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Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. Stevenson has been greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Marcel Schwob, 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".

Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850, to Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife, the former Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897). Lighthouse design was the family profession: Thomas's own father was the famous Robert Stevenson, and his maternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, and brothers Alan and David were also among those in the business. On Margaret's side, the family were gentry, tracing their name back to an Alexander Balfour, who held the lands of Inchrye in Fife in the fifteenth century. Her father, Lewis Balfour (1777–1860), was a minister of the Church of Scotland at nearby Colinton, and Stevenson spent the greater part of his boyhood holidays in his house. "Now I often wonder", says 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."

Both Balfour and his daughter had a "weak chest" and 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 and chilly house at 1 Inverleith Terrace in 1853. The family moved again to the sunnier 17 Heriot Row when Stevenson was six, 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 incredibly strict. 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 poem "The Land of Counterpane" in A Child's Garden of Verses (1885) and dedicated 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 six, a pattern repeated at eleven, when he went on to the Edinburgh Academy; but he mixed well in lively games with his cousins in summer holidays at the Colinton manse. In any case, his frequent illnesses often kept him away from his first school, and he was taught for long stretches by private tutors. He was a late reader, first learning at seven or eight; but even before this he dictated stories to his mother and nurse. Throughout his childhood he was compulsively writing stories. His father was proud of this interest: he had himself 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, published on its two hundredth anniversary, The Pentland Rising: a Page of History, 1666 (1866).

 

Early writing and travels:

In late 1873, on a visit to a cousin in England, Stevenson made two new friendships that were to be of great importance to him, Sidney Colvin and Fanny (Frances Jane) Sitwell. Sitwell was a woman of thirty four, with a young son, separated from her husband. She attracted the devotion of many who met her, including Colvin, who eventually married her in 1901. Stevenson was another of those 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 his letters. Soon after their first meeting he had placed Stevenson's first paid contribution, an essay, "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 Henley. Henley, an energetic and talkative man with a wooden leg, became a close friend and occasional literary collaborator for many years, until in 1888 a quarrel broke up the friendship. He is often seen as providing a partial model for the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island.

In November 1873, Stevenson had a physical collapse and was sent for his health to Menton on the French Riviera. He returned in better health in April 1874, and settled down to his studies, but he would often return to France in the coming years. He made long and frequent trips to the neighbourhood of the Forest of Fontainebleau, staying at Barbizon, Grez-sur-Loing and Nemours, 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 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).

Novels

  • Treasure Island (1883) His first major success, a tale of piracy, buried treasure, and adventure, has been filmed frequently. He originally entitled it The Sea Cook but an editor changed it.
  • The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (1883) An historical adventure novel and romance set during the Wars of the Roses.
  • 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 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)
  • Island Nights' Entertainments (also known as South Sea Tales) (1893)
  • Fables (1896)

Short stories

List of short stories sorted chronologically. Note: does not include collaborations with Fanny found in More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter.

 

Selection from our Robert Louis Stevenson Store:

