Robert Louis Stevenson

Born November 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was the son of an engineer. Robert studied engineering, himself, and then law at the University of Edinburgh, but he had a natural inclination towards literature. Soon, he became a serious writer and gave up engineering and law to write novels, essays, poems and works on travel. Robert also wrote music. He played several instruments.

Robert suffered from tuberculosis, although more recent views are that he suffered from either bronchiectasis or sarcoidosis. He traveled extensively in search of healthier climates. Some of his earliest works were descriptions of these travels.

After a canoe trip through Belgium and France, he wrote, An Inland Voyage (1878). Travels with a Donkey in the Cervantes (1879) is an account of his journey on foot through the mountains in southern France. He also traveled by immigrant ship to New York, then by train to California. By the time he arrived in California his health was so bad he was almost dead. The ranchers he met there nursed him back to health, but after a long winter he was at death's door again. Francis Osbourne, his soon to be bride came to help him recover, and they were married in 1880.

Francis, or Fanny, as he called her, was a divorcee with two children. They originally met while he was on the canoe trip in France. She was recovering from a disastrous marriage to a philandering ex-soldier from America's Civil War. She was born in Indianapolis, married at seventeen, and by age thirty five had had three children.

In 1875, one of her sons died and she finally left her husband, relocating from Nevada, where she had joined her husband, to Paris, so she and her daughter could study art. That is where she met Robert. He was so impressed with her, that he wrote an essay "On Falling in Love" for the Cornhill Magazine. They met again in 1877, and he spent much of the with her and her children in France. She and her children went back to America and settled in San Francisco. Robert followed a year later, against the advice of friends and not telling his family. This added to the ill feelings with his father. This is when he took the immigrant ship to New York and train to California, that almost killed him.

Having chosen another profession than his father, uncles and grandfather's who were engineers for generations, Robert had been estranged from his father, but, after his marriage, his wife, Fanny, helped him to repair that relationship. She also cared for his health, which was vacillating. Finally, after his father died, Robert took his mother, wife and her children to Samoa, where he settled, after extended stays in Hawaii, where he became good friends with King Kalakaua and his niece, Victoria.

Robert became involved in the politics of Samoa, writing letters and publishing essays to help expel corrupt and inept European officials. He was so beloved by the people of the island, that when he died at age forty-four, on December 3, 1894, they erected monuments to him. His home on the island is now a museum, with a pathway deliberately laid to his tomb.

As a celebrated son of Edinburgh, Scotland, there are monuments throughout the country. The Writer's Museum on the Royal Mile has devoted a room to him. There is another memorial in the West Princes Street Gardens below the Edinburgh Castle.

Robert Louis Stevenson was a well-loved and prolific writer, whose immortality is seen in his works. Generations have and will be able to hear his words and enjoy his mastery of the story.

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

"Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a novella by the author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. Stevenson conceived of the novella when he began studying the different aspects of man and how good and evil can play a part in our everyday lives. He decided to create a story where a character can split his good and bad sides like a split personality. The … [Read more...]

Treasure Island

"Treasure Island" was serialized in a children's magazine, Young Folks, between 1881 and 1882. It was titled, "Treasure Island, or Mutiny of the Hispaniola". The story was written under the pseudonym, Captain George North. Then it was published in book form in 1883. The story is about a young boy, so it was written as an adventure story for boys. A story of pirates and treasure. A … [Read more...]