A brief introduction to Robert Louis Stevenson
In his classic stories for adults and children, Robert Louis Stevenson made the ordinary extraordinary with tales of pirates, monsters and searching for treasure. If you’ve not read any of his work, here is a brief introduction into one of the biggest literary figures of the nineteenth century.
Best known for his iconic, and now classic works of fiction, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson was born in November 1850 in an Edinburgh in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Heralding from a family of lighthouse designers, Stevenson chose at a young age to turn his back on the family profession, a decision which inspired some of his poetry.
After attending multiple schools and employing the services of numerous private tutors, Stevenson’s family encouraged him to study law at Edinburgh University to add some stability to his otherwise increasingly bohemian existence. Although his study of law never led him to practise, the influence of his years training for the Scottish Bar can be seen throughout his writing.
Stevenson’s first successful work, Treasure Island, skyrocketed him to literary fame in the late 19th century and still remains one of the most popular children’s stories today, inspiring and film and screen versions the world over. In Treasure Island, Stevenson introduced the image of a peg leg and a parrot on one shoulder, now a prerequisite of any pirate. Underneath the whimsical pirate adventure lies a telling story of fathers and sons losing and finding each other, a prominent theme in Stevenson’s own life.
If you’re a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde explores the double-ness of life which Stevenson knew all too well after shifting religions and social classes in his own life. His writing took place in a time where scholars were just beginning to explore the mind as separate from the body, and this novella indulges in the dark corners of consciousness humans try so hard to suppress, embodied by the infamous Mr Hyde. Set in a Victorian London which seems prosperous from the outside, Stevenson uncovers the dark underbelly of crime and poverty.
Sherlock Holmes mysteries or Rudyard Kipling’s
fantastical tales, Stevenson is sure to become a firm favourite.