Writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his family leave San Francisco for their first visit to the South Seas on this day in 1888. Stevenson, an adventurous traveler plagued by tuberculosis, was seeking a healthier climate. The family finally settled in Samoa, where Stevenson died in 1894.
Stevenson was born in Scotland and studied civil engineering and law, but decided to pursue a career as a writer. His decision upset his parents, who remained alienated from him until he was 30 years old. At first, Stevenson wrote essays and travel accounts. In 1876, he fell in love with an American woman named Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne, who was separated from her husband. When she returned to San Francisco in 1879, Stevenson followed her. The couple married and returned to Scotland in 1880. Stevenson published a collection of essays in 1881 and Treasure Island, one of his most popular books, in 1883. In 1885, he published the first version of the popular nursery rhyme book A Child’s Garden of Verse. In 1846, he published Kidnapped, and in 1886 he published Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
After returning to the U.S. for a year, the Stevenson family set sail for the South Seas. Stevenson wrote several travel accounts of the family’s explorations of the region. He died in Samoa in 1894.