"Most of our pocket wisdom is conceived for the use of mediocre people, to discourage them from ambitious attempts, and generally console them in their mediocrity." -- Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 — 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His most well known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Stevenson has been greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins".
"A friend is a gift you give yourself.""Absences are a good influence in love and keep it bright and delicate.""All human beings are commingled out of good and evil.""All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.""An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.""Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a poor substitute for life.""Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.""Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.""Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal.""Even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates about a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week.""Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.""Every man has a sane spot somewhere.""Every one lives by selling something.""Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.""Everyone lives by selling something, whatever be his right to it.""Fiction is to the grown man what play is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life.""For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.""Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind, spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.""He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.""I am in the habit of looking not so much to the nature of a gift as to the spirit in which it is offered.""I find it useful to remember, everyone lives by selling something.""I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.""I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.""I regard you with an indifference closely bordering on aversion.""I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.""I've a grand memory for forgetting.""If a man loves the labour of his trade, apart from any question of success or fame, the gods have called him.""If we take matrimony at it's lowest, we regard it as a sort of friendship recognised by the police.""If your morals make you dreary, depend on it, they are wrong.""In marriage, a man becomes slack and selfish, and undergoes a fatty degeneration of his moral being.""It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.""It is better to lose health like a spendthrift than to waste it like a miser.""It is not likely that posterity will fall in love with us, but not impossible that it may respect or sympathize; so a man would rather leave behind him the portrait of his spirit than a portrait of his face.""It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.""It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it.""It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable in retrospect.""It's a pleasant thing to be young, and have ten toes.""Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.""Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.""Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.""Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.""Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords.""Marriage is like life - it is a field of battle, not a bed of roses.""Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.""Marriage: A friendship recognized by the police.""No man is useless while he has a friend.""Nothing like a little judicious levity.""Nothing made by brute force lasts.""Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own.""Of what shall a man be proud, if he is not proud of his friends?""Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.""Once you are married, there is nothing left for you, not even suicide.""Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.""Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.""Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.""Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.""So long as we are loved by others I should say that we are almost indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.""So long as we love, we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I should say that we are almost indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.""Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.""Talk is by far the most accessible of pleasures. It costs nothing in money, it is all profit, it completes our education, founds and fosters our friendships, and can be enjoyed at any age and in almost any state of health.""That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.""The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.""The correction of silence is what kills; when you know you have transgressed, and your friend says nothing, and avoids your eye.""The cruelest lies are often told in silence.""The Devil, can sometimes do a very gentlemanly thing.""The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.""The habit of being happy enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the domination of outward conditions.""The mark of a good action is that it appears inevitable in retrospect.""The obscurest epoch is today.""The price we have to pay for money is sometimes liberty.""The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy.""The web, then, or the pattern, a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style, that is the foundation of the art of literature.""The world has no room for cowards.""The world is full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.""The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.""There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.""There is a fellowship more quiet even than solitude, and which, rightly understood, is solitude made perfect.""There is an idea abroad among moral people that they should make their neighbors good. One person I have to make good: Myself. But my duty to my neighbor is much more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him happy if I may.""There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.""There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands, of years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change.""There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.""To be idle requires a strong sense of personal identity.""To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.""To be wholly devoted to some intellectual exercise is to have succeeded in life.""To become what we are capable of becoming is the only end in life.""To forget oneself is to be happy.""To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.""To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.""Vanity dies hard; in some obstinate cases it outlives the man.""We all know what Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it.""We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.""We live in an ascending scale when we live happily, one thing leading to another in an endless series.""We must accept life for what it actually is - a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.""Well, well, Henry James is pretty good, though he is of the nineteenth century, and that glaringly.""When a torrent sweeps a man against a boulder, you must expect him to scream, and you need not be surprised if the scream is sometimes a theory.""When I am grown to man's estate I shall be very proud and great. And tell the other girls and boys Not to meddle with my toys.""When it comes to my own turn to lay my weapons down, I shall do so with thankfulness and fatigue, and whatever be my destiny afterward, I shall be glad to lie down with my fathers in honor. It is human at least, if not divine.""Wine is bottled poetry.""You can forgive people who do not follow you through a philosophical disquisition; but to find your wife laughing when you had tears in your eyes, or staring when you were in a fit of laughter, would go some way towards a dissolution of the marriage.""You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.""You can kill the body but not the spirit.""You can read Kant by yourself, if you wanted to; but you must share a joke with someone else.""You cannot run away from weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?""You could read Kant by yourself, if you wanted; but you must share a joke with some one else.""You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850, to Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife, the former Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897). Lighthouse design was the family profession: Thomas's own father was the famous Robert Stevenson, and his maternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, and brothers Alan and David were also among those in the business. On Margaret's side, the family were gentry, tracing their name back to an Alexander Balfour, who held the lands of Inchrye in Fife in the fifteenth century. Her father, Lewis Balfour (1777–1860), was a minister of the Church of Scotland at nearby Colinton, and Stevenson spent the greater part of his boyhood holidays in his house. "Now I often wonder", says Stevenson, "what I inherited from this old minister. I must suppose, indeed, that he was fond of preaching sermons, and so am I, though I never heard it maintained that either of us loved to hear them."