Treasure IslandTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $19.79 / Used from: $0.44
The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (Scribner's Illustrated Classics)The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (Scribner's Illustrated Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy used from: $6.00
Kidnapped (Scribner's Illustrated Classics)Kidnapped (Scribner's Illustrated Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy used from: $0.01
David Balfour: Being Memoirs of the Further Adventures of David Balfour at Home and Abroad (Scribner's Illustrated Classics)David Balfour: Being Memoirs of the Further Adventures of David Balfour at Home and Abroad (Scribner's Illustrated Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy used from: $11.97
The Master of Ballantrae and Weir of Hermiston (Everyman's Library (Cloth))The Master of Ballantrae and Weir of Hermiston (Everyman's Library (Cloth)) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $13.26 / Used from: $6.00
The Wrong Box (Dodo Press)The Wrong Box (Dodo Press) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $16.99 / Used from: $10.95
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSESA CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy used from: $166.90
Selected Letters of Robert Louis StevensonSelected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $19.95 / Used from: $0.01
South Sea Tales (Oxford World's Classics)South Sea Tales (Oxford World's Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $14.95 / Used from: $3.95
The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Nineteen Other Tales (Modern Library Classics)The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Nineteen Other Tales (Modern Library Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $12.89 / Used from: $6.41
The Collected Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson (Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson)The Collected Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson (Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson)
Buy new: $37.50 / Used from: $19.89
The Complete Short Stories Of Robert Louis Stevenson: With A Selection Of The Best Short NovelsThe Complete Short Stories Of Robert Louis Stevenson: With A Selection Of The Best Short Novels by Charles Neider
Buy new: $17.87 / Used from: $3.99
Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes and Selected Travel Writings (World's Classics)Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes and Selected Travel Writings (World's Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy used from: $0.92
The Silverado SquattersThe Silverado Squatters by Robert, Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $10.95 / Used from: $4.55
Virginibus Puerisque and Other PapersVirginibus Puerisque and Other Papers by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $32.50 / Used from: $32.14
Essays of Robert Louis StevensonEssays of Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $17.99 / Used from: $19.95
Essays in the Art of WritingEssays in the Art of Writing by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $25.95 / Used from: $30.10
The Lantern-Bearers and Other EssaysThe Lantern-Bearers and Other Essays by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $16.95 / Used from: $0.01
A Familiar Study Of Men And BooksA Familiar Study Of Men And Books by R. L. Stevenson
Buy new: $14.95 / Used from: $15.40
Stevenson's Scotland (Mercat Press)Stevenson's Scotland (Mercat Press) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $16.95 / Used from: $2.50
In the South Seas (Penguin Classics)In the South Seas (Penguin Classics) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $12.48 / Used from: $6.99
Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in SamoaFootnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $19.95 / Used from: $14.98
The Wisdom of Robert Louis Stevenson: Collected and Arranged from His WritingsThe Wisdom of Robert Louis Stevenson: Collected and Arranged from His Writings by Robert Louis Stevenson
Buy new: $22.95 / Used from: $18.98

 NEW MUSKETEER NOVEL NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY!

CLICK HERE for Plot Details, and to Read the Introduction and First Three Chapters!

 AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM VARIOUS ONLINE BOOKSTORES, INCLUDING Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million & GoHastings.com

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Product Details (From Amazon.com)

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449913172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449913175
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

 

READ WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT DONAREE:

"Nicely done. I really enjoyed the history in the introduction and the duel is well written. Best of luck with the novel!" ~ Author David Lee Summers, author of five books: Vampires of the Scarlet Order, The Solar Sea, and the "Old Star" science fiction series: The Pirates of Sufiro, Children of the Old Stars, and Heirs of the New Earth. www.davidleesummers.com

"Very exciting read! Felt like I was there witnessing the action!" ~ Candle Artist Jfay,
www.studio3bonline.com

"I really enjoyed the humour and really laughed, not at Monsieur de la Donaree but with Monsieur de la Donaree! I dont know if you wrote it in this spirit but if you had a bit of Molière in you, I would not be surprised! He knew how to study people and would turn situations into a comic play! I laughed out loud, this is a gem! Not only de la Donaree is a fine sword, he has also a fine nose when it comes to pinpoint personalities, I'm talking about the Inkeeper and his situation with the wife here!! The second part is indeed in pure swashbuckling spirit, in rhythm and enthusiasm! And the end is a cliff-hanger! The beginning is "cocasse" (funny) as they might have said then in Gascony, and witty! Indeed Alexandre Dumas had a sense of humour too and satirically created at least one of his character ( in another book) to a character made up by Molière in one of his comic play. And Molière also took his inspiration from Dumas' s Musketeers and "The Man in the Iron Mask." I liked it! I had fun while reading this chapter about Monsieur de la Donaree, as while following the spirit of the Musketeers you gave a contemporary touch to the text!" ~ Artist Nicole Marques,
www.myspace.com/nicolemarques

"Hurrah, Ted! I gleefully await the next installment! LOVE the romantic stuff! Bring it on! There are few things in this world I like better than a hot Viscount. Keep going, Ted! Bravo! Keep writing! I can't wait to read more! But it is par for the course as I am also a writer. Keep in touch!" ~ Author Genella de Grey, author of "Remember Me."
www.genelladegrey.com

"Wow - What a wonderful beginning. As a whole, you have a unique way of writing & you captivated me by a few sentences peaking my interest to continue. For instance: ...hazed by the early morning mist...I love it! I look forward to reading the next chapter. You've gained my interest. That was impresive & informative. You've still got the hook in & I'm dangling to hear more. Thanks for the sneak peak." ~ Aspiring Author R.F.Taylor: Rianna

"Well done. Chapter One entices the reader craving more. I will look for The Adventures of Monsieur de La Donaree the Musketeer on the web. Keep up the excellent writing..." ~
Ferf