The Wrong Box
by Robert Louis Stevenson
and Lloyd Osbourne (Stevenson's stepson)
publishing date 1889
When a large sum of money is set to go to one of the two last survivors of a tontine, their offspring take a decided interest.
It came to my attention that some readers encountered difficulty keeping track of the Who's Who of The Wrong Box
. What follows is a kind of registry of characters and their identities in the novel. There may be some slight spoilers, but face it: you are going to read it several times anyway.
By the way, when Rudyard Kipling was 20 years old, he wrote in a letter to a friend, "I have got R. L. Stevenson's In the Wrong Box and laughed over it dementedly when I read it." Dementedly!
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Joseph Finsbury, age 71, one of the surviving tontine brothers.
Masterman Finsbury, age 73, one of the surviving tontine brothers.
Morris Finsbury, nephew of the brothers, orphan ward of Joseph Finsbury.
Robert Vance, a nom de guerre
John Finsbury, nephew of the brothers, orphan ward of Joseph Finsbury.
George Vance, or The Great Vance, a nom de guerre
Miss Julia Hazeltine, an unrelated orphan ward of Joseph Finsbury.
Michael Finsbury, solicitor, son of Masterman Finsbury.
Mr. Brown, a nom de guerre
Mr. Dickson, a nom de guerre
Mr. Appleby, a nom de guerre
William Dent Pitman, art and music teacher who is the original intended recipient of the huge box.
Mr. Ezra Thomas, a nom de guerre
Gideon Forsyth, a young legal practitioner without much practice.
E.H.B., the nom de plume
of Forsyth when he wrote a yellowback detective novel in his student days.
Mr. Jimson: a nom de guerre
Edward Hugh Bloomfield, Forsyth's uncle, also known as "the Squirradical" and "Uncle Ned".
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Mr. Chandler: a carrier who gives Joseph Finsbury a ride away from the train wreck.
Mr. Watts: proprietor of a public house where Joseph Finsbury spends a night.
Mr. Wickham: client / friend of Michael Finsbury, and a force of chaos.
Messrs. Bell and Judkin: work at Joseph Finsbury's bank.
Mr Semitopolis: Italian art dealer / smuggler, a.k.a. Signor Ricardi.
Broadwood: the piano.
Count Turnow: a completely fictitious person invented by Michael Finsbury.
Teena: Michael Finsbury's Scottish housekeeper.
James Payn, Walter Besant: names of yellowback detective novel heroes.
Mr. Holtum: a former political adversary assaulted by Bloomfield.
Mr. Harker: a young carrier and novice at the pennywhistle.
"Colour Sergeant" Brand: con man / robber.
Mr. Moss: business agent of Michael Finsbury.
Uncle Tim: Pitman's Australian relative.
Guendolen, Harold, Otho: Pitman's children.
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Historical / Literary Persons Alluded to in the Book:
Lorenzo de Tonti: a Banker from Naples credited with inventing the tontine.
Mr. Gladstone: William Ewart Gladstone was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time of the story.
Duke of Wellington: Arthur Wellesley (d. 1852) defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Lord Tennyson: Poet Laureate of Great Britain (d. 1892).
Sir Charles Warren: For the purposes of the novel, was head of the London Metropolitan Police from 1886 to 1888 (d. 1927).
Charoba: a princess of Egypt as depicted in the 1798 poem "Gebir" by Walter Savage Landor, "Past are three summers since she first beheld The ocean; all around the child await Some exclamation of amazement here. She coldly said, her long-lasht eyes abased, Is this the mighty ocean? is this all?"