was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson in Edinburgh,
Scotland, the son of Thomas Stevenson and grandson of Robert
Stevenson, both successful lighthouse engineers, and Margaret
Balfour. He studied at Edinburgh Academy in his youth. His
parents were both very religious. Robert gave up the
religion of his parents while studying at Edinburgh University,
but the teaching that he received as a child continued to
Although ill with
tuberculosis from childhood, Stevenson had a full
life. He began his education as an engineer but, despite his
history, he showed little aptitude and soon switched to studying
the age of 18 he dropped the name Balfour and changed his middle
from Lewis to Louis (but retaining the original pronunciation);
this time on he began styling himself "RLS." He
turned to the law
because of poor health, but he never practiced. He ended his
life as a
tribal leader (called by his tribe Tusitala, meaning
Samoan) and plantation owner at his residence "Vailima"
in Samoa, all
this in addition to his literary career.
novels of adventure, romance, and horror are of
considerable psychological depth and have continued in popularity
after his death, both as books and as films.
on Mt Vaea, Samoa. His wife Fanny, whom he married in 1880,
was a great support in his adventurous and arduous life.
several trips to the Kingdom of Hawaii and became a good friend of
King David Kalakaua with whom Stevenson spent much time.
Stevenson also became best friends with the king's niece Princess
Victoria Kaiulani, also of Scottish heritage. Since the
tragic deaths of
both Stevenson and Kaiulani, historians have debated the true
their relationship as to whether or not they had romantic feelings
each other. Because of the age difference, such stories have
often been discredited. In 1888, Stevenson traveled to the
island of Molokai just weeks after the death of Father
Damien. He spent twelve days at the missionary priest's
residence, Bishop Home at Kalawao. Stevenson taught the
local girls to play croquet. When Congregationalist and
Presbyterian ministers began to incite slander against Father
Damien out of spite for his Catholicism, Stevenson wrote one of
his most famous essays in defense of the life and work of the
Stevenson died of
a brain (cerebral) hemorrhage in Vailima in Samoa,
aged 44. In his will, he bequeathed his birthday to a little
had been born on Christmas Day.