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Robert Louis Stevenson - Biography

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish author. He was one of the world's most popular and most versatile of writers. He was born on November 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland. His full name was Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson. Stevenson was a very sickly child. He was constantly sick and in bed. Since he was in bed almost all the time, he made up a make-believe world, which he called, "the pleasant land of counterpane." In this world is where he got many ideas for his works. He loved the open air, the sea, adventure, and he loved to read. Stevenson entered Edinburgh University at the age of 17. His father wanted him to study his profession, engineering. Stevenson soon gave up engineering for law. However, he never practiced it. At the age of 25, Stevenson decided that his real love was for writing. At 26 years of age, Stevenson met Mrs. Fanny Osbourne, a married American art student who was studying in Paris. Fanny was 11 years older than Stevenson and had a son and a daughter. Stevenson fell in love with her, and in 1880, after Fanny's divorce, the two were married in Oakland, California.

Due to Stevenson's constant illness, which developed into tuberculosis, he traveled from place to place hoping to improve his health. He traveled to many different places in search of an environment with a climate where he could live and work. Stevenson and his family finally settled on the Samoan island of Upolu in 1890. He bought a large estate and built a large house that he called "Vailima" (Five Rivers). There, he was loved by the native Samoans who called him "Tusitala" (teller of tales).

On December 3, 1894, at the age of 44, Stevenson died of a stroke. The natives carried his body to the peak of Mount Vaea, where they buried him. His poem "Requiem" is inscribed on his gravestone as an epitaph:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live, and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
"Here he lies where he longed to be.
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."


Stevenson began his career by writing for the undergraduate Edinburgh University Magazine . He began publishing short stories and essays in the mid-1870's. His first and most famous novel is called, Treasure Island , and was published in 1883. Stevenson wrote many of his best books from a sickbed. Three of Stevenson's well known works include:The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , Kidnapped , and A Child's Garden of Verses . When Stevenson died, he left two novels unfinished: Weir of Hermiston and St. Ives (St. Ives was finished by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch). Stevenson's writings brought him great popularity during his lifetime. Henry James, a well known American novelist, once praised Stevenson as "the only man in England who can write a decent English sentence." The reading public has never lost its admiration for Stevenson. His sure handling of narrative pace, his strong sense of atmosphere and above all his masterly command of style give his novels and stories enduring vitality. The history of English literature records no braver story than the life and work of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Works of Robert Louis Stevenson & Year Published

An Inland Voyage 1878
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes 1879
Amateur Emigrant 1880
Virginibus Puerisque 1881
Familiar Studies of Men and Books 1882
New Arabian Nights 1882
Treasure Island 1883
The Silverado Squatters 1883
More New Arabian Nights 1885
A Child's Garden of Verses 1885
Prince Otto 1885
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1886
Kidnapped 1886
The Merry Men and Other Tales 1887
Markheim 1887
Underwoods 1887
Memories and Portraits 1887
The Wrong Box 1888
The Master of Ballantrae 1889
In the South Seas 1890
Ballads 1891
The Wrecker 1892
Across the Plains 1892
The Beach of Falsea 1892
The Ebb Tide 1893
Catriona 1893
David Balfour 1893
Island Nights' Entertainments 1893
Songs of Travel 1896
Thawn Janet unknown
The Sire de Maletroit's Door unknown
Weir of Hermistion unfinished
St. Ives unfinished / finished by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch