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Stevenson, Robert Louis

1850-1894

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh's New Town into a family of engineers and lighthouse builders. Initially he studied engineering at Edinburgh University, then turned to law studies, before qualifying as an advocate. However he never practised, mainly due to the debilitating tuberculosis he suffered from all his life.
Convinced that writing was his vocation Robert started to produce travel writing and children's stories. The first of his fictional writing to be published was 'Treasure Island' which was serialised in 1882. In 1886 'Kidnapped' and 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' were international best sellers.
In the face of his chronic ill health he was advised to seek warmer climes. Having met his future wife, Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, in France in 1876, he followed her to her native California and they were eventually married in 1880. Thereafter, they lived in Switzerland, France, on the south coast of England and in Scotland, while Stevenson sought a place congenial to his health. Finally, after the death of his father in 1887, he felt free to travel further afield and having taken his family and his mother over to the USA finally settled in the Samoan island of Upolu in the Pacific. Here he continued to work but was eventually overcome by the constant companion he called 'bluidy Jack' - the spitting of blood caused by his affliction. Robert died and was buried on Upolu

Further Reading: Calder, J., Robert Louis Stevenson, (London, 1997), Daiches, D., Robert Louis Stevenson, (1947), Bell, I., Dreams of Exile, (1994), Stevenson''s complete works B.A. Booth and E. Mehew, (eds.), (1994-5)

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