Both Balfour and his daughter had a "weak chest" and often needed to stay in warmer climates for their health. Stevenson inherited a tendency to coughs and fevers, exacerbated when the family moved to a damp and chilly house at 1 Inverleith Terrace in 1853. The family moved again to the sunnier 17 Heriot Row when Stevenson was six, but the tendency to extreme sickness in winter remained with him until he was eleven. Illness would be a recurrent feature of his adult life, and left him extraordinarily thin. Contemporary views were that he had tuberculosis, but more recent views are that it was bronchiectasis or even sarcoidosis.
Stevenson's parents were both devout and serious Presbyterians, but the household was not incredibly strict. His nurse, Alison Cunningham (known as Cummy), was more fervently religious. Her Calvinism and folk beliefs were an early source of nightmares for the child; and he showed a precocious concern for religion. But she also cared for him tenderly in illness, reading to him from Bunyan and the Bible as he lay sick in bed, and telling tales of the Covenanters. Stevenson recalled this time of sickness in the poem "The Land of Counterpane" in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885) and dedicated the book to his nurse.An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at six, a pattern repeated at eleven, when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at the Colinton manse. In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He was a late reader, first learning at seven or eight; but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse. Throughout his childhood he was compulsively writing stories. His father was proud of this interest: he had himself written stories in his spare time until his own father found them and told him to "give up such nonsense and mind your business". He paid for the printing of Robert's first publication at sixteen, an account of the covenanters' rebellion, published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: a Page of History, 1666 (1866).
It was expected that Stevenson's writing would remain a sideline; and in November 1867 he entered the University of Edinburgh to study engineering. He showed from the start no enthusiasm for his studies and devoted much energy to avoiding lectures. This time was more important for the friendships he made: with other students in the Speculative Society (an exclusive debating club), particularly with Charles Baxter, who would become Stevenson's financial agent; and with one professor, Fleeming Jenkin, whose house staged amateur drama in which Stevenson took part, and whose biography he would later write. Perhaps most important at this point in his life was a cousin, Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson (known as "Bob"), a lively and light-hearted young man, who instead of the family profession had chosen to study art. Each year during vacations, Stevenson travelled to inspect the family's engineering works — to Anstruther and Wick in 1868, with his father on his official tour of Orkney and Shetland islands lighthouses in 1869, for three weeks to the island of Earraid in 1870. He enjoyed the travels, but more for the material they gave for his writing than for any engineering interest: the voyage with his father pleased him because a similar journey of Walter Scott with Robert Stevenson had provided the inspiration for The Pirate. In April 1871, he announced to his father his decision to pursue a life of letters. Though the elder Stevenson was naturally disappointed, the surprise cannot have been great, and Stevenson's mother reported that he was "wonderfully resigned" to his son's choice. To provide some security, it was agreed that Stevenson should read Law (again at Edinburgh University) and be called to the Scottish bar. Years later, in his poetry collection Underwoods (1887), he looked back on how he turned away from the family profession:
Say not of me that weakly I declinedThe labours of my sires, and fled the sea,The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,But rather say: In the afternoon of timeA strenuous family dusted from its handsThe sand of granite, and beholding farAlong the sounding coast its pyramidsAnd tall memorials catch the dying sun,Smiled well content, and to this childish taskAround the fire addressed its evening hours.
