Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Thomas Stevenson, a successful engineer, and Margaret Balfour. He went to Edinburgh Academy in his youth. His parents were both very religious. Robert gave up the religion of his parents whilst studying at Edinburgh University, but the teaching that he received as a child continued to influence him.
Although ill with tuberculosis from childhood, Stevenson had a full life. He began his education as an engineer (and his lighthouse designs were much praised). At the age of 18 he dropped the name Balfour and changed his middle name from Lewis to Louis (but retaining the original pronunciation); from this time on he began styling himself "RLS". He turned to the law because of poor health, but he never practiced. He ended as a tribal leader (called by his tribe Tusitala) and plantation owner at his residence "Vailima" in Samoa, all this in addition to his literary career.
His wife Fanny (née Osbourne),whom he married in 1880, was a great support in his adventurous and arduous life.
Stevenson made several trips to the Kingdom of Hawaii and became a good friend of King David Kalakaua with whom Stevenson spent much time. Stevenson also became best friends with the king's niece Princess Victoria Kaiulani, also of Scottish heritage. Since the tragic deaths of both Stevenson and Kaiulani, historians have debated the true nature of their relationship as to whether or not they had romantic feelings for each other. Because of the age difference, such stories have often been discredited. In 1888, Stevenson travelled to the island of Molokai just weeks after the death of Father Damien. He spent twelve days at the missionary priest's residence, Bishop Home at Kalawao . Stevenson taught the local girls to play croquet. When Congregationalist and Presbyterian ministers began to incite slander against Father Damien out of spite for his Catholicism, Stevenson wrote one of his most famous essays in defense of the life and work of the missionary priest.
Stevenson died of a brain(cerebral) haemorrhage in Vailima in Samoa, aged 44. In his will, he bequeathed his birthday to a little girl who had been born on Christmas Day.
- Treasure Island (1883) His first major success, a tale of piracy, buried treasure, and adventure, has been filmed frequently. It was originally called The Sea-Cook.
- The Black Arrow (1884)
- Kidnapped (1886) is an 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. Catriona (1893) is a sequel, telling of Balfour's further adventures.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), a short novel 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.
- The New Arabian Nights (1882), a collection of tales.
- The Body Snatcher (1885), another influential horror novel.
- The Wrong Box , (1892), with Lloyd Osbourne, a comic novel of a tontine, also filmed (1966). A tontine is a group life-insurance policy in which the last survivor gets all the insurance. Both in the novel and in real life, it is an incentive to murder, and no longer legal in most countries.
- The Master of Ballantrae (1888), a masterful tale of revenge, set in Scotland and America.
- Weir of Hermiston (1896), novel, unfinished at his death, considered to have promised great artistic growth.
- A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), written for children but also popular with their parents. Includes such favorites as "My Shadow" and "The Lamplighter". Often thought to represent a positive reflection of the author's sickly childhood.
- An Inland Voyage (1878), travels in a canoe from Antwerp (Belgium) to Pontoise, just north of Paris.
- Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), travels in Cévennes (France), one of the first books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities. Tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.
- Silverado Squatters (1883), convalescence trip to Silverado , California.
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
- The Beach at Falesa, one of his most mature works, it explores the relationship between white traders and islanders in a way that anticipates Conrad and Maugham.
- An Island Nights' Entertainment. Three great stories: The Bottle Imp , The Beach at Falesá and The Isle of Voices.
- The Wrecker with Lloyd Osbourne
- The Ebb Tide with Lloyd Osbourne
Works in Scots
- Complete Works of Robert Louis Stevenson
- Project Gutenberg e-texts of some of Robert Louis Stevenson's works
- Full text of Robert Louis Stevenson: a record, an estimate, and a memorial Alexander H. Japp
- Full text of the biography Robert Louis Stevenson by Sir Walter Raleigh
- The bell rock lighthouse and the Stevenson : the history of an old sea tower and a family of engineers
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