The Admiral Benbow Inn in Treasure Island

Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts has taught undergraduate-level film studies for over 9 years. She has a PhD in Media, Art and Text from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA in film production from Marlboro College. She also has a certificate in teaching online from UMGC and non-profit marketing and fundraising from UC Davis.

This lesson explains the location and significance of the Admiral Benbow Inn in Robert Louis Stevenson's ''Treasure Island.'' We will learn about the Hawkins family and then take a look at several important scenes that take place at the Inn.

The Hawkins Family and the Admiral Benbow

The Admiral Benbow Inn is an important location in Part 1, Chapters 1-6 of Treasure Island. Chapter 1 is entitled: ''The Old Sea-dog at the 'Admiral Benbow.'' Long before he began his adventure with the pirates, before he discovered the map, and even before he met the mysterious Billy Bones, Jim Hawkins lived with his parents in the south of England in the Admiral Benbow Inn. The Admiral Benbow Inn is nestled on the outskirts of Kitt's Cove, on the coast of southwest England near the town of Bristol. It is named after the Admiral John Benbow who was something of a legend in 18th century England. Benbow was an admiral in the British army who became famous for the battles he waged against pirates on the high seas. He died in battle in Jamaica in 1702. Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins are its proprietors, along with their teenage son, Jim.

In the parlour of the house, they operate a bar and pub that served food and drink to guests and boarders.

Jim and his mother in front of the Inn.

Billy Bones Comes to Stay

The arrival of Billy Bones is prophetic for the Hawkins family in more ways than one. Mr. Hawkins had already fallen ill by the time Bones came to stay. Billy Bones is referred to as the Old Sea-Dog and holds the secret to finding Treasure Island. The remote location of the Admiral Benbow is ideal for Billy Bones' purposes. He's looking for a place to hide ''When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlour, and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present.''. The Hawkins family are not sure what to make of the seaman, but he's a paying guest, so they tolerate his presence.

Billy Bones, also called Captain, throws the Hawkins' lives topsy-turvy. During his stay at the Admiral Benbow Inn, he causes several memorable scenes. First, he hits heads with an old shipmate named Black Dog. They quarrel. Billy Bones flourishes his saber to run Black Dog off, and in the process takes a chunk out of the inn's signboard. Is this a 'sign' of something even more terrible to come? Not long after Billy Bones' outburst, Jim's father passes away.

Billy Bones chases after Black Dog

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