Robert Louis Stevenson
|Robert Louis Stevenson|
Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson
13 November 1850
3 December 1894
Vailima, Samoan Islands
|Occupation||Novelist, poet, travel writer|
1857 Mr. Henderson's School, Edinburgh
1857 Private tutors
1859 Return to Mr. Henderson's School
1861 Edinburgh Academy
1863 Boarding school in Isleworth, Middlesex
1864 Robert Thomson's School, Edinburgh
1867 University of Edinburgh
A Child's Garden of Verses
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
|Spouse||Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne|
Isobel Osbourne Strong (stepdaughter)
Lloyd Osbourne (stepson)
father: Thomas Stevenson
mother: Margaret Isabella Balfour
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. His works have been admired by many other writers, including Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Cesare Pavese, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins."
- 1 Life
- 2 Manuscripts
- 3 Musical compositions
- 4 Modern reception
- 5 Monuments and commemoration
- 6 Gallery
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Secondary literature
- 11 External links
Childhood and youth
Stevenson was born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850 to Thomas Stevenson (1818–87), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife Margaret Isabella (née Balfour; 1829–97). He was christened Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson. At about age 18, Stevenson was to change the spelling of "Lewis" to "Louis", and in 1873 he dropped "Balfour."
Lighthouse design was the family profession: Thomas's father (Robert's grandfather) was the famous Robert Stevenson, and both of Thomas's brothers (Robert's uncles) Alan and David, were in the same field. Indeed, even Thomas's maternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, had been in the same profession. However, Robert's mother's family were not of the same profession. Margaret's natal family, the Balfours, were gentry, tracing their lineage back to a certain Alexander Balfour who had held the lands of Inchyra in Fife in the fifteenth century. Margaret's father, Lewis Balfour (1777–1860), was a minister of the Church of Scotland at nearby Colinton. Stevenson spent the greater part of his boyhood holidays in his maternal grandfather's house. "Now I often wonder," wrote Stevenson, "what I inherited from this old minister. I must suppose, indeed, that he was fond of preaching sermons, and so am I, though I never heard it maintained that either of us loved to hear them."
Lewis Balfour and his daughter both had weak chests, so they often needed to stay in warmer climates for their health. Stevenson inherited a tendency to coughs and fevers, exacerbated when the family moved to a damp, chilly house at 1 Inverleith Terrace in 1851. The family moved again to the sunnier 17 Heriot Row when Stevenson was six years old, but the tendency to extreme sickness in winter remained with him until he was eleven. Illness would be a recurrent feature of his adult life and left him extraordinarily thin. Contemporary views were that he had tuberculosis, but more recent views are that it was bronchiectasis or even sarcoidosis.
Stevenson's parents were both devout and serious Presbyterians, but the household was not strict in its adherence to Calvinist principles. His nurse, Alison Cunningham (known as Cummy), was more fervently religious. Her Calvinism and folk beliefs were an early source of nightmares for the child, and he showed a precocious concern for religion. But she also cared for him tenderly in illness, reading to him from Bunyan and the Bible as he lay sick in bed and telling tales of the Covenanters. Stevenson recalled this time of sickness in "The Land of Counterpane" in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), dedicating the book to his nurse.
An only child, strange-looking and eccentric, Stevenson found it hard to fit in when he was sent to a nearby school at age six, a problem repeated at age eleven when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at Colinton. In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, so he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He was a late reader, first learning at age seven or eight, but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse. He compulsively wrote stories throughout his childhood. His father was proud of this interest; he had also written stories in his spare time until his own father found them and told him to "give up such nonsense and mind your business." He paid for the printing of Robert's first publication at sixteen, an account of the covenanters' rebellion, which was published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: A Page of History, 1666 (1866).
In September 1857, Stevenson went to Mr Henderson's School in India Street, Edinburgh, but because of poor health stayed only a few weeks and did not return until October 1859. During his many absences he was taught by private tutors. In October 1861, he went to Edinburgh Academy, an independent school for boys, and stayed there sporadically for about fifteen months. In the autumn of 1863, he spent one term at an English boarding school at Spring Grove in Isleworth in Middlesex (now an urban area of West London). In October 1864, following an improvement to his health, he was sent to Robert Thomson's private school in Frederick Street, Edinburgh, where he remained until he went to university. In November 1867, Stevenson entered the University of Edinburgh to study engineering. He showed from the start no enthusiasm for his studies and devoted much energy to avoiding lectures. This time was more important for the friendships he made with other students in the Speculative Society (an exclusive debating club), particularly with Charles Baxter, who would become Stevenson's financial agent, and with a professor, Fleeming Jenkin, whose house staged amateur drama in which Stevenson took part, and whose biography he would later write. Perhaps most important at this point in his life was a cousin, Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson (known as "Bob"), a lively and light-hearted young man who, instead of the family profession, had chosen to study art. Each year during vacations, Stevenson travelled to inspect the family's engineering works—to Anstruther and Wick in 1868, with his father on his official tour of Orkney and Shetland islands lighthouses in 1869, and for three weeks to the island of Erraid in 1870. He enjoyed the travels more for the material they gave for his writing than for any engineering interest. The voyage with his father pleased him because a similar journey of Walter Scott with Robert Stevenson had provided the inspiration for Scott's 1822 novel The Pirate. In April 1871, Stevenson notified his father of his decision to pursue a life of letters. Though the elder Stevenson was naturally disappointed, the surprise cannot have been great, and Stevenson's mother reported that he was "wonderfully resigned" to his son's choice. To provide some security, it was agreed that Stevenson should read Law (again at Edinburgh University) and be called to the Scottish bar. In his 1887 poetry collection Underwoods, Stevenson muses his turning from the family profession:
Say not of me that weakly I declined
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea,
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,
To play at home with paper like a child.
