Samoa loves Robert Louis Stevenson - and he loved Samoans. The love continues to this day as evidenced by the fact that he continues to be Samoa's most famous ex-patriot. They gave him a Samoan name which was easier for them to pronounce. They called him Tusitala - which means 'writer of tales.' In most of the rest of the world, he is affectionately known as 'R.L.S.' - said by some, as the most beloved initials in all of English literature. His restored home is now the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (RLSM). The RLSM has become Samoa's premier historical venue. The home and grounds have been preserved and maintained in a way that makes it available for Samoans and visitors to Samoa to know about Tusitala and his love for this country. The happiest time of his life was spent in this very place. He is buried immediately above the home site and his own words of the epitaph on his tomb reflect his desire to be buried here.
History of the RLSM/Vailima
THE ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON MUSEUM/PRESERVATION FOUNDATION, INC
The Robert Louis Stevenson estate was restored by the R.L.S. Museum/Preservation Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation recognized in the U.S.A. and Samoa. An Act of the Parliament of Samoa enabled the Foundation to sign a long-term lease from the Government for the purpose of restoring and preserving the historic site as a public benefit. It has become a premier tourist destination for many who continue to revere the name of R.L.S. from around the world. Samoans have come to respect his name and the vital role he played in preparing their country to become Independent.
The Chairman and President of the RLSM, namely Tilafaiga Rex Maughan and Jim Winegar have worked to preserve, maintain and operate the R.L.S. Museum out of love for the beautiful country of Samoa. They have a long and loving relationship with the people, the culture, having served them as L.D.S. missionaries in their youth. They first came to Samoa in the late 1950's and served in various areas of these islands. After returning to their homes in America, they worked had to raise their families and make it possible to keep their connections to SAMOA strong and productive. Many excursions were made to return to their paradise and to share their love of everything with others. Eventually, an opportunity arose to help save a large block of low-lying rainforest land in Savaii. They joined forces with a world-class ethno botanist, also a former missionary. From that significant effort came other secondary events that led to the realization that the former home of Tusitala was in disrepair and badly in need of serious maintenance.
An opportunity was recognized that there was an opportunity to do something extremely significant for all the people of Samoa – to
- Restore the former home of Tusitala
- Remember the profound effect that Tusitala had on the early development of Samoa
- Provide a significant venue to help promote Samoa tourism
Funds for the project were voluntarily contributed from sources outside Samoa. Operations and maintenance of the R.L.S. Museum are partially funded by admission receipts, gift shoppe sales and private donations.
The Foundation is chaired by Tilafaiga Rex Maughan, its primary benefactor. The Government of Samoa is represented by two board appointees. The Board oversees the fiscal, regulatory and policies of the not-for-profit entity.