In other respects too, Stevenson was moving away from his upbringing. His dress became more Bohemian: he already wore his hair long, but he now took to wearing a velveteen jacket and rarely attended parties in conventional evening dress. Within the limits of a strict allowance, he visited cheap pubs and brothels. More importantly, he had come to reject Christianity. In January 1873, his father came across the constitution of the LJR (Liberty, Justice, Reverence) club of which Stevenson with his cousin Bob was a member, which began "Disregard everything our parents have taught us". Questioning his son about his beliefs, he discovered the truth, leading to a long period of dissension with both parents:
What a damned curse I am to my parents! as my father said "You have rendered my whole life a failure". As my mother said "This is the heaviest affliction that has ever befallen me". O Lord, what a pleasant thing it is to have damned the happiness of (probably) the only two people who care a damn about you in the world.
Early writing and travels
In late 1873, on a visit to a cousin in England, Stevenson made two new friendships that were to be of great importance to him, Sidney Colvin and Fanny (Frances Jane) Sitwell. Sitwell was a woman of thirty four, with a young son, separated from her husband. She attracted the devotion of many who met her, including Colvin, who eventually married her in 1901. Stevenson was another of those drawn to her, and over several years they kept up a heated correspondence, in which Stevenson wavered between the role of a suitor and a son (he came to address her as "Madonna"). Colvin became Stevenson's literary adviser, and after his death was the first editor of his letters. Soon after their first meeting he had placed Stevenson's first paid contribution, an essay, "Roads", in The Portfolio. Stevenson was soon active in London literary life, becoming acquainted with many of the writers of the time, including Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse, and Leslie Stephen, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, who took an interest in Stevenson's work. Stephen in turn would introduce him to a more important friend: visiting Edinburgh in 1875, he took Stevenson with him to visit a patient at the Edinburgh Infirmary, William Henley. Henley, an energetic and talkative man with a wooden leg, became a close friend and occasional literary collaborator for many years, until in 1888 a quarrel broke up the friendship. He is often seen as providing a partial model for the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
In November 1873, Stevenson had a physical collapse and was sent for his health to Menton on the French Riviera. He returned in better health in April 1874, and settled down to his studies, but he would often return to France in the coming years. He made long and frequent trips to the neighbourhood of the Forest of Fontainebleau, staying at Barbizon, Grez-sur-Loing and Nemours, becoming a member of the artists' colonies there, as well as to Paris to visit galleries and the theatres. He did qualify for the Scottish bar in July 1875; and his father added a brass plate with "R. L. Stevenson, Advocate" to the Heriot Row house. But although his law studies would influence his books, he never practised law. All his energies were now in travel and writing. One of his journeys, a canoe voyage in Belgium and France with Sir Walter Simpson, a friend from the Speculative Society and frequent travel companion, was the basis of his first real book, An Inland Voyage (1878).
Much like his father, Stevenson remained a staunch Tory for most of his life. His cousin and biographer, Sir Graham Balfour, said that "he probably throughout life would, if compelled to vote, have always supported the Conservative candidate". During his college years, he briefly identified as a "red-hot Socialist." However, by the year 1877, at only twenty-seven years of age and before having written most of his major fictional works, Stevenson reflected: "For my part, I look back to the time when I was a Socialist with something like regret. I have convinced myself (for the moment) that we had better leave these great changes to what we call great blind forces: their blindness being so much more perspicacious than the little, peering, partial eyesight of men [...] Now I know that in thus turning Conservative with years, I am going through the normal cycle of change and travelling in the common orbit of men's opinions. I submit to this, as I would submit to gout or gray hair, as a concomitant of growing age or else of failing animal heat; but I do not acknowledge that it is necessarily a change for the better...I dare say it is deplorably for the worse."