But rather say: In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sand of granite, and beholding far
Along the sounding coast its pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun,
Smiled well content, and to this childish task
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.
In other respects too, Stevenson was moving away from his upbringing. His dress became more Bohemian; he already wore his hair long, but he now took to wearing a velveteen jacket and rarely attended parties in conventional evening dress. Within the limits of a strict allowance, he visited cheap pubs and brothels. More importantly, he had come to reject Christianity and declared himself an atheist. In January 1873, his father came across the constitution of the LJR (Liberty, Justice, Reverence) Club, of which Stevenson and his cousin Bob were members, which began: "Disregard everything our parents have taught us". Questioning his son about his beliefs, he discovered the truth, leading to a long period of dissension with both parents:
What a damned curse I am to my parents! As my father said "You have rendered my whole life a failure". As my mother said "This is the heaviest affliction that has ever befallen me". O Lord, what a pleasant thing it is to have damned the happiness of (probably) the only two people who care a damn about you in the world.
Early writing and travels
In late 1873, on a visit to a cousin in England, Stevenson met two people who were to be of great importance to him, Sidney Colvin and Fanny (Frances Jane) Sitwell. Sitwell was a 34-year-old woman with a son, separated from her husband. She attracted the devotion of many who met her, including Colvin, who eventually married her in 1901. Stevenson was also drawn to her, and over several years they kept up a heated correspondence in which Stevenson wavered between the role of a suitor and a son (he came to address her as "Madonna"). Colvin became Stevenson's literary adviser and after his death was the first editor of Stevenson's letters. Soon after their first meeting, he had placed Stevenson's first paid contribution, an essay entitled "Roads," in The Portfolio. Stevenson was soon active in London literary life, becoming acquainted with many of the writers of the time, including Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse, and Leslie Stephen, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, who took an interest in Stevenson's work. Stephen in turn would introduce him to a more important friend. Visiting Edinburgh in 1875, he took Stevenson with him to visit a patient at the Edinburgh Infirmary, William Ernest Henley. Henley, an energetic and talkative man with a wooden leg, became a close friend and occasional literary collaborator, until a quarrel broke up the friendship in 1888. Henley is often seen as the model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
In November 1873, after Stevenson's health failed, he was sent to Menton on the French Riviera to recuperate. He returned in better health in April 1874 and settled down to his studies, but he returned to France several times after that. He made long and frequent trips to the neighbourhood of the Forest of Fontainebleau, staying at Barbizon, Grez-sur-Loing, and Nemours and becoming a member of the artists' colonies there, as well as to Paris to visit galleries and the theatres. He did qualify for the Scottish bar in July 1875, and his father added a brass plate with "R.L. Stevenson, Advocate" to the Heriot Row house. But although his law studies would influence his books, he never practised law. All his energies were now spent in travel and writing. One of his journeys, a canoe voyage in Belgium and France with Sir Walter Simpson, a friend from the Speculative Society and frequent travel companion, was the basis of his first real book, An Inland Voyage (1878).
The canoe voyage with Simpson brought Stevenson to Grez in September 1876, where he first met Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne (1840–1914). Born in Indianapolis, she had married at age seventeen and moved to Nevada to rejoin husband Samuel after his participation in the American Civil War. That marriage produced three children: Isobel (or "Belle"), Lloyd, and Hervey (who died in 1875). But anger over her husband's infidelities led to a number of separations. In 1875 she had taken her children to France, where she and Isobel studied art. Although Stevenson returned to Britain shortly after this first meeting, Fanny apparently remained in his thoughts, and he wrote an essay, "On falling in love", for the Cornhill Magazine. They met again early in 1877 and became lovers. Stevenson spent much of the following year with her and her children in France. In August 1878 Fanny returned to San Francisco, California. Stevenson at first remained in Europe, making the walking trip that would form the basis for Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). But in August 1879 he set off to join her, against the advice of his friends and without notifying his parents. He took second-class passage on the steamship Devonia, in part to save money but also to learn how others travelled and to increase the adventure of the journey. From New York City he travelled overland by train to California. He later wrote about the experience in The Amateur Emigrant. Although it was good experience for his literature, it broke his health. He was near death when he arrived in Monterey, California, where some local ranchers nursed him back to health.
