Stevenson was born on Nov. 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, theson of an engineer, and studied engineering and then law at the University of Edinburgh. Since childhood, however, Stevenson's natural inclination had been toward Literature; eventually he took upletters seriously, soon making his way into the first rank of contemporaneous writers by the excellence of his style.
Stevenson suffered from tuberculosis and often traveled abroad in search of morehealthful climates. His earliest works are descriptions of his journeys: An Inland Voyage (1878), describing a canoe trip through Belgium and France in 1876; and Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes(1879), an account of a journey on foot through mountains in southern France in 1878. Subsequent travels took him by immigrant ship and train to California (1879-80), where in 1880 he married FrancesOsbourne (d. 1914), an American divorc�e; across the South Pacific on a pleasure cruise (1889); and finally to Samoa (1889), where he and his wife settled (1889-94) in a final effort to restore hishealth. He died in Samoa on Dec. 3, 1894, and was buried on a mountaintop behind Vailima, his Samoan home.
Stevenson's popularity is based primarily on the exciting subject matter of his adventurenovels and stories of the fantastic. Treasure Island (1883), a swiftly paced story of a search for buried gold, portrays good, in the form of the boy Jim and his friends, against evil, as personified bythe pirate Pew and the one-legged Long John Silver.
In the horror story The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the extremes of good and evil mushroom startlingly in one character when thephysician Henry Jekyll discovers a drug that changes him, first at will and later involuntarily, into the monster Hyde.
The action in Kidnapped (1886) is triggered by a stolen inheritance, that of...