The canoe voyage with Simpson brought Stevenson to Grez in September 1876; and here he first met Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne (1840—1914). Born in Indianapolis, she had married at the age of seventeen and soon moved with her husband, Samuel Osbourne, to California. She had three children by the marriage, Isobel, the eldest, Lloyd and Hervey (who died in 1875); but anger over infidelities by her husband led to a number of separations and in 1875 she had taken her children to France, where she and Isobel studied art. Although Stevenson returned to Britain shortly after this first meeting, Fanny apparently remained in his thoughts, and he wrote an essay "On falling in love" for the Cornhill Magazine. They met again early in 1877 and became lovers. Stevenson spent much of the following years with her and her children in France. Then, in August 1878, Fanny returned to her home in San Francisco, California. Stevenson at first remained in Europe, making the walking trip that would form the basis for Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879); but in August 1879, he set off to join her, against the advice of his friends and without notifying his parents. He took second class passage on the steamship Devonia, in part to save money, but also to learn how others travelled and to increase the adventure of the journey. From New York City he travelled overland by train to California. He later wrote about the experience in The Amateur Emigrant. Although it was good experience for his literature, it broke his health, and he was near death when he arrived in Monterey. He was nursed back to health by some ranchers there.
By December 1879 he had recovered his health enough to continue to San Francisco, where for several months he struggled "all alone on forty-five cents a day, and sometimes less, with quantities of hard work and many heavy thoughts," in an effort to support himself through his writing, but by the end of the winter his health was broken again, and he found himself at death's door. Vandegrift ... now divorced and recovered from her own illness ... came to Stevenson's bedside and nursed him to recovery. "After a while," he wrote, "my spirit got up again in a divine frenzy, and has since kicked and spurred my vile body forward with great emphasis and success." When his father heard of his condition he cabled him money to help him through this period.
In May 1880, Stevenson married Fanny although, as he said, he was "a mere complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a bridegroom." With his new wife and her son, Lloyd, he travelled north of San Francisco to Napa Valley, and spent a summer honeymoon at an abandoned mining camp on Mount Saint Helena. He wrote about this experience in The Silverado Squatters. He met Charles Warren Stoddard, co-editor of the Overland Monthly and author of South Sea Idylls, who urged Stevenson to travel to the south Pacific, an idea which would return to him many years later. In August 1880 he sailed with his family from New York back to Britain, and found his parents and his friend Sidney Colvin on the wharf at Liverpool, happy to see him return home. Gradually his new wife was able to patch up differences between father and son and make herself a part of the new family through her charm and wit.
Attempted settlement in Europe and the U.S.
For the next seven years, between 1880 and 1887, Stevenson searched in vain for a place of residence suitable to his state of health. He spent his summers at various places in Scotland and England, including Westbourne, Dorset, a residential area in Bournemouth. There he lived in a dwelling he renamed Skerryvore after a lighthouse, the tallest in Scotland, built by his uncle Alan Stevenson many years earlier. For his winters, he escaped to sunny France, and lived at Davos-Platz and the Chalet de Solitude at Hyeres, where, for a time, he enjoyed almost complete happiness. "I have so many things to make life sweet for me," he wrote, "it seems a pity I cannot have that other one thing ... health. But though you will be angry to hear it, I believe, for myself at least, what is is best. I believed it all through my worst days, and I am not ashamed to profess it now." In spite of his ill health he produced the bulk of his best known work during these years: Treasure Island, his first widely popular book; Kidnapped; Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story which established his wider reputation; The Black Arrow; and two volumes of verse, A Child's Garden of Verses and Underwoods. At Skerryvore he gave a copy of Kidnapped to his dear friend and frequent visitor, Henry James.
On the death of his father in 1887, Stevenson felt free to follow the advice of his physician to try a complete change of climate. He started with his mother and family for Colorado; but after landing in New York they decided to spend the winter at Saranac Lake, in the Adirondacks at a cure cottage now known as Stevenson Cottage. During the intensely cold winter Stevenson wrote a number of his best essays, including Pulvis et Umbra, he began The Master of Ballantrae, and lightheartedly planned, for the following summer, a cruise to the southern Pacific Ocean. "The proudest moments of my life," he wrote, "have been passed in the stern-sheets of a boat with that romantic garment over my shoulders."
