Robert Louis Stevenson

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Biographical Essay Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Lewis (later "˜Louis') Balfour Stevenson grew up in Edinburgh, which profoundly shaped his writing. He was born on November 13th, 1850 in Howard place to his father, Thomas, and mother, Margaret Isabella Balfour. It was assumed that Robert would follow in the footsteps of his father and study engineering at Edinburgh University Stevenson from the earliest childhood was frequently ill. As a baby he showed signs of pulmonary trouble, most likely inherited from his mother. This of course influenced a fertile imagination in young Robert. His childish mind was developed with the help of his nurse, Alison Cunningham with her stories full of ghosts and fairies. His father was an engineer who built many of the deep-sea lighthouses around the rocky coast of Scotland. His mother came from a family of lawyers and church ministers.

Spending most of his childhood at his grandfather's house or his Aunt Jane's, Little Stevenson had a happy childhood.

He attended school at Edinburgh academy and at the age of 17 became a student, just as planed, at Edinburgh University. He never really cared much about his studies or showed interest in them and spent most of his time in the low life part of town in Edinburgh. At the age of 21 he expressed his opinion and left to become a writer. Due to his history of illness, his father complied with Robert's wishes.

He started to write in his teens and already some of his pieces of work appeared in English magazines. His first published piece of work was an essay called, "˜Roads'. Despite his ill health, Robert traveled extensively. Actually his first published book, An Inland Voyage (1878), was about a canoe tour that he took from France to Belgium. About one year later, 1879, Stevenson wrote another book, In the Cevennes. It was that same year that he traveled to California and married his wife Ms. Fanny Osborne who he had met earlier in France.

One of his most celebrated as well as most enjoyable books, Treasure Island, was written for his stepson Lloyd Osborne. Health reasons caused Stevenson and his family to move in 1888. The family decided to settle in Apia, on Samoa, among the Pacific Islands. The South Pacific opened new subjects for his writing. He responded to island culture and compared it to that of the Highland culture in Scotland. Even though he was away from Scotland, he loved to write about it. Some of his most powerful short stories like, "Thrawn Janet" and "The Merry Men" have Scottish themes.

The cold rainy weather forced the Stevenson family to amuse themselves indoors. One day Stevenson and his twelve-year old stepson, Lloyd, drew the map of an imaginary "˜Treasure Island'. The book, Treasure Island, was a story written based on entertainment for his family. Treasure Island opened Stevenson up to the popularity that he became to know and adore, which made him quite profitable as well.

On December 4th, 1894, Robert Louis Stevenson died as a blood vessel ruptured in his brain. He was buried in the summit of Mon Vaea by the native people who called him, "˜Tusitala' Teller of Tales. One of his well-known verses from his "˜requiem' was rightly etched on his tombstone. It read, "Here he lies where he longed to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea And the hunter home from the hill."