By December 1879, Stevenson had recovered his health enough to continue to San Francisco, where for several months he struggled "all alone on forty-five cents a day, and sometimes less, with quantities of hard work and many heavy thoughts," in an effort to support himself through his writing. But by the end of the winter, his health was broken again and he found himself at death's door. Fanny, now divorced and recovered from her own illness, came to Stevenson's bedside and nursed him to recovery. "After a while," he wrote, "my spirit got up again in a divine frenzy, and has since kicked and spurred my vile body forward with great emphasis and success." When his father heard of his condition, he cabled him money to help him through this period.
Fanny and Robert were married in May 1880, although, as he said, he was "a mere complication of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a bridegroom." With his new wife and her son, Lloyd, he travelled north of San Francisco to Napa Valley and spent a summer honeymoon at an abandoned mining camp on Mount Saint Helena. He wrote about this experience in The Silverado Squatters. He met Charles Warren Stoddard, co-editor of the Overland Monthly and author of South Sea Idylls, who urged Stevenson to travel to the South Pacific, an idea which would return to him many years later. In August 1880, he sailed with Fanny and Lloyd from New York to Britain and found his parents and his friend Sidney Colvin on the wharf at Liverpool, happy to see him return home. Gradually his new wife was able to patch up differences between father and son and make herself a part of the new family through her charm and wit.
Attempted settlement in Europe and the US
For the next seven years, between 1880 and 1887, Stevenson searched in vain for a place of residence suitable to his state of health. He spent his summers at various places in Scotland and England, including Westbourne, Dorset, a residential area in Bournemouth. It was during his time in Bournemouth that he wrote the story Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, naming one of the characters (Mr Poole) after the town of Poole, which is situated next to Bournemouth. In Westbourne he named his house Skerryvore after the tallest lighthouse in Scotland, which his uncle Alan had built (1838–1844). In the wintertime Stevenson travelled to France and lived at Davos-Platz and the Chalet de Solitude at Hyères, where, for a time, he enjoyed almost complete happiness. "I have so many things to make life sweet for me," he wrote, "it seems a pity I cannot have that other one thing—health. But though you will be angry to hear it, I believe, for myself at least, what is is best. I believed it all through my worst days, and I am not ashamed to profess it now." In spite of his ill health, he produced the bulk of his best-known work during these years: Treasure Island, his first widely popular book; Kidnapped; Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the story which established his wider reputation; The Black Arrow; and two volumes of verse, A Child's Garden of Verses and Underwoods. At Skerryvore he gave a copy of Kidnapped to his friend and frequent visitor Henry James.
When his father died in 1887, Stevenson felt free to follow the advice of his physician to try a complete change of climate, and he started with his mother and family for Colorado. But after landing in New York, they decided to spend the winter at Saranac Lake, New York, in the Adirondacks at a cure cottage now known as Stevenson Cottage. During the intensely cold winter Stevenson wrote some of his best essays, including Pulvis et Umbra, began The Master of Ballantrae, and lightheartedly planned, for the following summer, a cruise to the southern Pacific Ocean. "The proudest moments of my life," he wrote, "have been passed in the stern-sheets of a boat with that romantic garment over my shoulders."
Much like his father, Stevenson remained a staunch Tory for most of his life. His cousin and biographer, Sir Graham Balfour, said that "he probably throughout life would, if compelled to vote, have always supported the Conservative candidate." In 1866, Stevenson voted for Benjamin Disraeli, future Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, over Thomas Carlyle, for the role of Lord Rectorship of the University of Edinburgh. During his college years he briefly identified himself as a "red-hot socialist". By 1877, at only twenty-six years of age and before having written most of his major fictional works, Stevenson reflected: "For my part, I look back to the time when I was a Socialist with something like regret. I have convinced myself (for the moment) that we had better leave these great changes to what we call great blind forces: their blindness being so much more perspicacious than the little, peering, partial eyesight of men [...] Now I know that in thus turning Conservative with years, I am going through the normal cycle of change and travelling in the common orbit of men's opinions. I submit to this, as I would submit to gout or gray hair, as a concomitant of growing age or else of failing animal heat; but I do not acknowledge that it is necessarily a change for the better—I dare say it is deplorably for the worse."
Journey to the Pacific
In June 1888 Stevenson chartered the yacht Casco and set sail with his family from San Francisco. The vessel "plowed her path of snow across the empty deep, far from all track of commerce, far from any hand of help." The sea air and thrill of adventure for a time restored his health, and for nearly three years he wandered the eastern and central Pacific, stopping for extended stays at the Hawaiian Islands, where he spent much time with and became a good friend of King Kalākaua. He befriended the king's niece, Princess Victoria Kaiulani, who also had a link to Scottish heritage. He spent time at the Gilbert Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Samoan Islands. During this period he completed The Master of Ballantrae, composed two ballads based on the legends of the islanders, and wrote The Bottle Imp. He witnessed the Samoan crisis. He preserved the experience of these years in his various letters and in his In the South Seas (which was published posthumously), an account of the 1888 cruise which Stevenson and Fanny undertook on the Casco from the Hawaiian Islands to the Marquesas and Tuamotu islands. An 1889 voyage, this time with Lloyd, on the trading schooner Equator, visiting Butaritari, Mariki, Apaiang and Abemama in the Gilbert Islands, (also known as the Kingsmills) now Kiribati. During the 1889 voyage they spent several months on Abemama with the tyrant-chief Tem Binoka, of Abemama, Aranuka and Kuria. Stevenson extensively described Binoka in In the South Seas.
