A Penny Plain And Twopence Coloured by Robert Louis Stevenson

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"A Penny Plain And Twopence Colored"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Reminiscing on his youth, Stevenson says that much of the glamour of life as he experiences it as a man is due to his having been exposed to Skelt's juvenile drama in his childhood. As a boy he had often spent hours in his favorite bookshop trying to decide which of the fascinating titles to select, usually to the exasperation of the clerk in the shop. Much of the pleasure of possessing one of the plays was in coloring the illustrations with water colors. Stevenson always bought the plain edition for a penny in order to have that additional pleasure. He adds, ". . . nor can I quite forgive that child who, wilfully foregoing pleasure, stoops to 'twopence coloured.'" The final joy was in cutting out the illustrations and setting them up as scenery of the play. Paying homage to Skelt, Stevenson says: "The world was plain before I knew him, a poor penny world; but soon it was all coloured with romance." The two editions of the plays available to him as a boy, with the price of each, gives Stevenson the title of his essay:

"A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured."