Novelist and English essayist, born in Edinburgh on November 13, 1850 and died on December 3, 1894. His father, a prosperous engineer, hoped to continue with the family profession, so Robert Louis eventually accept the legal career as a compromise, and studied law at the University of Edinburgh, although it rebelled violently against the Presbyterian respectability of the professional classes of the city. Told the twenty years a serious respiratory condition, that would haunt him throughout life, and in 1873 - already determined her literary vocation - made him search for improvement in the French Riviera.
During the years immediately following he traveled much in France and described two of his pilgrimages in An Inland Voyage (1878) and Travels with a Monkey in the Cévennes (1879), tales of pleasant tone within the tradition of the romantic essay. During the 1970s he published essays in magazines, testing styles and improving his technique. In 1876, he went to Fontainebleau, where he made friends with Fanny Vandergrift Osbourne, American older than him and separated from her husband. Mrs Osbourne returned to California in 1878 and in August 1879, was followed by Stevenson, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas as an emigrant without means, in difficult conditions - as described in Across the Plains, 1892, and The Amateur Emigrant, 1895. After a period of destitution and disease in Monterrey and San Francisco, waiting that Fanny obtained a divorce, married, going on honeymoon in a cabin of miners abandoned on Mount St. Helena, in the Coast Range caiforniano - what is narrated in The Silverado Squatters, 1883, work which was published in 1966, along with two others written during the same period and some unreleased material.
To reconcile with her parents, Stevenson returned to Scotland in the company of Fanny in August 1880, moved shortly after, according to medical advice, to Davos. The summer of 1881 passed it in Scotland, where began the play Treasure Island (1883) with the original title of The Sea-Cook, published as a feuilleton of the newspaper for teenagers Young Folk in 1881-82. In 1881, also published Virginibus Puerisque, his first collection of essays, and in 1882, back in Scotland after another stay in Davos, wrote two of his best short stories: "Thrawn Janet" and "The Merry Men". But the Scottish climate caused pulmonary hemorrhages and had to start again, this time to Hyères in the South of France, where he worked on the drafting of Prince Otto (1885) and his book of children's poems, A Child completo Garden completo of Verses (1885).
The worsening of his illness in 1885 was followed by two successful years in Bournemouth, where he became a close friend of Henry James and wrote Kidnapped (1886), novel that talks about the consequences of the Jacobite rebellion, and his best-known work, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), treatment melodramatico one of his favourite subjects, the moral ambiguity of the individual.
His reputation was already established, but Bournemouth climate proved too inclement for him, and in August of 1887, Stevenson marriage left England for the last time, first to the United States - where he began one of his best novels, The Master of Balantree, 1889-; and then for a long period of sailing through the South seas. Finally, settled in Samoa, where the climate was more favorable, he has built a House and lived in patriarchal style with his wife, mother and stepson and stepdaughter. He showed a deep interest in the issues of Oceania and wrote descriptive and historical relations of the area (In the South Seas, 1896;) A Footnote to History, 1892). Samoa stage produced Catriona (titled in North America David Balfour, 1893), continuation of Kidnapped; The Ebb-Tide (1894; on a sketch made by his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne); The Beach of Falesa (1892; story based on their knowledge of the South Seas), and the unfinished Weir of Hermiston (1896), his masterpiece, which was working when he died suddenly on December 3, 1894.
The reputation of Stevenson has suffered ups and downs; first it was revered as a hero in the fight against the disease, then relegated to the category of children's writer, and went on to be "unmasked" as a rogue and a Bohemian. But modern biography and criticism are shown as a figure complex and tormented, whose "optimism" was an ironic acceptance of the inevitable, and whose concern for the moral ambiguities was progressively leading him to greatness.
Treasure Island is one of the most perfect adventure stories of the English language, and the history of its drafting is very curious:
Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd were great comrades, together were waging a complicated war games for extending a map on the floor. One day the boy asked him to write a novel"good" for him, and asked Stevenson what meant by "a good novel", the boy replied to a book which had everything: Adventures, emotions, pirates, buccaneers, a boy like him and, above all, no women. And this is how Stevenson began writing The Treasure Island, although initially he called that story map inspired him: The Sea Cook. Every afternoon he read to his family he had written during the day and, with the consequent surprise, warned, not only the small listened enthralled to him that, but also reading loved his wife and his father. And when completed the novel (without women..., with the exception of the mother of Jim, who was considered to be required initially), discovered that he had written one of the most beautiful and best written in its genre adventure novels.
Kidnapped harmonizes the history, psychology and the topography so impressive; Weir of Hemiston, located in Edinburgh and in the hills of the Lawlands at the end of the 18th century and that is the conflict between a severe judge and his son, an idealist, holds in his atmosphere something of border ballads and, even though it is fragmentary in subject, style and tone, is imposed as a work of great force and originality. Stevenson was reaching a real maturity of their dowries at the time of his sudden and premature death.
The remarkable epistolary of Stevenson offers a lively picture of his life - even if you remove importance to initial conflicts with their parents-. It was edited by Sidney Colvin in 1911, but with careful omissions and some rebuilt in the Edition that make even more necessary the new complete edition in preparation by Bradford Booth. Interesting letters to his friend Charles Baxter for years were published by Landey Ferguson and Marshall Waingrow. The essential modern biography is Voyage to Windward, by J. C. Furnas, 1952, but the "official" biography, the cousin of Stevenson, Graham Balfour, deserves to still be consulted.