One particular open letter from this period stands as testimony to his activism and indignation at the pettiness of the "powers that be", in the person of a Presbyterian minister in Honolulu named Rev. Dr. Charles McEwen Hyde. During his time in the Hawaiian Islands, Stevenson had visited Molokai and the leper colony there, shortly after the demise of Father Damien. When Dr. Hyde wrote a letter to a fellow clergyman speaking ill of Father Damien, Stevenson wrote a scathing open letter of rebuke to Dr. Hyde. Soon afterwards, in April 1890, Stevenson left Sydney on the Janet Nicoll for his third and final voyage among the South Seas islands.
While Stevenson intended to write another book of travel writing to follow his earlier book In the South Seas, it was his wife who eventually published her journal of their third voyage. (Fanny misnames the ship as the Janet Nicol in her account of the 1890 voyage, The Cruise of the Janet Nichol.) A fellow passenger was Jack Buckland, whose stories of life as an island trader became the inspiration for the character of Tommy Hadden in The Wrecker (1892), which Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne wrote together. Buckland visited the Stevensons at Vailima in 1894.
In 1890 Stevenson purchased a tract of about 400 acres (1.6 km²) in Upolu, an island in Samoa. Here, after two aborted attempts to visit Scotland, he established himself, after much work, upon his estate in the village of Vailima. He took the native name Tusitala (Samoan for "Teller of Tales", i.e. a storyteller). His influence spread to the Samoans, who consulted him for advice, and he soon became involved in local politics. He was convinced the European officials appointed to rule the Samoans were incompetent, and after many futile attempts to resolve the matter, he published A Footnote to History. This was such a stinging protest against existing conditions that it resulted in the recall of two officials, and Stevenson feared for a time it would result in his own deportation. When things had finally blown over he wrote to Colvin, who came from a family of distinguished colonial administrators, "I used to think meanly of the plumber; but how he shines beside the politician!"
The Stevensons were on friendly terms with some of the colonial leaders and their families. At one point he formally donated, by deed of gift, his birthday to the daughter of the American Land Commissioner Henry Clay Ide, since she was born on Christmas Day and had no birthday celebration separate from the family's Christmas celebrations. This led to a strong bond between the Stevenson and Ide families.
In addition to building his house and clearing his land and helping the Samoans in many ways, he found time to work at his writing. He felt that "there was never any man had so many irons in the fire". He wrote The Beach of Falesa, Catriona (titled David Balfour in the US), The Ebb-Tide, and the Vailima Letters during this period.
Stevenson grew depressed and wondered if he had exhausted his creative vein as he had been "overworked bitterly". He felt that with each fresh attempt, the best he could write was "ditch-water". He even feared that he might again become a helpless invalid. He rebelled against this idea: "I wish to die in my boots; no more Land of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be thrown from a horse — ay, to be hanged, rather than pass again through that slow dissolution." He then suddenly had a return of his old energy and he began work on Weir of Hermiston. "It's so good that it frightens me," he is reported to have exclaimed. He felt that this was the best work he had done. He was convinced, "sick and well, I have had splendid life of it, grudge nothing, regret very little ... take it all over, damnation and all, would hardly change with any man of my time."
On 3 December 1894, Stevenson was talking to his wife and straining to open a bottle of wine when he suddenly exclaimed, "What's that!" asking his wife "Does my face look strange?" and collapsed. He died within a few hours, probably of a cerebral haemorrhage. He was forty-four years old. The Samoans insisted on surrounding his body with a watch-guard during the night and on bearing their Tusitala upon their shoulders to nearby Mount Vaea, where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea. Stevenson had always wanted his 'Requiem' inscribed on his tomb:
- Under the wide and starry sky,
- Dig the grave and let me lie.
- Glad did I live and gladly die,
- And I laid me down with a will.
- This be the verse you grave for me:
- Here he lies where he longed to be;
- Home is the sailor, home from sea,
- And the hunter home from the hill.
However, the piece is misquoted in many places, including his tomb:
- Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
- And the hunter home from the hill.
Stevenson was loved by the Samoans, and his tombstone epigraph was translated to a Samoan song of grief which is well-known and still sung in Samoa.
Half of Stevenson's original manuscripts are lost, including those of Treasure Island, The Black Arrow and The Master of Ballantrae. Stevenson's heirs sold Stevenson's papers during World War I; many Stevenson documents were auctioned off in 1918.
Besides playing the piano and flageolet, Stevenson wrote over 123 original musical compositions or arrangements, including solos, duets, trios and quartets for various combinations of flageolet, flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, mandolin, and piano. His works include ten songs written to his own poetry and with original or arranged melodies. In 1968 Robert Hughes arranged a number of Stevenson's works for chamber orchestra, which toured the Pacific Northwest that year.
