Thursday, November 13, 2008


It's the birthday of Robert Louis Stevenson, (books by this author) born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1850). He was a sickly, moderately successful essayist and travel writer, living in France, when he fell in love with a woman after one look at her. The woman was Fanny Osbourne, an American, and she was unhappily married. After a few months in Europe, she returned to California, and Stevenson decided to drop everything and go persuade her to divorce her husband and marry him. He collapsed on Fanny Osbourne's doorstep. She divorced her husband, and they got married and moved back to Scotland.
One rainy summer afternoon, Stevenson painted a map of an imaginary island to entertain his new stepson, and in a single month, he wrote his first great novel, Treasure Island (1883). It's been in print for 125 years.
Around the time that Treasure Island was published, Stevenson woke up one morning and told his family that he did not want to be disturbed until he had finished writing a story that had come to him in a dream. It took him three days to write it, and then he did some editing, and by the end of the week he was happy with the result, which he called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1885). It's about a scientist who invents a chemical that changes his personality from a mild-mannered gentleman to a savage criminal.
Those two books made Stevenson rich and famous. He spent the rest of his life traveling from one place to the next, and he finally settled on the island of Samoa. He died from a stroke at the age of 44.

4 comments:

bnicholson said...

I remember hiking in Napa at the
Robert Lewis Stevenson Memorial Park. It was on the side of Mount St. Helena, I think just past the little town of Calistoga.

I've seen the historical monument marking the abandoned miner's shack where Robert Louis Stevenson once spent seven weeks recovering from tuberculosis. He and his new bride, Fanny Osbourne, honeymooned here in 1880 while Stevenson regained his health. He documented their stay in The Silverado Squatters, a pleasant description of their adventures and domestic life.

For a neat trail description which includes remarks about Stevenson, check out this site as well:
http://www.greenbelt.org/getinvolved/wondersandwanders/sthelena/

For beautiful photos that will show you what it is like there, look at:
http://www.inn-california.com/sanfrancisco/Napa/rlstevenson/memorial.html

This is one of my favorite hikes, this area has a lot of hot springs, so after hiking we could go to the public pool in Calistoga and have fun going from one cool pool to a warmer one...all naturally thermal, but one really hot for the last plunge. (You have to do it in stages, there are three pools.)

bnicholson said...

Oops, it cut off the URLs.
For the beautiful photos link,
please use:
http://tinyurl.com/5ckwth

For the neat trail description, please try:
http://tinyurl.com/6algux

These will work better.

charlotte said...

Wow, I never realized he wrote those books so quickly. Talk about inspiration.

Serafina said...

AWESOME! Thanks for the links Aunt Barbara! Makes me want to hike that trail Right Now!