STEVENSON, Robert Louis (baptized Robert Lewis Balfour), Scottish novelist, es sayist, and poet: b. 8 Howard place, Edinburgh, 13 Nov. 1850; d. Vailima, island of Upolu, Samoa, 3 Dee. 1894. He was the only child of Thomas Stevenson, an eminent light-house en gineer,—: as his father, Robert Stevenson, had been before him,— and Margaret Isabella, daughter of the Rev. Lewis Balfour, of Colin ton in Midlothian. He was a playful. imagina tive child; was fond of being read to, and com menced to compose (by dictation) at the age of six. His health was infirm from the first ; but he was tended and kept alive by a devoted nurse, Alison Cunningham, to whom he re mained affectionately grateful throughout his life. His schooling was irregular and incon secutive; and even while attending school he showed a truant disposition. On his many rambles, he always took a copy-book, in which he tried to fit into words his impressions of people and places, imitating the cadences of his favorite authors. In 1867 he entered Edin burgh University, and studied engineering with a view to following the family profession. He showed, however, little interest in this; though in 1871 he won a silver medal for a paper on light-house apparatus. The same year he gave up engineering, and began to study law. He was •called to the bar in 1875; but immediately forsook the legal profession also, and turned his attention entirely to letters.
Acute nerve exhaustion and danger to the lungs forced him to spend the winter of 1873 at Mentone. In 1874 he joined the Savile Club in London, and soon made friends with many of the most prominent literary men of the day, including Sidney Colvin, William Ernest Hen ley, Edmund Gosse, Andrew Lang, Walter Pollock, Leslie Stephen, Cosmo Monkhouse, Sir Walter Simpson, George Meredith and Prof. Fleeming Jenkin. His social charm was irresistible, and he was noted for the brilliancy and ardor of his talk. Henley's sonnet, (Ap parition,' gives vivid description of him at this period. He practised writing constantly. In April 1875, he made his first visit to the artist haunts of Fontainebleau, in company with his painter cousin, R. A. M. Stevenson. In 1876, in company with Simpson, he took the canoe trip from Antwerp to Grez, which he afterward narrated in his first book, 'An In land Voyage' (1878) ; and in 1878 he went alone upon the tramping trip which resulted in 'Travels with a Donkey' (1879). These little books of travel stamped him already as a master of English prose style, though they were written with more elaborate mannerism than he showed in his maturer work. Mean while, beginning 1876, he contributed to the Cornhill and other magazines the critical essays later collected in 'Familiar Studies of Men and (1882), and the bracing and vigorous papers on life and the living of it, collected in Puerisque' (1881). As a critic he showed thorough study and sympathetic in sight, and as a moralist he displayed a militant gaiety and bracing bravery of spirit. His first published stories were Lodging for the Night) (1877) • 'The Sire de Maletroit's Door' (1878), and 'Will o' the Mill' (1878). His first volume of fiction was 'New Arabian Nights,' which appeared serially June to Octo ber 1878. These early stories showed at once his romantic love for the poetry of circumstance, and his mastery of rapid and brilliant narra tive.
Soon after the inland voyage of 1876, Stevenson met in France an American lady, Mrs. Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, for whom he conceived almost immediately a devotion that changed the entire course of his life. Her
domestic circumstances had been unhappy, and on her return home in 1878, she took steps to obtain a divorce from her husband. Learning her determination, Stevenson resolved to follow her, and started suddenly for California in August 1879. He undertook the journey against the remonstrances of his family and friends. He was very short of funds; and therefore crossed the ocean in the steerage, and traversed the continent in an emigrant train. The experiences of this double journey he afterward narrated in 'The Amateur Emi grant' and 'Across the Plains.' On board ship he wrote 'The Story of a Lie,' under stress t f immediate need for money. The hardships that he genially endured resulted in a general breakdown of his health. From September to December 1879, -at Monterey and worked incessantly. In December 1879, he moved to San Francisco, where for airee months he lived in a workman's lodging, and was reduced almost to the point of death by enforced frugality and excessive labor. Mrs. Osbourne nursed him back to life. She was now free from her former husband, and Steven son married her in May 1880. Immediately afterward, in order to insure his recovery, the couple moved to a deserted mining camp in the California Coast Range. An account of their experiences here is given in the 'Silverado Squatters.' In August 1880, Stevenson brought his wife to England, where she was enthusiastically wel comed by his parents and friends. During the next two years he spent his summers in Scot land and his winters, on account of his pre carious health, at Davos Platz, in Switzerland, where he enjoyed the companionship of John Addington Symonds. At Davos he completed 'Treasure Island,' a stirring narrative for boys, both young and old, that made his fame as an artist in romance. It appeared serially in Young Folks from October 1881 to January 1882, and was published in book form in 1883. The author received f100 for the book rights of the story, and was delighted at the price, little knowing how the work was destined to endure. From 1882 to 1884 he lived in the south of France, partly at Marseilles and Nice, but chiefly at Hyeres. In 1884 he returned to Eng land and settled at Bournemouth, where he re mained till 1887. His health was at its lowest ebb during this period. A great part of his time was spent necessarily in bed; often, be cause of his tendency to hemorrhages, he was forbidden to speak aloud. In spite of this handicap, he kept cheerfully at work, and pro duced, besides many minor stories of the high est merit, the graceful and urbane romance. 'Prince Otto' (1885), the thrilling and ad venturous (Kidnapped' (1886), and 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1886), that terrible and searching tale of the good and had in man. In 1885 he also pub lished 'A Child's Garden of Verses,' a collec tion of poems showing such unsophisticated memory and intimate understanding of child hood as to make its author the poet laureate of the nursery. During the same period he composed four plays in collaboration with W. E. Henley; but his attempts in the dramatic form were never of great importance. In 1887 appeared 'The Merry Men and Other Tales,' a volume which collected some of his most artistic novelettes and short stories, among them being 'Markheim,', a grim tale of conscience and remorse; and also (Memories and Portraits,' a collection of papers chiefly autobiographical.