Journey to the Pacific
In June 1888, Stevenson chartered the yacht Casco and set sail with his family from San Francisco. The vessel "plowed her path of snow across the empty deep, far from all track of commerce, far from any hand of help." The salt sea air and thrill of adventure for a time restored his health; and for nearly three years he wandered the eastern and central Pacific, visiting important island groups, stopping for extended stays at the Hawaiian Islands where he became a good friend of King Kal?kaua, with whom Stevenson spent much time. Furthermore, Stevenson befriended the king's niece, Princess Victoria Kaiulani, who was of Scottish heritage. He also spent time at the Gilbert Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Samoan Islands. During this period he completed The Master of Ballantrae, composed two ballads based on the legends of the islanders, and wrote The Bottle Imp. He also witnessed the Samoan crisis. The experience of these years is preserved in his various letters and in The South Seas. A second voyage on the Equator followed in 1889 with Lloyd Osbourne accompanying them.
It was also from this period that one particular open letter stands as testimony to his activism and indignation at the pettiness of such 'powers that be' as a Presbyterian minister in Honolulu named Rev. Dr. Hyde. During his time in the Hawaiian Islands, Stevenson had visited Molokai and the leper colony there, shortly after the demise of Father Damien. When Dr. Hyde wrote a letter to a fellow clergyman speaking ill of Father Damien, Stevenson wrote a scathing open letter of rebuke to Dr. Hyde. Soon afterwards in April 1890 Stevenson left Sydney on the Janet Nicoll and went on his third and final voyage among the South Seas islands.
In 1890 he purchased four hundred acres (about 1.6 square kilometres) of land in Upolu, one of the Samoan islands. Here, after two aborted attempts to visit Scotland, he established himself, after much work, upon his estate in the village of Vailima. Stevenson himself adopted the native name Tusitala (Samoan for "Teller of Tales", i.e. a storyteller). His influence spread to the Samoans, who consulted him for advice, and he soon became involved in local politics. He was convinced the European officials appointed to rule the Samoans were incompetent, and after many futile attempts to resolve the matter, he published A Footnote to History. This was such a stinging protest against existing conditions that it resulted in the recall of two officials, and Stevenson feared for a time it would result in his own deportation. When things had finally blown over he wrote to Colvin, who came from a family of distinguished colonial administrators, "I used to think meanly of the plumber; but how he shines beside the politician!"
He was friends with some of the politicians and their families. At one point he formally donated, by deed of gift, his birthday to the daughter of the American Land Commissioner Henry Clay Ide, since she was born on Christmas Day and had no birthday celebration separate from the family's Christmas celebrations. This led to a strong bond between the Stevenson and Ide families.
In addition to building his house and clearing his land and helping the Samoans in many ways, he found time to work at his writing. He felt that "there was never any man had so many irons in the fire." He wrote The Beach of Falesa, Catriona (titled David Balfour in the USA), The Ebb-Tide, and the Vailima Letters, during this period.
For a time during 1894 Stevenson felt depressed; he wondered if he had exhausted his creative vein and completely worked himself out. He wrote that he had "overworked bitterly". He felt more clearly that, with each fresh attempt, the best he could write was "ditch-water". He even feared that he might again become a helpless invalid. He rebelled against this idea: "I wish to die in my boots; no more Land of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be thrown from a horse ... ay, to be hanged, rather than pass again through that slow dissolution." He then suddenly had a return of his old energy and he began work on Weir of Hermiston. "It's so good that it frightens me," he is reported to have exclaimed. He felt that this was the best work he had done. He was convinced, "sick and well, I have had splendid life of it, grudge nothing, regret very little ... take it all over, damnation and all, would hardly change with any man of my time."
Without knowing it, he was to have his wish fulfilled. During the morning of 3 December 1894, he had worked hard as usual on Weir of Hermiston. During the evening, while conversing with his wife and straining to open a bottle of wine, he suddenly exclaimed, "What's that!" He then asked his wife, "Does my face look strange?" and collapsed beside her. He died within a few hours, probably of a cerebral haemorrhage, at the age of 44. The Samoans insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night and on bearing their Tusitala upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea, where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea. Stevenson had always wanted his 'Requiem' inscribed on his tomb.
