Read by David Shaw-Parker (Unabridged: 56mins)
Occasionally an author appears who, in a short career, emblazons a legacy so bright and so distinct, as well as popular that it is difficult to believe it is the output of only one man. Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was such a talent.
Stevenson was born on 13th November 1850 in Edinburgh. Despite a late start to reading and writing he was a voracious story-teller, regularly performing yarns for all those around him. His health though was poorly, he suffered lifelong bronchial problems and was incapacitated by this and other ailments throughout his life.
In Grez, France in September 1876 he met the American, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. She was married with children but distress and anger at her husband's infidelities led to several separations. By the time she met Stevenson she was already a promising short-story writer.
In 1880 she was at last free to re marry and life, despite his health issues, was good. In the ensuing years travel and exploration would be their calling and the source of his literary inspiration.
Classics flowed; in 1881 ‘The Body Snatcher’. In 1883 ‘Treasure Island’, followed 3 years later by ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.<p> <p>In 1890, they settled on an estate in Samoa for what would be a last great burst of writing that coincided with his political awakening as the islands moved toward inter-clan warfare as greedy outside powers stoked tensions.
Over the course of his prolific career Stevenson had not only given his audience many classic novels but beautiful poetry such as ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ and many short stories as with his dark classic of Christmas Day ‘Markheim’ (1884).
Robert Louis Stevenson died at his island home at Valima in Samoa on 3rd December 1894. He was 44.