Stevenson was born on November 13, 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a sickly boy who suffered from a lung disease that later developed into tuberculosis. Of all of Stevensonís hobbies, reading was the one he liked the most. He preferred literature and history, especially Scottish history, which supplied the background for most of his novels.
Stevenson began publishing short stories and essays in the mid-1870ís. His first book, An Inland Voyage, was published in 1878. It relates his experiences during a canoeing trip through France and Belgium. His next book was called Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. It was published in 1879. In his second book Stevenson describes a walking tour through parts of France. Both of his published books did not sell very well and showed Stevensonís inexperience as a writer. However, the books did give signs of the graceful, charming essay style that would later make Stevenson famous.
In 1881, Stevenson amused his stepson with a little tale about pirates and the buried treasure of Captain Kidd. This story later grew into Treasure Island, Stevensonís first and most famous novel. The story was first published in a boyís magazine, but was later revised for book publication in 1883. Since then, Long John Silver and the search for buried treasure has become familiar to millions and millions of readers.
Five years later, Stevenson published his second major novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The idea for this story came from a dream he had one night. The story about a man struggling with two personalities represented Stevensonís struggle in life with his lung cancer and the later death of his wife, Fanny Osbourne. One of the most fascinating horror stories ever written, it sold millions of copies and assured Stevensonís reputation as a writer.
In 1886, Stevenson published his longest novel ever, Kidnapped. The story was based on a Scottish murder committed in 1745 before Stevenson was born. The novel displayed Stevensonís ability to turn a murder crime into an adventure story for kids and adults alike. Because of the storyís length, Stevenson ended Kidnapped before the plot was completed. He finally finished the story in 1893 with a sequel called David Balfour.
Besides the three well-known novels that were published, Stevenson also had other novels that did not receive as much recognition. One of these novels was The Master of Ballantrae. Published in 1889, the story is about Scotlandís revolt against England in the 1740ís. Another novel was The Beach of Falesa. Published in 1892, the novel described a realistic south sea story when Stevenson was living in the Pacific. After Stevenson was married, he wrote three other novels in collaboration with Lloyd Osbourne, his stepson-The Wrong Box, published in 1889, The Wrecker, published in 1892, and The Ebb Tide, which was published in 1894. At the time of his death in 1894, Stevenson also left two novels unfinished. One of the two was St. Ives, which was later completed by Sir Arthur Quiller. The novel tells about a French prisoner in Britain in 1813. The second novel is called Weir of Hermiston, a story of Scotland in the 1700ís. Promised to be the finest Stevensonís finest novel, it has yet to be completed by another writer.
Stevenson was both the most popular and the most successful among writers of the late 1800ís. His novels were so appealing to the public that they praised Stevenson as ďthe only man in England who can write a decent English sentence.Ē The reading public has never lost its admiration for Stevenson, and it appears likely that as long as there is a taste for adventure, he will continue to have an audience.