Robert Louis Stevenson

   Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, and miscellaneous writer, born in Edinburgh. His father and grandfather (Robert Stevenson) were lighthouse engineers, and he was at first intended for the engineering profession. But he turned to law, and was called to the Scottish bar. Soon, however, he forced his way into the front rank of contemporary writers by the excellence of his style. Some experiences which supplied impulse and ma­terial were leisurely journeys through France by canoe and on foot, a voyage across the Atlantic in the steerage of an emigrant ship, and the after-journey across the continent in an emigrant train, and, lastly, a lengthened residence in Samoa, where he settled in 1889.

   His earliest books were An Inland Voyage (1878), Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), Virginibus Puerisque (1881), and Familiar Studies of Men and Books (1882). In his New Arabian Nights (1882) he displayed his wealth of imaginativeness. More important was its successor, Treasure Island (1883), a triumph in literature. Hardly less excellent was Kidnapped (1886); but The Master of Ballantrae (1889) and The Black Arrow (1888) fall into lower rank. In 1885 appeared his Child's Carden of Verses, an imaginative realization of childhood. Later volumes of verse were Underwoods (1887) and Ballads (1891). The Silverado Squatters dates from 1884, and Across the Plains from 1892. Prince Otto (1885) has been pronounced the crux for testing the true Stevensonian; the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) displayed outstanding ingenuity and exquisite art. The Merry Men (1887) contains some of his most delicate work; in Memories and Portraits the interest was largely autobiographical. The Island Nights' Entertainments and Catriona (a continuation of Kidnapped) mark the year 1893, The Suicide Club, 1894. With his wife he wrote The Dynamiter (1885), and with his stepson Lloyd Osbourne The Wrong Box (1889), The Wrecker (1892), and The Ebb Tide (1894). He died after a long struggle against tuberculosis and was buried on the top of a Mountain behind his Samoan home of Vailima. At his death he was the most conspicuos personality in English letters, and he had secured from all classes of readers an exceptional wealth of affection. Weir of Hermiston, an unfinished story, appeared in Cosmopolis (1895); and St. Ives, in the Pall Mall Magazine (1897).