Stevenson was a celebrity in his own time, but with the rise of  Throughout the vicissitudes of his scholarly reception, Stevenson has remained popular worldwide. According to the Index Translationum, Stevenson is ranked the 26th most translated author in the world, ahead of fellow nineteenth-century writers Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.
Monuments and commemoration
A bronze relief memorial to Stevenson, designed by the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1904, is mounted in the Moray Aisle of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. Saint-Gaudens' scaled-down version of this relief is in the collection of the Montclair Art Museum. Another small version depicting Stevenson with a cigarette in his hand rather than the pen he holds in the St. Giles memorial is displayed in the Nichols House Museum in Beacon Hill, Boston.
Another memorial in Edinburgh stands in West Princes Street Gardens below Edinburgh Castle; it is a simple upright stone inscribed with "RLS – A Man of Letters 1850–1894" by sculptor Iain Hamilton Finlay in 1987. In 2013, a statue of Stevenson as a child with his dog was unveiled by the author Ian Rankin outside Colinton Parish Church. The sculptor of the statue was Alan Herriot, and the money to erect it was raised by the Colinton Community Conservation Trust.
A plaque above the door of a house in Castleton of Braemar states "Here R.L. Stevenson spent the Summer of 1881 and wrote Treasure Island, his first great work".
A garden was designed by the Bournemouth Corporation in 1957 as a memorial to Stevenson, on the site of his Westbourne house, "Skerryvore", which he occupied from 1885 to 1887. A statue of the Skerryvore lighthouse is present on the site.
In 1966, the Canadian actor Lloyd Bochner played Stevenson in the episode "Jolly Roger and Wells Fargo" of the syndicated American television series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor and directed by Denver Pyle.
In 1994, to mark the 100th anniversary of Stevenson's death, the Royal Bank of Scotland issued a series of commemorative £1 notes which featured a quill pen and Stevenson's signature on the obverse, and Stevenson's face on the reverse side. Alongside Stevenson's portrait are scenes from some of his books and his house in Western Samoa. Two million notes were issued, each with a serial number beginning "RLS". The first note to be printed was sent to Samoa in time for their centenary celebrations on 3 December 1994.
At least three US elementary schools are named after Stevenson, in the Upper West Side of New York City, in Fridley, Minnesota, and in Burbank, California. There is an R. L. Stevenson middle school in Honolulu, Hawaii. Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, was established in 1952 and still exists as a college preparatory boarding school. Robert Louis Stevenson State Park near Calistoga, California, contains the location where he and Fanny spent their honeymoon in 1880.
Photographic portrait, c. 1887
Stevenson paces in his dining room in an 1885 portrait by John Singer Sargent. His wife Fanny, seated in an Indian dress, is visible in the lower right corner.
Portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1887
Portrait by William Blake Richmond, 1886
Portrait by Girolamo Nerli, 1892
- The Hair Trunk or The Ideal Commonwealth (1877) Unfinished and unpublished. An annotated edition of the original manuscript, edited and introduced by Roger G. Swearingen, was published as The Hair Trunk or The Ideal Commonwealth: An Extravaganza in August 2014.
- Treasure Island (1883) His first major success, a tale of piracy, buried treasure, and adventure, has been filmed frequently. In an 1881 letter to W. E. Henley, he provided the earliest known title, "The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: a Story for Boys".
- Prince Otto (1885) Stevenson's third full-length narrative, an action romance set in the imaginary Germanic state of Grünewald.
- Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), a novella about a dual personality much depicted in plays and films, also influential in the growth of understanding of the subconscious mind through its treatment of a kind and intelligent physician who turns into a psychopathic monster after imbibing a drug intended to separate good from evil in a personality.
- Kidnapped (1886) is a historical novel that tells of the boy David Balfour's pursuit of his inheritance and his alliance with Alan Breck in the intrigues of Jacobite troubles in Scotland.
- The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (1888) An historical adventure novel and romance set during the Wars of the Roses.
- The Master of Ballantrae (1889), a masterful tale of revenge, set in Scotland, America, and India.
- The Wrong Box (1889); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne. A comic novel of a tontine, also filmed (1966).
- The Wrecker (1892); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne.
- Catriona (1893), also known as David Balfour, is a sequel to Kidnapped, telling of Balfour's further adventures.
- The Ebb-Tide (1894); co-written with Lloyd Osbourne.
- Weir of Hermiston (1896). Unfinished at the time of Stevenson's death, considered to have promised great artistic growth.
- St Ives: Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England (1897). Unfinished at the time of Stevenson's death, the novel was completed by Arthur Quiller-Couch.
Short story collections
- New Arabian Nights (1882)
- More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885); co-written with Fanny Van De Grift Stevenson
- The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables (1887); contains 6 stories.
- Island Nights' Entertainments (also known as South Sea Tales) (1893) contains three longer stories.
- Fables (1896) contains 20 stories: The persons of the tale, The sinking ship, The two matches, The sick man and the fireman, The devil and the innkeeper, The penitent, The yellow paint, The house of Eld, The four reformers, The man and his friend, The reader, The citizen and the traveller, The distinguished stranger, The carthorse and the saddlehorse, The tadpole and the frog, something in it, Faith, half faith and no faith at all, The touchstone, The poor thing, The song of the morrow.
