a though he passed his law exams
b it was for the boy that
c an idle student
d that would take them half-way round the world
e a longing to travel
f according to his wishes
g but his urge for travelling never seized
h in several hundred acres of ground
A Dream Coming True
In spite of his poor health, Robert Louis Stevenson travelled half-way round the world in pur¬suit of a dream — he wanted love and adventure, and found them both. From his early days he was filled with a longing to travel.
Stevenson was born on 13 November, 1850 in Edinburgh. His father came from the great lighthouse engineering family. His mother with whom Stevenson shared a lung weakness that brought him close to death on many occasions, was the daughter of a clergyman. Both the parents doted on their first and only child.
At the age of seventeen Stevenson entered Edinburgh University to study engineering. On his own admission Stevenson was an idle student as his heart and thoughts were somewhere else; his ambition was to become a writer. Soon young Stevenson announced to his father that his chosen career was not to be light¬house engineering, but writing. Thomas Stevenson took this news calmly enough, believing it to be no more than a youthful fad, but insisted that his son should study law to provide a steady occupation, should writing fail.
Stevenson began his writing career by contributing to magazines. For some years he journeyed restlessly around Scotland and England as well as France, joking in a letter to his mother that she had a tramp and a vagabond for a son. Though he passed his law exams he never practised law but continued writing. Soon he met the ful¬crum and love of his life. In an artists' colony in France he met a beautiful American woman. Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who was staying there with her daughter and son. For 25-year-old Stevenson it was love at first sight and when Fanny and her children returned to San Francisco, he followed them to Ameri¬ca. They married in San Francisco after which Stevenson, Fanny and her son Lloyd returned to Europe. And it was for the boy that Stevenson made up the story of the Treasure Island. The book ensured his literary fame and became an adventure classic while Stevenson entered a most productive stage of his writing career, completing A Child's Garden of Verses, Kidnapped and the Gothic shocker, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now Stevenson was a celebrat¬ed writer who had a loving family and admiring friends but his urge for travelling never seized. Soon he made his dream come true. Following the death of his father in May 1887, Stevenson, his mother, Fanny and Lloyd set sail for America on an odyssey that would take them half-way round the world. In America Stevenson hired a boat and ventured into the mysterious world of the South Seas. Stevenson's friends found it difficult to understand his self-imposed exile. The fact was that he had more fun and pleasure of his life these past months than ever before, as he himself wrote.
Finally, Stevenson found his home at Apia, the Samoan Islands. Here, in several hundred acres of ground, he built a big wooden house where he spent the happiest years of his life. Stevenson assembled round him a loyal household of Samoan servants, and installed himself, Fanny and her children, and his eld¬erly mother Maggie.
Stevenson died aged forty-four on the point of gaining full maturity as a writer. According to his wishes he was buried at the summit of Mount Vaea. The bronze plague on his tomb bears these famous lines from his poem Requiem:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.