Biography

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894): Born in 1850, he grew up in Edinburgh, and the city had a great impact on his writing. From early childhood, he suffered from various ailments, and the fragility of his state is often seen as a reason for his fertile imagination. His father was an engineer, and it was assumed that Robert would follow in his footsteps. He studied law at Edinburgh University, but it was soon clear that his ambitions lay in literature.

Stevenson started writing fiction when still a teenager, but his first publication was the 1878 travel account An Inland Voyage, followed by Edinburgh, Picturesque Notes in 1879. Today, Stevenson is famous mainly for his adventure stories, such as Treasure Island, or Kidnapped, as well as his narrative The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, an attack on the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and a best seller both in Europe and America. Stevenson’s unconventional lifestyle, and his marriage to American divorcee Fanny Osbourne, caused tensions within his family. Due to his bad health, he spent much time away from home in France, Switzerland, and the South of England, but even from a distance, he explored the dualism of the Scottish psyche in his short fiction. On his father’s death in 1887, he went to America, and continued to go West to the South Pacific, where he finally found a climate suited to his condition, and settled down in Samoa. He never returned, and besides Scottish issues, turned to new themes in his fiction, incorporating native traditions, and supporting the case of anticolonialism.

His exile inspired some of his best work about Scotland and the Scots language, such as Catriona, or Weir of Hermiston, which he worked on until his death, and which remained unfinished.

Stevenson’s oeuvre also includes eight volumes of letters, haunting short stories, The Child’s Garden of Verses and other poetry. He died in Samoa in 1894.