Robert Louis Stevenson
Made by Kseniya Klimenko
Childhood and youth
Stevenson was born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850 to Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897) and Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer. Stevenson inherited a tendency to coughs and fevers. Contemporary views were that he had tuberculosis, but more recent views are that it was bronchiectasis or even sarcoidosis. His nurse, Alison Cunningham (known as Cummy), was more fervently religious. But she also cared for him tenderly in illness, reading to him from Bunyan and the Bible as he lay sick in bed and telling tales of the Covenanters. Stevenson recalled this time of sickness in "The Land of Counterpane" in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), and dedicated the book to his nurse.
An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at age six, a problem repeated at age eleven when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at Colinton. In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors.
He compulsively wrote stories throughout his childhood. His father was proud of this interest. He paid for the printing of Robert's first publication at sixteen, an account of the covenanters' rebellion which was published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: A Page of History, 1666 (1866). In November 1867 Stevenson entered the University of Edinburgh to study engineering. He showed from the start no enthusiasm for his studies and devoted much energy to avoiding lectures.
Although Stevenson returned to Britain shortly after this first meeting, Fanny apparently remained in his thoughts, and he wrote an essay, "On falling in love," for the Cornhill Magazine . They met again early in 1877 and became lovers. Stevenson spent much of the following year with her and her children in France. In August 1878 Fanny returned to San Francisco , California. But in August 1879 he set off to join her, against the advice of his friends and without notifying his parents. Although it was good experience for his literature, it broke his health, and he was near death when he arrived in Monterey, California , where some local ranchers nursed him back to health.
By December 1879 Stevenson had recovered his health enough. Fanny, now divorced and recovered from her own illness, came to Stevenson's bedside and nursed him to recovery. Fanny and Robert were married in May 1880, although, as he said, he was "a mere complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a bridegroom." With his new wife and her son, Lloyd, he travelled north of San Francisco to Napa Valley , and spent a summer honeymoon at an abandoned mining camp on Mount Saint Helena. For the next seven years, between 1880 and 1887, Stevenson searched in vain for a place of residence suitable to his state of health. When his father died in 1887, Stevenson felt free to follow the advice of his physician to try a complete change of climate, and he started with his mother and family for Colorado .
On 3 December 1894, Stevenson was talking to his wife and straining to open a bottle of wine when he suddenly exclaimed, "What's that!“asking his wife "Does my face look strange?“and collapsed. He died within a few hours, probably of a cerebral hemorrhage.
The Samoans insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night and on bearing their Tusitala upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea , where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea.
Stevenson had always wanted his 'Requiem' inscribed on his tomb:
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 sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
However, the piece is misquoted in many places, including his tomb:
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
Stevenson was loved by the Samoans, and his tombstone epigraph was translated to a Samoan song of grief which is well-known and still sung in Samoa.
Some of his works:
The Hair Trunk or The Ideal Commonwealth(1877) Unfinished and unpublished;
Treasure Island (1883) His first major success;
Prince Otto (1885) Stevenson’s third full-length narrative;
New Arabian Nights (1882);
"A Lodging for the Night"1877;
"An Old Song“;
"The Merry Men“;
A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), written for children but also popular with their parents;