Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was just forty-four when he died, but he left behind a legacy that has effected generations. Stevenson wasn’t just a novelist, he was also a poet, playwright, gothicist, historian, victorian, postmodernist, and anthropologist because of his love for exploring life and experimenting with his writing style.
A native Scotts man, Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, although his family often moved both within Scotland and around Europe to try different treatments for Stevenson. Stevenson was chronically ill from childhood, with a lung ailment that resembled tuberculosis in symptoms such as labored breathing and spitting up blood. Due to his chronic illness, Stevenson had many opportunities to ponder his own mortality and its meaning, which is often reflected in his work. However, he did not let his chronic illness stop him from not only living life but exploring it.
Stevenson was an avid traveler. He had a love for sailing the high seas and seeing new places, and new cultures. Over the course of his life, Stevenson traveled throughout Europe, visiting France, England, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and more. Stevenson is an inspiration because even though he was chronically ill, he didn’t let that stop him from exploring the world and its multitude of cultures. He has shown generations of people that being chronically ill doesn’t mean you can’t travel but that you should.
Throughout his life, Stevenson was always changing, and always interested in new cultural influences. His interest in the evolving world around him is reflected in his writing because it isn’t constant. Stevenson didn’t limit himself to one style of writing but instead expanded his horizons. He wrote in the Gothic and Victorian styles, poetry, playwrights, and he wrote novels, two of which he is most famous for, Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Even though he passed at a young age, Stevenson was never once held back. Despite all the criticism from his friends on his marriage to Frances Van de Grift Osbourne Stevenson, Stevenson didn’t allow anything to stop him from pursuing the woman he loved. Neither her age nor the distance between them kept him from following her to the ends of the earth. While his friends didn’t approve because they believed she had too much control over his life, his family warmed to her.
Stevenson is an inspiration because he never let anything stop him from living life. He didn’t allow chronic illness to keep him from his explorations, nor did he allow criticism to keep him from marrying the woman he loved. He has inspired the generations that came after to follow their dreams and cherish life because it is all too short.