- Tales and Fantasies, 1905, contains The Story of a Lie,The Body Snatcher,The Misadventures of John Nicholson.
Short storiesList of short stories sorted chronologically. Note: does not include collaborations with Fanny found in More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter.
|"When the Devil was Well"||1875||1921, Boston Bibliophile Society|
|"An Old Song"||1875||Uncollected||Stevenson's first Published Fiction, in London, 1877. Anonymous. Republished in 1982 by R. Swearingen.|
|"Edifying Letters of the Rutherford Family"||1877||Unfinished, uncollected.||Not truly a short-story. First published in 1982 by R. Swearingen.|
|"Will O' the Mill"||1877||The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in the Cornhill Magazine, 1878|
|"A Lodging for the Night"||1877||New Arabian Nights (1882)||First published in Temple Bar in 1877|
|"The Sire De Malétroits Door"||1877||New Arabian Nights, 1882||First published in Temple Bar in 1878|
|"Later-day Arabian Nights"||1878||New Arabian Nights, 1882||First published in London in 1878. Seven interconnected stories in two cycles: The Suicide Club (3 stories) and The Rajah's Diamond (4 stories).|
|"Providence and the Guitar"||1878||New Arabian Nights, 1882||First published in London in 1878|
|"The Story of a Lie"||1879||The Novels and Tales of Robert Louis Stevenson, vol 3, 1895||First published in New Quarterly Magazine in 1879.|
|"The Pavilion on the Links"||1880||With a few suppressions in New Arabian Nights, 1882||First Published in the Cornhill Magazine in 1880. Told in 9 mini-chapters. Conan Doyle in 1890 called it the first English short story.|
|"Thrawn Janet"||1881||The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in the Cornhill Magazine, 1881|
|"The Body Snatcher"||1881||Edinburgh Edition, 1895||First published in the Christmas 1884 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette.|
|"The Merry Men"||1882||With changes in The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in the Cornhill Magazine in 1882.|
|"The Treasure of Franchard"||1883||The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in Longman's Magazine, 1883|
|"Markheim"||1884||The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in the Broken Shaft. Unwin's Annual., 1885|
|"Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"||1885||1886||Variously referred to as a short story or novella, or more rarely, a short novel.|
|"Olalla"||1885||The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887||First published in the Court and Society Review, 1885|
|"The Misadventures of John Nicholson: A Christmas Story"||1885–87||Edinburgh Edition, 1897||First published in Yule Tide, 1887|
|"The Bottle Imp"||1891||Island Nights' Entertainments (1893)||First published in Black and White, 1891|
|"The Beach of Falesá"||1892||Island Nights' Entertainments (1893)||First published in The Illustrated London News in 1892|
|"The Isle of Voices"||1892||Island Nights' Entertainments (1893)||First published in National Observer, 1883|
|"The Waif Woman"||1892||1914||First published in the Scribner's Magazine, 1914|
- "Béranger, Pierre Jean de", article for the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1875–89)
- Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes (1879)
- Virginibus Puerisque, and Other Papers (1881), contains the essays Virginibus Puerisque i (1876); Virginibus Puerisque ii (1881); Virginibus Puerisque iii: On Falling in Love (1877); Virginibus Puerisque iv: The Truth of Intercourse (1879); Crabbed Age and Youth (1878); An Apology for Idlers (1877); Ordered South (1874); Aes Triplex (1878); El Dorado (1878); The English Admirals (1878); Some Portraits by Raeburn (previously unpublished); Child’s Play (1878); Walking Tours (1876); Pan’s Pipes (1878); A Plea for Gas Lamps (1878).
- Familiar Studies of Men and Books (1882) containing Preface, by Way of Criticism (not previously published); Victor Hugo’s Romances (1874); Some Aspects of Robert Burns (1879); The Gospel According to Walt Whitman (1878); Henry David Thoreau: His Character and Opinions (1880); Yoshida-Torajiro (1880); François Villon, Student, Poet, Housebreaker (1877); Charles of Orleans (1876); Samuel Pepys (1881); John Knox and his Relations to Women (1875).
- Memories and Portraits (1887), a collection of essays.
- On the Choice of a Profession (1887)
- Father Damien: an Open Letter to the Rev. Dr. Hyde of Honolulu (1890)
- Vailima Letters (1895)
- The New Lighthouse on the Dhu Heartach Rock, Argyllshire (1995). Based on an 1872 manuscript edited by R. G. Swearingen. California. Silverado Museum.
- Sophia Scarlet (2008). Based on 1892 manuscript edited by Robert Hoskins. AUT Media (AUT University).
- A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), written for children but also popular with their parents. Includes such favourites as "My Shadow" and "The Lamplighter". Often thought to represent a positive reflection of the author's sickly childhood.
- Underwoods (1887), a collection of poetry written in both English and Scots.
- Ballads (1891), included Ticonderoga: A Legend of the West Highlands (1887). Based on a famous Scottish ghost story.
