English Literature
Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

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The Story behind Stevenson's Spine-Tingling Classic - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The names 'Jekyll and Hyde' have been associated with fear since the publication of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel in 1886. But what motivated Stevenson to craft such a chilling tale? Who was the man behind this literary masterpiece?

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scotsman and the son of a wealthy civil engineer. His family was renowned for designing lighthouses, and Stevenson was expected to carry on the family legacy. However, he had different plans. Despite initial resistance from his parents, he convinced them to let him pursue a career in law. However, his passion for writing soon took over, and he became a published author in his early twenties.

Fun fact: Stevenson was fondly called Louis by his loved ones.

As a child, Stevenson's fragile health meant that he received most of his education at home. He did attend the Edinburgh Academy and later enrolled at Edinburgh University when he was seventeen. It was during this time that he discovered his love for writing. In fact, his first published work, The Pentland Rising, was released in 1866 - a year before he commenced his university studies.

During his time at university, Stevenson rebelled against his parent's religious beliefs and the insincere nature of society. He adopted the persona of a liberal bohemian, someone who rejected traditional constraints and lived life with freedom and creativity.

Liberal bohemian: an unconventional thinker and artist (such as a writer, painter, or poet).

After traveling through various parts of Europe, Stevenson met Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne in Switzerland. The two fell in love, but Fanny was still technically married, though separated from her unfaithful husband. However, her husband attempted to reconcile with her in Paris, causing Fanny to return to America. For an entire year, Stevenson was in a state of anxiety and despondency until he received a message from Fanny. In 1879, he joined her in California, and they were finally able to marry after Fanny's divorce was finalized in 1880.

Together with Fanny's son, Lloyd, the couple traveled around Switzerland, France, and England due to Stevenson's fragile health. However, his condition worsened in England, prompting them to return to America. To their surprise, Stevenson had already gained fame as a writer. They then embarked on a journey to the South Seas before settling in Samoa.

Robert Louis Stevenson facts: He had a fondness for warm weather, and even Hawaii was too chilly for him! He also invented the sleeping bag, which he described in his travel journal, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). The sleeping bag was made of green waterproof cloth on the outside and blue sheep's fur on the inside, providing warmth and protection during his travels.


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