Saturday, November 13, 2010

Robert Louis Stevenson

November 13 is the anniversary of Robert Louis Stevenson's birth, which occurred in 1850.  Stevenson, of course, is well known as an author.  Robert declared his interest in becoming a writer fairly early in life, bucking the Stevenson family trend of building lighthouses.  Robert's father Thomas employed his engineering skills in designing more than 30 of Scotland's lighthouses.  Robert's cousin David designed Bass Rock lighthouse, which figured in Robert's novel Catronia.  Lighthouse building became a Stevenson forte with Robert's grandfather (also Robert), who designed, among others, Bell Rock lighthouse, which Walter Scott visited with Robert Stevenson on his Northern lights tour (1814).  The connection between Scott and the Stevensons clearly influenced Robert Louis' interests.  One other connection in terms of novels, is that his "Kidnapped" was in part inspired by his reading of Scott's "Rob Roy".

Robert Louis Stevenson visited the Northern lights as well, on summer inspection trips with his family.  Like Walter Scott, these travels were a source of writing material for Stevenson, who was a travel writer, as well as novelist.  Stevenson's travels took him not only to Europe, but to America, in pursuit of a love interest (wife Fanny Osbourne), and ultimately to Samoa, where he died.  Stevenson was sickly most of his life, suffering from tuberculosis, and dying at the young age of 44.

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