Under the wide and starry sky,Dig the grave and let me lie.Glad did I live and gladly die,And I laid me down with a will.This be the verse you grave for me:Here he lies where he longed to be;Home is the sailor, home from sea,And the hunter home from the hill.
However, the piece is widely misquoted, including the inscription on his tomb, which closes:
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,And the hunter home from the hill.
Stevenson was loved by the Samoans and the engraving on his tombstone was translated to a Samoan song of grief which is well known and still sung in Samoa.
A bronze relief memorial to Stevenson, designed by American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1904, is mounted in the Moray Aisle of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. Another memorial in Edinburgh stands in West Princes Street Gardens below Edinburgh Castle; it is a simple upright stone inscribed with "RLS - A Man of Letters 1850 -1894" by sculptor Iain Hamilton Finlay in 1987.
A garden was designed by the Bournemouth Corporation in 1957 as a memorial to Stevenson, on the site of his Westbourne house "Skerryvore" which he lived in from 1885 to 1887. A statue of the Skerryvore lighthouse is present on the site.
In 1994, to mark the 100th Anniversary of Stevenson's death, the Royal Bank of Scotland issued a series of commemorative £1 notes which featured a quill pen and Stevenson's signature on the obverse, and Stevenson's face on the reverse side. Alongside Stevenson's portrait are scenes from some of his books and his house in Western Samoa where he died in 1894. Two million notes were issued, each with a serial number beginning "RLS". The first note to be printed was sent to Samoa in time for their centenary celebrations on 3 December 1994.
Stevenson was a celebrity in his own time, but with the rise of modern literature after World War I, he was seen for much of the 20th century as a writer of the second class, relegated to children's literature and horror genres. Condemned by literary figures such as Virginia Woolf (daughter of his early mentor Leslie Stephen) and her husband Leonard, he was gradually excluded from the canon of literature taught in schools. His exclusion reached a height when in the 1973 2,000-page Oxford Anthology of English Literature Stevenson was entirely unmentioned; and the Norton Anthology of English Literature excluded him from 1968 to 2000 (1st–7th editions), including him only in the 8th edition (2006). The late 20th century saw the start of a re-evaluation of Stevenson as an artist of great range and insight, a literary theorist, an essayist and social critic, a witness to the colonial history of the Pacific Islands, and a humanist. Even as early as 1965 the pendulum had begun to swing: he was praised by Roger Lancelyn Green, one of the Oxford Inklings, as a writer of a consistently high level of "literary skill or sheer imaginative power" and a co-originator with H. Rider Haggard of the Age of the Story Tellers. He is now being re-evaluated as a peer of authors such as Joseph Conrad (whom Stevenson influenced with his South Seas fiction) and Henry James, with new scholarly studies and organisations devoted to Stevenson. No matter what the scholarly reception, Stevenson remains very popular around the world. According to the Index Translationum, Stevenson is ranked the 25th most translated author in the world, ahead of fellow nineteenth-century writers Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.
File:Robert-louis-stevenson.jpg|Photographic portrait c.1870'sImage:Robert Louis StevensonJune 1885.jpg|Platinum print, 1885, by Albert George Dew-Smith; from the collection of the National Galleries of ScotlandImage:Sargent - Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife.jpg|Stevenson paces in his dining room in an 1885 portrait by John Singer Sargent. His wife Fanny, seated in an Indian dress, is visible in the lower right corner.Image:Robert Louis Stevenson by Sargent.jpg|Portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1887Image:Rsl1.jpg|Photograph taken by Lloyd Osbourne c.1888Image:Robert louis stevenson.jpg|Portrait by Girolamo Nerli, 1892
For a detailed Bibliography see The Robert Louis Stevenson website. The website also maintains a complete list of thousands of derivative works in film, music, stage, audio, comics, etc.
Treasure Island (1883) His first major success, a tale of piracy, buried treasure, and adventure, has been filmed frequently. He originally entitled it The Sea Cook but an editor changed it.
A Tale of the Two Roses (1883) An historical adventure novel and romance set during the Wars of the Roses.
Prince Otto (1885) Stevenson’s third full-length narrative, an action romance set in the imaginary Germanic state of Grünewald.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), a novella about a dual personality much depicted in plays and films, also influential in the growth of understanding of the subconscious mind through its treatment of a kind and intelligent physician who turns into a psychopathic monster after imbibing a drug intended to separate good from evil in a personality.
