Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish essayist, poet, and author of fiction and travel books, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. As a child, he suffered from tuberculosis and spent much of his time in bed composing stories before he could even read. His father was a prosperous joint-engineer to the Board of Northern Lighthouses. Stevenson studied engineering at Edinburgh University but, due to his ill health, had to abandon his plans to follow in his father's footsteps. He changed to law and passed the Scottish bar in 1875. Stevenson then took some time to travel to warmer countries in an attempt to improve his health. These experiences provided much material for his works.
Instead of practicing law, Stevenson devoted himself to writing travel sketches, essays, and short stories for magazines. While on a trip to France, he met Fanny Osbourne, whom he married in California in 1880. They later returned to Scotland but moved often, in search of better climates.
Stevenson is especially known for his adventure novels. His first success was the romantic adventure story Treasure Island. His other prominent works include Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Black Arrow. Characteristic of Stevenson's novels is a skillful use of horror and supernatural elements. His stories are often set in colorful locations, where his characters can forget the restrictions of Victorian social manners. Arguing against realism, Stevenson underlined the "nameless longings of the reader," or the desire for experience.
In 1885 Stevenson published A Child's Garden of Verses, which was dedicated to his childhood nurse and has since been made into popular songs. His last work, Weir of Hermiston, was left unfinished, but it is considered his masterpiece. From the late 1880s until his death, Stevenson lived with his family in Samoa. He enjoyed a period of comparative good health but died of a brain hemorrhage in 1894.