November 13, 1850
Robert Louis Stevenson, Happy Birthday!!
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 13 November 1850. The celebrated writer was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, (1886).
A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world.
Stevenson never set foot in Newfoundland but he and his family were very aware of the place. Stevenson was extraordinarily well-travelled, a lover of sailing on the seas, and of finding new adventures the world over. In October 1887 writing to a cousin R. A. M. (Bob) Stevenson from his summer home in Saranac Lake, NY he described a voyage from Scotland to New York. In the letter he wrote:
”We took so north a course, that we saw Newfoundland; no one in the ship had ever seen it before.”
Stevenson’s mother who was on the voyage wrote:
“The weather was very bad and off Newfoundland, (Robert Lewis) Stevenson caught cold and was for a few days really ill. Yet he declared throughout the whole voyage he was so happy that his heart sang. He was a true son of his father and grandfather in that he had always loved the sea…”
Stevenson wrote of the voyage:
“It was beyond belief to me how she (the ship) rolled; in seemingly smooth water, the bell striking, the fittings bounding out of our state- room. It is worth having lived these last years, partly because I have written some better books, which is always pleasant, but chiefly to have had the joy of this voyage. ….”
The celebrated writer had another connection with Newfoundland and Labrador.
The D & T Stevenson, lighthouse engineers from Edinburgh, Scotland, was named after his uncle (David) and father (Thomas); they were responsible for advising, designing and supplying the original lighting apparatus for the lighthouses at Ferryland, (1869) and Rose Blanche, (1871).
It was the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson (also Robert) from the firm Stevenson and Sons of Scotland that provided a copper domed lantern room and lighting apparatus for use at Cape Spear in 1836.
Visits with his family to remote lighthouses in Scotland as a youth, like those erected in Newfoundland, are thought to have inspired his books Kidnapped and Treasure Island.
Happy Birthday Robert Louis Stevenson.
You should have come ashore!
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