The Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. He was the son of Margaret Balfour and Thomas Stevenson who was a prominent lighthouse engineer. R. L. Stevenson is currently among the twenty-six most translated authors in the world. Among his plethora of literature, he is most known for writing Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Stevenson was a member of the small group of authors who happened to be famous for their work within their lifetime. Those who looked up to him include Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway, and Vladimir Nabokov. Sadly, Stevenson’s life was cut short by what was most likely a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of forty-four. In the letter I’ve chosen below, Stevenson is in correspondence with his father. He talks a little about his recently re-published Treasure Island and laments not writing to his father more often. It’s also interesting to keep in mind that this letter is written one year before publishing The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
[SKERRYVORE, BOURNEMOUTH,] OCTOBER 28, 1885.
MY DEAREST FATHER, - Get the November number of TIME, and you will see a review of me by a very clever fellow, who is quite furious at bottom because I am too orthodox, just as Purcell was savage because I am not orthodox enough. I fall between two stools. It is odd, too, to see how this man thinks me a full-blooded fox- hunter, and tells me my philosophy would fail if I lost my health or had to give up exercise!
An illustrated TREASURE ISLAND will be out next month. I have had an early copy, and the French pictures are admirable. The artist has got his types up in Hogarth; he is full of fire and spirit, can draw and can compose, and has understood the book as I meant it, all but one or two little accidents, such as making the HISPANIOLA a brig. I would send you my copy, BUT I CANNOT; it is my new toy, and I cannot divorce myself from this enjoyment.
I am keeping really better, and have been out about every second day, though the weather is cold and very wild.
I was delighted to hear you were keeping better; you and Archer would agree, more shame to you! (Archer is my pessimist critic.) Good-bye to all of you, with my best love. We had a dreadful overhauling of my conduct as a son the other night; and my wife stripped me of my illusions and made me admit I had been a detestable bad one. Of one thing in particular she convicted me in my own eyes: I mean, a most unkind reticence, which hung on me then, and I confess still hangs on me now, when I try to assure you that I do love you. - Ever your bad son,