Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh. There he studied law, but since he had little or no taste for the legal profession and was suffering from tubercolosis, he left the Bar and began to travel around the world in order to try to recover his health in warmer climates. He began his literary career with a number of essays and short stories which he contributed to various periodicals. Then he started to write his novels of travel and adventure, which provided a welcome escape from the seriousness of the age into the regions of romance and fantasy. In the "Island Voyage" (1878) he described a canoe tour through Belgium and France, and in "Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes" he gave an account of his wanderings in France. His first real success came with "Treasure Island" (1883), a stirring story about pirates and buried treasure which has become a boys' classic. Then followed "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886), an extremely original novel of mystery and terror with symbolic overtones (black novel), and a number of Scottish historical novels, "Kidnapped" (1886), "The Masterof Ballantrae" (1889) and "Catriona" (1893). The last two novels were written in Samoa, where he had settled in 1888 and temporarily recovered his health. However, he died in 1894 from a ruptured blood-vessel in the brain, and was buried on the island. Stevenson owed his sudden and lasting succes to the vividness of his descriptions, the brisk pace of his narratives and a skilful combination of romance and realism. Judged from a modern standpoint, he must also be credited with a conscious effort to develop his craftsmanship towards new technical ideals, as is shown in his letters on the subject to Henry James. Stevenson also wrote some charming poems collected in "A Child's Garden of Verses" (1885) and "Underwoods" (1887).
Robert Louis Stevenson