- Songs of Travel and Other Verses (1896)
- Poems Hitherto Unpublished, 3 vol. 1916, 1916, 1921, Boston Bibliophile Society, republished in New Poems
- An Inland Voyage (1878), travels with a friend in a Rob Roy canoe from Antwerp (Belgium) to Pontoise, just north of Paris.
- Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), two weeks' solo ramble (with Modestine as his beast of burden) in the mountains of Cévennes (south-central France), one of the first books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities. It tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.
- The Silverado Squatters (1883). An unconventional honeymoon trip to an abandoned mining camp in Napa Valley with his new wife Fanny and her son Lloyd. He presciently identifies the California wine industry as one to be reckoned with.
- Across the Plains (written in 1879–80, published in 1892). Second leg of his journey, by train from New York to California (then picks up with The Silverado Squatters). Also includes other travel essays.
- The Amateur Emigrant (written 1879–80, published 1895). An account of the first leg of his journey to California, by ship from Europe to New York. Andrew Noble (From the Clyde to California: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Emigrant Journey, 1985) considers it to be his finest work.
- The Old and New Pacific Capitals (1882). An account of his stay in Monterey, California in August to December 1879. Never published separately. See, for example, James D. Hart, ed., From Scotland to Silverado, 1966.
- Essays of Travel (London: Chatto & Windus, 1905)
Although not well known, his island fiction and non-fiction is among the most valuable and collected of the 19th century body of work that addresses the Pacific area.
- In the South Seas (1896). A collection of Stevenson's articles and essays on his travels in the Pacific.
- A Footnote to History, Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa (1892).
- Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
- Victorian literature
- Salvation Army Waiʻoli Tea Room (Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Grass House on premises)
- Writers' Museum
- See the Index Translationum.
- Mehew (2004). The spelling "Lewis" is said to have been rejected because his father violently disliked another person of the same name, and the new spelling was not accompanied by a change of pronunciation: Balfour (1901) I, 29 n. 1
- Furnas (1952), 23–4; Mehew (2004)
- Paxton (2004)
- Balfour (1901), 10–12; Furnas (1952), 24; Mehew (2004)
- Memories and Portraits (1887), Chapter VII. The Manse
- Furnas (1952), 25–8; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 28–32; Mehew (2004)
- Available at Bartleby and elsewhere.
- Furnas (1952), 29; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 34–6; Mehew (2004). Alison Cunningham's recollection of Stevenson balances the picture of an oversensitive child, "like other bairns, whiles very naughty": Furnas (1952), 30
- Mehew (2004)
- Balfour (1901) I, 67; Furnas (1952), pp. 43–5
- Stephenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894) – Childhood and schooling. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved: 1 August 2013.
- Furnas (1952), 51–54, 60–62; Mehew (2004)
- Balfour (1901) I, 86–8; 90–4; Furnas (1952), 64–9
- Balfour (1901) I, 70–2; Furnas (1952), 48–9; Mehew (2004)
- Balfour (1901) I, 85–6
- Underwoods (1887), Poem XXXVIII
- Furnas (1952), 69–70; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 53–7; Mehew (2004.
- Furnas (1952), 69 with n. 15 (on the club); 72–6
- Furnas (1952), 81–2; 85–9; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 84–5
- Furnas (1952), 95; 101
- Balfour (1901) I, 123-4; Furnas (1952) 105–6; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 89–95
- Balfour (1901) I, 128–37
- Furnas (1952), 100–1
- Author of the influential 1887 book The Art of Golf
- Balfour (1901) I, 127
- Furnas (1952), 122–9; Mehew (2004)
- Balfour (1901) I, 145–6; Mehew (2004)
- Furnas (1952), 130–6; Mehew (2004)
- Balfour (1901) I, 164–5; Furnas (1952), 142–6; Mehew (2004)
- Letter to Sidney Colvin, January 1880, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter IV
- "To Edmund Gosse, Monterey, Monterey Co., California, 8 October 1879," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter IV
- "To P. G. Hamerton, Kinnaird Cottage, Pitlochry [July 1881]," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V
- Isobel by this time was married, to artist Joseph Strong.
- The physician who treated Stevenson there was Dr. Carl Rüedi.
- "To Sidney Colvin, Pitlochry, August 1881," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V
- References to Skerryvore come from Leon Edel's Henry James: A Life, c. 1985, pp. 309–310
- "To W.E. Henley, Pitlochry, if you please, [August] 1881," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter V
- Reginald Charles Terry (1996). "Robert Louis Stevenson: Interviews and Recollections". p. 49. University of Iowa Press,
- Quoted from Stevenson's diary in Overton, Jacqueline M. The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson for Boys and Girls. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933
- In the South Seas (1896) & (1900) Chatto & Windus; republished by The Hogarth Press (1987). A collection of Stevenson's articles and essays on his travels in the Pacific
- In the South Seas (1896)& (1900) Chatto & Windus; republished by The Hogarth Press (1987)
- The Cruise of the Janet Nichol Among the South Sea Islands, Mrs Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1914
- The Cruise of the Janet Nichol among the South Sea Islands A Diary by Mrs Robert Louis Stevenson (first published 1914), republished 2004, editor, Roslyn Jolly (U. of Washington Press/U. of New South Wales Press)
- Hadden is described as being based upon Jack Buckland ('Tin Jack') a well-known remittance man and copra trader in Sydney. Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Ernest Mehew (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2001) p. 418, n. 3
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wrecker, in Tales of the South Seas: Island Landfalls; The Ebb-Tide; The Wrecker (Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 1996), ed. and introduced by Jenni Calder
- 'Memories of Vailima' by Isobel Strong & Lloyd Osbourne, Archibald Constable & Co: Westminster (1903)
- Letter to Sidney Colvin, 17 April 1893, Vailima Letters, Chapter XXVIII
- Letter to Sidney Colvin, 3 January 1892, Vailima Letters, Chapter XIV.
