon recruits for its absent lord Sir Daniel Brackley, to join the Battle of Risingham; at which the outlaw "fellowship" known as "the Black Arrow" begins to strike with its "four black arrows" for the "four black hearts" of Brackley and three of his retainers: Nicholas Appleyard, Bennet Hatch, and Sir Oliver Oates, the parson. The rhyme posted in explanation of this attack makes the protagonist Richard ('Dick') Shelton, ward of Sir Daniel, curious about the death of his father Sir Harry Shelton. Having been dispatched to Kettley, where Sir Daniel was quartered, and sent to Tunstall Moat House by return dispatch, he falls in with a fugitive, Joanna Sedley, disguised as a boy with the alias of John Matcham: an heiress kidnapped by Sir Daniel to obtain guardianship over her and to retain his control over Richard by marrying her to him.
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8 hours 38 minutes
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Edith Wharton
Hans Christian Andersen
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