video{ height:100%; width:80%; } video{ width:120% } height:140%
top of page
  • Writer's pictureChelsea Susan Bednar

The Novel vs. The Place: Is Treasure Island THE Treasure Island?

The places from our storybooks may exist in the land of dreams, worlds we can escape to through our minds-eye. But what if we told you that wasn’t necessarily true? You may have heard of a little story called Treasure Island: the classic, swash-buckling tale of pirate adventures through the lens of a once-kitchen boy, Jim Hawkins. The story itself is legendary, a beloved coming-of-age quest that engages audiences of all ages. A common question most people have after hearing Treasure Island's name is: “That's a real place?” Indeed, it is, and it's home to Sunset Inn & Cottages. The correlation between the book, the island, and {verdigreen} hotels runs deep, and only comes to show that when you start digging for treasure, you’re sure to find gold.

The Story

The tale begins at an Inn in 18th century England where a boy named Jim Hawkins meets Billy Bones, an old sea captain staying at the inn. After revealing the cursed black spot on his hand, the sea captain dies (per the predictions of the black spot) and Billy is intrigued. He and his mother open the captain’s sea chest, revealing a treasure map and other documents inside. The map’s discovery inspires an adventure unlike any other: an expedition across the seas in search of the infamous Captain Flint’s buried treasure.

The first edition of the classic book was released at the hight of popularity for oceanic expedition novels in the 19th century. The Era of Romanticism was abound with many creatives, writers, poets, and artists emerging all over. Author of ‘Treasure Island’ was Robert Louis Stevenson, a world famous writer who also published the ‘Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. As a writer of dark fantasy and adventure, Stevenson was inspired by the works of Romantic Poet Edgar Allen Poe, specifically influenced by 1833’s "MS Found in a Bottle” and 1843's "The Gold-Bug”. Sea-faring adventure stories had their way with the 18th and 19th century, the legacy continuing as one of the most popular settings for both nonfiction and fantasy to this day.

Publications & Pop Culture

We won’t deep dive into all the publications this novel has had, as the list would be long and arduous. Rather, we’ll point out that this story is the most popular of it’s genre to this day. Through the decades there have been many films surrounding the concept, from direct productions to spin-off tales. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Paramount released a production to MGM box offices. With a star studded cast including ‘The Last of the Mohican’s” Joseph Singleton, the film was expected to be one of the biggest hits of the season, surprisingly a major flop in theaters. Despite this failure, the tale lived on to see other productions made. Even if you haven't read the book itself, you've probably watched a variation of the tale in remakes like the 1996 film “A Muppets Treasure Island” or Walt Disney’s spin with 2002’s “Treasure Planet”. The plot of Treasure Island is said to have heavily influenced the hit “Pirates of the Caribbean”, referencing some of the same concepts and pirate lore.

Is Treasure Island THE Treasure Island?

The city of Treasure Island is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Southwest side of Florida. Overall the village spans 5.3 square miles (3.5 miles of that being water) and is only accessible by one bridge. Being neighbors to larger cities like St. Pete and Tampa actually comes to the island's advantage, as it allows the small beach town to maintain its chill vibes and open oceanfront views. Sunset Beach runs along the border of Treasure Island, displaying a vision of golden sunsets every evening to any visitors of its shores.

While the book is mainly fantasy, the tale set its roots in real historical places, even mentioning real-life pirates like William Kidd and Blackbeard. The location of Treasure Island is the true mystery of the novel, as the author never disclosed where the landmark behind the inspiration really was. Over the years historians have tried to crack the case, pinpointing the Isla de Pinos (near Cuba) as the real-life ‘treasure island’. For 300 years the Isla de Pinos was a well known supply base for pirates, and curiously lands directly underneath the location of Treasure Island on the map. There are scholarly debates that Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands was the inspiration behind the location, but the vision seems to have come from a collection of places.

The question you’ve all been waiting for: Is Treasure Island THE Treasure Island?

Long answer short, not exactly. Treasure Island was given its namesake after the classic book to boost property sales in the early 20th century. A popular practice among early settlers of the area was to bury chests of treasure, only to be “discovered" after the fact. This rouse was used in leading people to believe they may strike gold if they moved to the island. While the name and treasure unearthed was devised by the villagers, a little conspiracy thinking has posed some questions…

With the fact that Treasure Island is a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico directly above the location that’s most popularly theorized to be the real island, it could be the real thing. The Isla de Pinos was a busy and popular port island, so why would a pirate want to bury their treasure there? Wouldn’t it make more sense to bury the treasure a bit away from the pirate hotspot (but not too far away to have it be inaccessible by a day’s sailing time)? And why not make the treasure’s location easy to remember by marking the x directly above the pirate port on the map, hidden by a couple coves and safely tucked away in say, St. Johns Pass? Before the book was written, the Village of Treasure Island & Sunset Beach had yet to be named, so how could the author credit a real place with no name? Since historians have never pinpointed where the alleged island’s location is, who’s to say Treasure Island isn’t the real thing?

A Treasure Trove: The Connections with the Tale & {verdigreen} hotels

While researching this story, familiar names and locations kept popping up, all seeming to have some connection to the various properties of {verdigreen} hotels (not exclusively in Treasure Island). Treasure Island was given it's namesake based on the book, this much is true. But the novel’s seafaring adventures took place all over the coast of Florida surrounding Cuba, connecting the tale to Key West, where Marrero's Guest Mansion is located. Furthermore, Key West was a popular spot for the Golden Era of Hollywood - while the production of the story was not shot in Key West, it overlaps the time period. Star of the film, Joseph Singleton, had been a lead in the hit film ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, set in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. It felt like something to note since our three upstate properties reside in the Adirondacks, with the three bedroom apartment at Hotel Mountain Brook dedicated to preserving and supporting the knowledge of our nations first peoples & the Mohican Tribe. The works of Edgar Allen Poe was instrumental to Stevenson’s initial concept of Treasure Island - the very poet that The Raven Cottage is dedicated to. Lastly, it’s noted that the author changed the name of his novel from “The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys” to “Treasure Island” after visiting Osborn Island off the coast of New Jersey, about an hours drive south of Montclair, NJ, the central location of the office space for {verdigreen} hotels. It may seem a stretch to find connections between {verdigreen}, the classic story, and the inspiration behind it, but what's the point of treasure hunting if you aren’t connecting the dots?

Next time you visit us at Sunset Inn and Cottages, be sure to dig around for a little treasure - who know’s what you may discover. Thank you for reading.


Os comentários foram desativados.
bottom of page