Tembinok' - Robert Louis Stevenson’s Account of Tembinok’

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Account of Tembinok’

Tembinok’ was immortalised by Robert Louis Stevenson's description of him in his book In the South Seas. Robert Louis Stevenson spent two months on Abemama in 1889. Stevenson described Tembinok’ as the "one great personage in the Gilberts … and the last tyrant”. Stevenson described the ambitions of Tembinok' as an embryonic "empire of the archipelago" and established his importance in the Gilbert Islands as "Tembinok' figures in the patriotic war-songs of the Gilberts like Napoleon in those of our grandfathers." ”

Stevenson describes Tembinok’, in years before Stevenson's visit, as attempting to extend his rule over a number of islands and atolls; he compelled Maiana to pay tribute, and seized Nonouti, before being driven out by a British warship and was forbidden from expanding his kingdom further. Stevenson does not date these events. At this time British navy ships served on the Australia Station, with ships of the Australia Squadron operated in the South Pacific.

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