On this day in 1850, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is born in Scotland.
Stevenson studied civil engineering and law, but decided to pursue a career as a writer and began publishing essays and travel pieces. His decision alienated his parents, who expected him to follow the family trade of lighthouse keeping. The family wasn’t reconciled for years.
In 1876, Stevenson 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. Beginning in May of 1886, he published Kidnapped, and that same year, he published Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In 1888, the family set off for the South Seas, seeking a healthier climate for Stevenson’s tuberculosis. The family finally settled in Samoa, where Stevenson died in 1894.