Saturday, 3 November 2018


Robert Louis Stevenson born November 13th 1850

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh and was an only child. His father Thomas was from a family of engineers who built most of the deep-sea lighthouses around the coast of Scotland. His mother Margaret Isabella Balfour's family were mostly lawyers and church ministers.

He was a sickly child, prone to constant coughs and fevers which confined him to bed. Because of this he had a limited formal education and was taught at home mostly by his nanny. Stories from the Old Testament and Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress fired the imagination of the boy created dreams of becoming a writer.

In 1867, Stevenson entered Edinburgh University  where it was understood hat he would become a civil engineer and join the family's lighthouse building company. When he confided his literary ambitions to his father they settled on a compromise. He would study law so that if he had no success as a writer he would have a profession to fall back on.

On the 19th May 1880 Robert Louis married an American woman, Fanny Osbourne, who had two children by a previous marriage. They spent the following nine weeks in the Napa Valley. They returned to England and 1880 to 1887 marked a time of great literary achievement but also ill health for him.

His first novel, Treasure Island was published in 1883, followed by A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Kidnapped (1886). His work was hugely popular and received great critical acclaim.

Robert Louis Stevenson died at the age of only 44 on the 3rd of December 1894.

Favourite RLS quotes:

  • Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. 
  • To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
  • Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.
  • That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.


William Blitz said...
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Penny Dolan said...

RLS had a most amazing life and ended up living on an island in the South Seas. Thank you for reminding me about him and his writing, Sharon.

Sharon Tregenza said...

It was interesting research, Penny. I enjoyed it.

Stroppy Author said...

And he wrote Jekyll and Hyde in three days, fuelled by cocaine. His wife told him he had missed the point and he threw the MS in the fire. He wrote it again in another three days. His publisher was supposed to bring it out for Christmas - but publishing was ever thus - screwed up and it came out in January. It was the turning point in his fortunes, solving their money worries. It was also widely pirated, including in illegal translations. Again, publishing was ever thus... :-)