Kidnapped (1886) is a historical novel that tells of the boy David Balfour's pursuit of his inheritance and his alliance with Alan Breck in the intrigues of Jacobite troubles in Scotland.
The Master of Ballantrae (1889), a masterful tale of revenge, set in Scotland, America, and India.
The Wrong Box (1889); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne. A comic novel of a tontine, also filmed (1966).
The Wrecker (1892); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne.
Catriona (1893), also known as David Balfour, is a sequel to Kidnapped, telling of Balfour's further adventures.
The Ebb-Tide (1894); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne.
Weir of Hermiston (1896). Unfinished at the time of Stevenson's death, considered to have promised great artistic growth.
being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England (1897). Unfinished at the time of Stevenson's death, the novel was completed by Arthur Quiller-Couch.
Short story collections
New Arabian Nights (1882)
The Dynamiter (1885); co-written with Fanny Van De Grift Stevenson
The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables (1887)
Island Nights' Entertainments (also known as South Sea Tales) (1893)
List of short stories sorted chronologically. Note: does not include collaborations with Fanny found in More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter.
"Béranger, Pierre Jean de", article for the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1875—89)
Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes (1879)
Virginibus Puerisque, and Other Papers (1881)
Familiar Studies of Men and Books (1882)
Memories and Portraits (1887), a collection of essays.
Aes Triplex (1887)
Father Damien: an Open Letter to the Rev. Dr. Hyde of Honolulu (1890)
Vailima Letters (1895)
The New Lighthouse on the Dhu Heartach Rock, Argyllshire (1995). Based on an 1872 manuscript edited by R. G. Swearingen. California. Silverado Museum.
Sophia Scarlet (2008). Based on 1892 manuscript edited by Robert Hoskins. AUT Media (AUT University).
A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), written for children but also popular with their parents. Includes such favourites as "My Shadow" and "The Lamplighter". Often thought to represent a positive reflection of the author's sickly childhood.
Underwoods (1887), a collection of poetry written in both English and Scots.
A Legend of the West Highlands (1887). Based on a famous Scottish ghost story.
Songs of Travel and Other Verses (1896)
An Inland Voyage (1878), travels with a friend in a "Rob Roy" canoe from Antwerp (Belgium) to Pontoise, just north of Paris.
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), two weeks' solo ramble (with Modestine as his beast of burden) in the mountains of Cévennes (south-central France), one of the first books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities. It tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.
The Silverado Squatters (1883). An unconventional honeymoon trip to an abandoned mining camp in Napa Valley with his new wife Fanny and her son Lloyd. He presciently identifies the California wine industry as one to be reckoned with.
Across the Plains (written in 1879—80, published in 1892). Second leg of his journey, by train from New York to California (then picks up with The Silverado Squatters). Also includes other travel essays.
The Amateur Emigrant (written 1879—80, published 1895). An account of the first leg of his journey to California, by ship from Europe to New York. Andrew Noble (From the Clyde to California: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Emigrant Journey, 1985) considers it to be his finest work.
The Old and New Pacific Capitals (1882). An account of his stay in Monterey, California in August to December 1879. Never published separately. See, for example, James D. Hart, ed., From Scotland to Silverado, 1966.
Essays of Travel (London: Chatto & Windus, 1905)
Although not well known, his island fiction and non-fiction is among the most valuable and collected of the 19th century body of work that addresses the Pacific area.
Non-fiction works on the Pacific
In the South Seas. A collection of Stevenson's articles and essays on his travels in the Pacific.
A Footnote to History, Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa (1892).
Stevenson was an amateur composer who wrote songs typical of California in the 1880s, salon-type music, entertaining rather than serious. A flageolet player, Stevenson had studied harmony and simple counterpoint and knew such basic instrumental techniques as transposition. Some song titles include "Fanfare", "Tune for Flageolet", "Habanera", and "Quadrille". Robert Hughes in 1968 arranged a number of Stevenson's songs for chamber orchestra, which went on a tour of the Pacific Northwest in that year.