Friday, February 26, 2016

Daily Dose of Literature: Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

Another great and important influence on genre fiction who all-too-often flies under the radar, Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish author who lived in the late 19th century and contributed seminal works to the canon of genre fiction that would later take off in the pulps and down to the literature of today. In his brief 44-year lifespan, Stevenson contributed to an astounding variety of genres, from swashbucking adventure to horror to thrillers and crime novels. 

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850. At the age of 17 he went to Edinburgh University to study lighthouse engineering. Law, however, became his passion and he switched gears to study in that field. He took the opportunity at every vacation to visit France so as to surround himself with the artists, writers and creative types of that environment and by the time he graduated in 1875, he had determined that his true calling was to be a writer. 

In 1876 he met the American Fanny Osbourne, the woman he would eventually marry. The relationship was fraught with complications, however; Osbourne was married with two children when she and Stevenson first met. She divorced her husband in 1878 and married Stevenson in 1880. The two would remain together for the next 14 years until Stevenson's death in 1894.

His first book, the travelogue An Inland Voyage, was published in 1878 and he was off and running. More travelogues followed as well as books of humor and a short fiction collection entitled The New Arabian Nights. During the 1880s his output increased dramatically even as his health declined. It was during these waning years of his life that he produced Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped, his three best-known works. 

Consider the influence these works have had on popular fiction: Where would Jack Sparrow or even Errol Flynn be without Treasure Island? Certainly without Jekyll and Hyde we wouldn't have such notable figures as the Incredible Hulk. Kidnapped is an excellent novel which incorporates elements of the crime story, travelogue and rollicking adventure tale, and has become a template for many young adult stories that have followed. 

More information about Stevenson from Wikipedia

Stevenson's work for free on Feedbooks (in ePub, PDF and Kindle formats)

And as always, don't forget to check out Amazing Adventures, the Amazing Adventures Companion, and our whole line of adventure game supplements for all of your classic pulp and genre game needs!