The Bagpiper

A Newsletter for Erwin & Related Families

Volume 6, Issue 3                          Sub Sole Sub Umbra Virens                    September 2007

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Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Born November 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was an engineer who, with his two brothers, was responsible for building over forty lighthouses around Britain. He was an only child whose later autobiographical essays and poetry ("A Child's Garden of Verses") described growing up in Edinburgh.

He suffered from ill health but started an engineering course at Edinburgh University with the intention of going into his father's business. But he wanted to be a professional writer, and eventually, as a compromise with his father, he studied  for a law degree instead, passing the English bar exams in 1875.

The vacations he spent in France with his cousin, an artist, became the basis for "Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes". He sometimes wrote in the Scots vernacular, including a number of poems and the story of "Thrawn Janet".

While in France he met Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, an American who was ten years older than himself. Despite disapproval from his father, he followed her across America and married her in San Francisco. However, he had contracted tuberculosis and spent the following years trying to find places conducive to helping to allay his symptoms.

He published "Treasure Island" in 1882 and the thriller Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"and "Kidnapped" in 1886. While in America he started "The Master of Ballantrae," set in Scotland and America.

He made a number of voyages to the South Seas, and eventually settled in Samoa in 1890. He continued writing there but unexpectedly died of a stroke on December 3, 1894.