Robert Louis Stevenson was born on this day

Robert Louis Stevenson was born 164 years ago today in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Born into a family of engineers and builders, Stevenson began engineering studies at Edinburgh University before switching to law. Instead of practicing in either field, he pursued literary aspirations in career that spanned nineteen years and crossed a wide range of genres including travel, adventure and horror.

To celebrate his birthday, here are five interesting particulars about Robert Louis Stevenson’s life.

  1. In his lifetime, Stevenson was an experienced traveler. A love for adventure saw him take a canoe tour around Belgium, hike through southern France, cross America by train and sail the South Seas with extended stops in Hawaii and Tahiti.
  2. Illness plagued much of Stevenson’s life. While bedridden in Bournemouth during a bout of particularly poor health, it is said he quickly penned the first draft of the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde following a feverish nightmare.
  3. A rainy afternoon of map drawing with his stepson, Lloyd, inspired Stevenson to write Treasure Island. It was first published in 1883 and is dedicated to Lloyd ‘in return for numerous delightful hours and kindest wishes’.
  4. After sailing around the Pacific, Stevenson decided to permanently settle with his family in Samoa in 1889, at the height of his literary career. His new island home inspired much of his later writing, which focused on Pacific subjects of both fiction and non-fiction, including novella The Ebb-Tide and short stories The Bottle Imp and The Isle of Voices.
  5. In 1891, Robert Louis Stevenson gave away his birthday to the young daughter of an American Land Commissioner in Samoa. After learning Annie was unhappy with having a birthday falling on Christmas Day, Stevenson composed a ‘legal’ document that formally gifted her right’s to his own birthday of November 13th.

Want to know more about Robert Louis Stevenson?

9780199536221Oxford World’s Classics
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales

Treasure islandOxford World’s Classics
Treasure Island



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