Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850-1894) by Belk, Patrick Scott

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a prolific Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer best known today for his 1883 novel . He was born in Edinburgh on November 13, 1850; his father, (1818–1887), was a civil engineer, while his mother, born (1829–1897), came from a long line of landed gentry who could proudly trace their name back to the fifteenth century. From her, Stevenson inherited his poor physical health, including a susceptibility to frequent and often severe illnesses that would become a regular feature of his entire life. On the evening of December 3, 1894, he collapsed and died, probably of a cerebral hemorrhage, at his home on a four hundred acre estate in the Samoan Islands. Stevenson—who had adopted the native name (Samoan for “Teller of Tales”)—was only 44 years old. Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island Thomas Stevenson Margaret Isabella Balfour Tusitala Though Stevenson’s parents were devout Calvinists, he rejected Christianity by the age of twenty. He had been an imaginative and precocious only child, and by the time he entered the University of Edinburgh in November 1867, at the age of seventeen, Stevenson had begun to stray far from his conventional middle-class upbringing. Though half-heartedly intending to become an engineer like his father, Stevenson neglected his university studies, adopting the dress and attitudes of a romantic Bohemian vagabond. During his years at university, Stevenson showed little interest in pursuing his father’s profession, and in the spring of 1871 he finally announced that he was not cut out to be an engineer. He had decided to become a writer instead, and over the course of the next quarter century Stevenson would produce hundreds of stories, poems, essays, and books including such well-known works as (1883), (1886), and (1886). With most of his writings reflecting a lifetime of travels and adventures abroad, Stevenson became a celebrity in his own time, and he continues to be popular around the world today, with over 200 biographies written about him. Treasure Island Kidnapped The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Stevenson’s relationship with the publishing house of Charles Scribner’s Sons began in 1885 with the book publication of . A later edition of this work was one of the original titles in the series. Stevenson did not begin writing regularly for , however, until after his arrival in America, his second trip to the country, in 1887. A Child’s Garden of Verses “Scribner Illustrated Classics” Scribner’s Magazine Based on his immense popularity with American readers at the time, and , editor of , offered Stevenson $3,500 for a series of twelve articles to be printed monthly in the magazine. The offer was accepted by the rather astonished author, who wrote to his friend , back in England: (343). Stevenson set to work on the essays at once, completing them all within a year. These articles include (January 1888), (August 1888), and (December 1888). Charles Scribner E. L. Burlingame Scribner’s William Archer I am to write a monthly paper for Scribner’s, at a scale of payment which makes my teeth ache for shame and diffidence. . . . I am like to be a millionaire if this goes on A Chapter on Dreams Epilogue to ‘An Island Voyage’ A Christmas Sermon Though Stevenson never did become a millionaire, his lucrative relationship with continued. For the serialization of from November 1888 to October 1889, Stevenson was offered a small fortune of $8,000. In the first published Index to (1891), Burlingame acknowledges Stevenson’s preeminent place in the magazine’s history when he writes: (5). The authors , , and are cursorily mentioned by Burlingame in a following paragraph. Scribner’s The Master of Ballantrae Scribner’s Magazine In fiction the Magazine may claim, it is believed, a substantial achievement. It has published in the last few years Stevenson’s ‘Master of Ballantrae,’ and ‘The Wrecker,’ now in progress Bret Harte Henry James Edith Wharton After Stevenson’s death in December 1894, Scribner’s Sons continued to publish and promote their beloved author. Installments of his letters, edited by his friend , appeared in from December 1898 to November 1899, and again in . Along with reprints of many of his own short stories, poems, and essays, numerous articles and reminiscences about Stevenson were also published in over the years, including further contributions by Colvin in , , and . Sidney Colvin Scribner’s April 1911 Scribner’s November 1912 August 1916 March 1920 —Patrick Scott Belk Works Cited and Consulted , ed. , volumes 1-10. New York: Scribner’s, 1891. 3-7. Burlingame, E. L. Introduction. Index to Scribner’s Magazine . . London: Morgan-Grampian Books Ltd., 1968. Mackenzie, Compton Robert Louis Stevenson . Dated October 1887, from Saranac Lake, New York. Reprinted in (Volume 26). New York: Scribner’s, 1899. 343-44. Stevenson, Robert Louis Letter to William Archer. Scribner’s Magazine Selected Works by Robert Louis Stevenson . London: Longmans, Green, 1885; New York: Scribner’s, 1885. A Child’s Garden of Verses . New York: Scribner’s, 1896; London: Chatto and Windus, 1900. In the South Seas . London: Cassell, 1893; New York: Scribner’s, 1893. Island Nights’ Entertainments: Consisting of The Beach of Falesá, The Bottle Imp, The Isle of Voices . London: Cassell, 1886; New York: Scribner’s, 1886. Kidnapped . London: Cassell, 1889; New York: Scribners, 1889. The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale . London: Longmans, Green, 1886; New York: Scribner’s, 1886. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . London: Kegan Paul, 1879; Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1879. Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes . London: Cassell, 1883; Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1884. Treasure Island

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