Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 13 November 1850, the only child born to Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829-1897) and Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887), a civil engineer and pioneering designer of lighthouses. ". When young Louis was not bed-ridden suffering from a fever or cold exacerbated by the damp and chilly Scottish weather, he was often in the company of his father and the fishermen and lighthouse keepers he worked closely with. These times would provide much fodder for his own stories as a child and adult. Louis' devoted nurse Allison Cunningham "Cummy" read to him and encouraged him at an early age to write his own stories including "History of Moses"; he dedicated A Child's Garden of Verses (1885) to her.Louis attended Edinburgh Academy before entering the University of Edinburgh with the intent of following in his father and grandfather's footsteps, but it was an occupation he was physically ill-suited for. He next studied law but decided ultimately to become a writer. Illness often curtailed his studies and throughout his life he travelled to warmer climes for respite. Stevenson wrote numerous novels, stories, and collections of essays based on his travels including Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), travels in Belgium and France via canoe inspiring An Inland Voyage (1878), and In the South Seas (1893). While on one of his many forays in France, Stevenson met American artist Fanny Osbourne (1840-1914) with her son Lloyd and daughter Isobel. The children were amazed by Stevenson's outgoing personality and pirate stories, and Louis and Fanny fell in love.In August of 1879 he sailed for New York from Glasgow, much to the distress of his father Thomas who was concerned for his health and well-being. After making the arduous cross-country journey to San Francisco which inspired The Amateur Emigrant (1895), Across The Plains (1892), and The Silverado Squatters (1883). Louis and Fanny were re-united, Osbourne having been newly granted a divorce. In May 1880 they were married.In 1880 the Stevensons travelled back to Europe, living for a time in Bournemouth, England where Stevenson met fellow author Henry James. However the climate was still too much for him and he spent winters travelling. In 1888 he set sail for the South Seas, and by the end of 1889 was familiar with the island of Samoa, the place where he and Fanny would soon call home.Robert Louis Stevenson died at home of a stroke on 3 December 1894, his beloved Fanny by his side. His tomb at Mount Vaea is inscribed thus;
"Under the wide and starry sky
,Dig the grave and let me lie
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me,
Here he lies where he longed to be.
Home is the sailor home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.