Stevenson was born in Edinburgh into a family of lighthouse engineers and was grandson
of the engineer, Robert Stevenson. He inherited a delicate constitution from his mother
and was privately educated during his frequent childhood illnesses that interrupted his
general schooling. He showed early interest in writing as a child and left his
university studies to devote himself to a literary career. He formed several literary
connections in London but returned to Edinburgh where he studied law being called
to the bar in 1875 although he never practised.
His frequent indispositions required several trips to recuperate in France where he met
the American, Fanny Osborne. He followed her to California in 1879 living in great hardship
and penury but he was nursed by the now divorced Fanny whom he married in 1880.
They returned to England for several years where he added Treasure Island, Kidnapped
and several other works including the poetry collections, Underwoods and a Child's
Garden of Verses, to his list of publications.
After a further period in America, he sailed the east and central pacific creating
friendships with several island communities settling in 1890 in Samoa where he campaigned
for better administration. He died in 1894, probably of cerebral haemorrhage, during
a final bout of creativity; and was buried on the island in a respectful ceremony
that recognized his bond with the inhabitants.
He was identified for much of the following century mainly as a childrens' author but
is now recognized as a skilled and much translated writer of stirring novels and of
several poetry collections.