Jules Simoneau and Robert Louis Stevenson
Though the School’s namesake, the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, spent only a few months on the Monterey Peninsula in 1879, his experience here proved to be of lasting significance. Arriving weakened by illness and penniless, he relied on the kindness of strangers to regain his health. One of these people—Jules Simoneau—ran a saloon in downtown Monterey. Educated at the Sorbonne, Simoneau was a trained chef and gracious host, known for providing a warm, welcoming space for artists to gather, exchange ideas, and play chess. For those that could not afford to pay, he would allow them to paint on the cafe’s walls in exchange for food. When Stevenson was too weak to leave his room, Simoneau brought him special meals and the spiritual nourishment of his friendship.
Stevenson and Simoneau formed a deep bond, often discussing human affairs long into the night. When Stevenson left the Peninsula, he corresponded regularly with his friend until his death, sending him autographed copies of his novels inscribed with personal notes.
In Simoneau’s copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for example, Stevenson wrote, “It would be a stranger case still if ever Stevenson forgot his old friend Simoneau.” Stevenson’s inscription on Simoneau’s copy of New Arabian Nights reads, “What there are of my travels, I find nothing more to scribble about. Do not forget – RLS.” Simoneau, in his own hand, added, “He will not forget.” *
The Simoneau Society honors this lasting friendship between two kind and generous souls, who retained a deep connection despite their distance, and never forgot the importance of the time they had shared together. It recognizes those members of our community who appreciate the lasting and transformational impact of legacy gifts, and who choose to support the future of our students and the School.
* Source: Monterey Public Library