Robert Louis Stevenson

Early Life

Robert Louis Stevenson was born on the 13th of November in 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland, His parents were Thomas Stevenson, a leading lighthouse engineer, and Margaret Isabella, daughter of a church minister. Stevenson was a sickly child and his mother was also often unwell. Therefore, he spent much of his childhood with his family nanny, Alison Cunningham. She was very kind to him and often narrated to him old gothic stories and tales of supernatural creatures, which later he fictionalized in his works such as Thrawn Janet and The Merry Men.


Robert Louis Stevenson had a difficult childhood due to chronic health problems. He started his schooling at the age of seven. Unfortunately, his deteriorating health and his father’s doubts about the value of formal education did not allow him to perform well at school. Later, following his father’s footsteps, he attended Edinburgh University to become a civil engineer. He was not interested in studying science; instead, his interest grew in French literature, Scottish history, and the great writings of Spencer and Darwin. While at university, he trained himself for writing and copy styles of the great authors including Daniel Defoe and William Hazlitt.


After providing prodigious literary works, Robert’s health started to decline in the 1880s. He suffered from hemorrhaging lungs and was confined to the bed. However, he did not let his writing passion suffer a decline and produced some of his great works even while he was bedridden including Kidnapped and Strange Case of Mr. Hyde and The Black Arrow. Unfortunately, this great man breathed his last on the 3rd of December in 1894.

Some Important Facts of His Life

  1. The Writers’ Museum near Edinburgh contains some of his valuable possessions.
  2. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in California contained almost 11,000 artifacts and objects of this great writer.
  3. A bronze relief memorial to Stevenson is mounted in Edinburgh.

His Career

Robert Louis Stevenson, an iconic literary figure, started writing at a young age and earned unprecedented success during his life. A man with high ambitions, Stevenson entered into the world of writing while studying at Edinburgh University, where his initial writings got published. Later, his visits to various countries set grounds for his writing output. He detailed his traveling adventures in his works, The Amateur Emigrant, published in 1895 and, Across the Plains, published in 1892. Although his writings were warmly received by the audience, yet he earned a promising fortune with the publication of Treasure Island, which started as a serial in 1881. His other notable works include Virginibus Puerisque, “Thrawn Janet”, “The Merry Men,” Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Master of Ballantrae.

His Style

Robert Louis Stevenson enjoyed a successful literary life. His travel experiences, literary passions, and the early readings played a significant role in his entire career. He gained immense popularity on account of his thoughtful ideas and catchy writing techniques that inspired and spellbound generations. The major elements of his style include the use of rhythm of the phrase, plain language, and communicative words. For instance, his much-appreciated work, Treasure Island, provides his readers with realistic and exciting adventures in a chatty and exotic style. Regarding literary devices, he often turns to symbolism, imagery, sound devices, and metaphors, while recurring themes in most of his writings are the adventure, politics, human nature, lies and deceit, and violence.

Some Important Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Best Novels: Some of his best novels include Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Prince Otto, and The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses,
  • Other Works: Besides writing novels, he tried his hands on other genres, too. Some of them include A Child’s Garden of Verses, Songs of Travel and Other Verses, An Inland Voyage, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, The Merry Men and Other Tales, and Island Nights’ Entertainments.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Impact on Future Literature

Robert Louis Stevenson’s unique writing style and literary style brought praiseworthy changes in global literature. His distinctive writing approach and unique expression made him stand amongst the best historical fiction writer of his time. The giants like Hemingway, Borges, Kipling, and Chesterton, too, fell for his seductive technique of writing. He expressed his feelings and ideas in his works so well that even today writers follow his style to create prose and poetry.

Important Quotes

  1. “I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.” (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  2. “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.” (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  3. “There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.” (Kidnapped)
  4. “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.” (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  5. “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 long’d to be;
    Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
    And the hunter home from the hill.” (From Selected Poems)