That’s what happened one day in September 1887, when Mark Twain took the train from his Connecticut home to New York to meet Robert Louis Stevenson, the popular writer of Treasure Island.
“The Scottish-born Stevenson was staying near the square at a hotel on Tenth Street and University Place,” writes Emily Kies Folpe in the wonderful It Happened in Washington Square.
Stevenson, suffering from tuberculosis, was passing through the city on his way to an upstate sanitarium.
“The two famous writers strolled down to the park and, following Stevenson’s doctor’s orders to take in the sun every day, settled down on a sunny bench to enjoy a good talk.”
So what did they discuss? According to the website of the Hotel Albert (now a co-op), where Stevenson likely stayed on 10th Street:
“The two men settled comfortably into a sunny part of the northwest corner of the park and spent the next five hours telling stories to one another, ‘regardless of wives, lunch and doctors, from 10 a.m….until 3 in the afternoon.’”
Twain moved to the Village in 1900 and spend the rest of his life as a New Yorker. Stevenson died at 44, seven years after his park meetup with Twain.