Biographical Summary

painting and statue

Robert Lewis (nee) Stevenson came into the world in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the only child of Margaret Balfour and Thomas Stevenson, an upper middle-class family that was well-respected in Scottish circles. Thomas, from a family of engineers whose contributions to the major light house network along the Scotland coast of the North Sea are well documented. Margaret was the daughter of a highly respected minister and was raised with Calvinistic values. Together, they tried their best to pass their fundamentalist upbringings to their son.

His individualistic nature prompted him to legally change the spelling of his middle name to its French version of Louis, the name by which he became known to those close to him. His parents exposed him to different environments, but his Scottish roots were deeply embedded and are exposed throughout his works.

From an early age, he was challenged with serious health problems. He spent days and weeks in bed in the care of his nanny, Allison Cunningham, who had a profound effect on his thinking and how he expressed himself. He was precocious and astounded his family with his knowledge and wisdom. He was opinionated but resolute in not following in his father’s footsteps, much to his family’s disappointment. They eventually supported his diverse interests, including law school. They watched him become one of Scotland’s most prolific writers, who brought fame and admiration from all over the English-speaking world.

Scores of biographers and historians have documented his life through his frivolous young adult escapades and travels, to his love affairs and eventual marriage to a fellow eccentric personality, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. She was 10 years his senior and was married when they first met. Their relationship began in the south of France and blossomed when they went their separate ways, he to Scotland and she back to California. They soon discovered that they could not exist without each other. Their love drew them together like magnets and they eventually married in California and began a life together that was as interesting as any novel or tale he could have created.

Fanny gave Louis a ready-made family. Isobel, who blamed Louis for the break-up of her parents, she married early to get on with her own life –and, Lloyd, who learned to love Louis and was loyal to him throughout his entire life. Both became famous in their own rights because of their relationship with Louis.

He wrote poetry, essays, travelogues and was a compulsive letter writer. His life and his works have left a legacy of classic that continue to be admired today. Stories such as TREASURE ISLAND, THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, volumes of poetry, and even his PRAYERS, are admired and enjoyed today.