| Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)
Novelist and essayist, was born in Edinburgh. Since early childhood, his interests had been prominently literary, and in 1871 he began to contribute to the Edinburgh University Magazine and the Portfolio. A tour in a canoe in 1876 led to the publication in 1878 of his first book, An Inland Voyage. During the same year, The New Arabian Nights, afterwards separately published, appeared in magazines, and in 1879 he brought out Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.Meanwhile, he went to California and married Mrs. Osbourne; in 1880, on his way back to Europe, he started a period of productiveness which, dispite his physical conditions, was, both in quantity and worth, highly remarkable. The 1881 was marked by his unsuccessful candidature for the Chair of Constitutional Law and History at Edinburgh, and also by the publication of Virginibus Puerisque. Other works followed in rapid succession. Treasure Island (1882), Prince Otto and The Childs Garden of Verse (1885), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped (1886), Underwoods (poetry), Memories and Portraits (essays), and The Merry Men, a collection of short stories (1887), and in 1888 The Black Arrow. In 1887 he set out to America, and, the following year, visited the South Sea Islands where, in Samoa, he settled down untill his death. In 1889 The Master of Ballantrae appeared, in 1892 Across the Plains and The Wrecker, in 1893 Island Nights Entertainments and Catriona, and in 1894 The Ebb Tide in collaboration with his step-son, Mr. Lloyd Osbourne. By this time his health was getting worst, yet he continued the struggle hard, and left the fragments St. Ives and Weir of Hermiston, the latter containing some of his best work. They were published in 1897. Though the originality and power of Stevensons writings was recognised by a select few, it was only gradually that he caught the ear of the general public. The tide may be said to have turned with the publication of Treasure Island in 1882, which at once assured him a place among the foremost imaginative writers of the day. His greatest genius, however, emerges from those works dealing with Scotland in the 18th century, such as Kidnapped, Catriona, Weir of Hermiston, and in those, The Childs Garden of Verse, which exhibit his extraordinary insight into the psychology of childlife; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a marvellously powerful and subtle psychological story, and some of his short tales are also considered as masterpieces. His style is peculiarly fascinating, graceful and subtle.
From Biographical Dictionary of English Literature - the Everyman Edition of 1910.