- Letter to Sidney Colvin, December 1893, Vailima Letters, Chapter XXXV
- "To W.E. Henley, [Trinity College, Cambridge, Autumn 1878]," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 1, Chapter III
- Letter to Sidney Colvin, May 1892, Vailima Letters, Chapter XVIII
- "To H. B. Baildon, Vailima, Upolu [undated, but written in 1891].," The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 2, Chapter XI
- Balfour, Graham (1906). The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson London: Methuen. 264
- Stephen Arata (2006). "Robert Louis Stevenson". David Scott Kastan (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Vol. 5: 99–102
- introduction to 1965 Everyman's Library edition of the one-volume The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau
- [188.8.131.52:8081/view/objects/asitem/45/97/primaryMaker-asc?t:state:flow=92095637-f394-4ee3-9846-f82e8985400e Saint-Gaudens, Augustus (American, 1848–1907): Robert Louis Stevenson, 1887–88 (cast after 1895)], accessed 26 February 2015
- [ Petronella, Mary Melvin, ed., Victorian Boston Today: Twelve Walking Tours (Lebanon, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2004), p. 107.
- (27 October 2013) Robert Louis Stevenson statue unveiled by Ian Rankin BBC News Scotland, Retrieved 27 October 2013
- "R. L. Stevenson Elementary School". Fridley Public Schools. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- "R. L. Stevenson Elementary", Burbank Unified School District. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- "Robert Louis Stevenson SP". California Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- "Doodles Archive: November 13, 2010". Google. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales, Robert Louis Stevenson. Oxford World's Classics.
- Graham Balfour, The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, London: Methuen, 1901
- John Jay Chapman "Robert Louis Stevenson", Emerson, and Other Essays. New York: AMS Press, 1969, ISBN 0-404-00619-1 (reprinted from the edition of 1899)
- David Daiches, "Robert Louis Stevenson and his World", London: Thames and Hudson, 1973, ISBN 0-500-13045-0
- J. C. Furnas, Voyage to Windward: The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson, London: Faber and Faber, 1952
- Claire Harman, Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-711321-8 [reviewed by Matthew Sturgis in The Times Literary Supplement, 11 March 2005, page 8]
- James Pope-Hennessy, Robert Louis Stevenson – A Biography, London: Cape, 1974, ISBN 0-224-01007-7
- Rosaline Masson, Robert Louis Stevenson. London: The People's Books, 1912
- Rosaline Masson, The life of Robert Louis Stevenson. Edinburgh & London: W. & R. Chambers, 1923
- Rosaline Masson (editor), I can remember Robert Louis Stevenson. Edinburgh & London: W. & R. Chambers, 1923
- Ernest Mehew, "Robert Louis Stevenson", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004. Retrieved 29 September 2008
- Roland Paxton, "Stevenson, Thomas (1818–1887)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: OUP, 2004. Retrieved 11 October 2008
- Eve Blantyre Simpson, Robert Louis Stevenson's Edinburgh Days, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1898
- Eve Blantyre Simpson, The Robert Louis Stevenson Originals, [With illustrations and facsimiles], London& Edinburgh: T.N. Foulis, 1912
Library resources about
Robert Louis Stevenson
- Works by Robert Louis Stevenson at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Robert Louis Stevenson at Internet Archive
- Works by Robert Louis Stevenson at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Early works including books, collected and uncollected essays and serialisations from National Library of Scotland
- Works by Robert Louis Stevenson, at the Online Books Page (plain text and HTML)
- 151 poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, at Poetry Archive
- "Henry David Thoreau: His Character and Opinions", by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Fables, by Robert Louis Stevenson, at The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center.
- Works by Robert Louis Stevenson in PDF at Ria Press.
- The Music of Robert Louis Stevenson
- There are over 200 published biographies of RLS
- Robert Louis Stevenson: a record, an estimate, and a memorial, by Alexander H. Japp
- Robert Louis Stevenson, a biography by Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh
- Robert Louis Stevenson, biography from the Dictionary of Literary Biography, 1987
- The Robert Louis Stevenson Website at Edinburgh Napier University
- Journal of Stevenson Studies
- Robert Louis Stevenson trail GR70
- Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, St. Helena, California (devoted to Robert Louis Stevenson)
- Robert Louis Stevenson at the Internet Movie Database