HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Robert Louis Stevenson, born 13 November 1850
“Life is a journey that must be travelled, no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.”
You can still see Stevenson’s birthplace at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh – it is marked with a plaque, but you cannot get inside. However, it is possible to actually stay in his childhood home at 17 Heriot Row in Edinburgh – this operates as a B & B and is an absolutely marvellous place to visit.
Stevenson’s life took him to many parts of the world and I have followed in his footsteps to several of them. I have seen the Swiss chalet style house where he lived in Hyères in the South of France, I have visited the Hôtel Chevillon in Grez-sur-Loing in northern France where he first laid eyes on Fanny, the woman he married, and I have visited Vailima, the house in Samoa, and climbed to see his grave at the top of Mt Apia. A club in Sydney still has the chair he sat in on his visits to Australia, and I’ve sat in that too.
He was such a wonderful writer. Kidnapped has to be one of my favourite books of all time, and the scene depicting the death of Blind Pew in Treasure Island is one of the greatest ever pieces of dramatic writing. His verses for children are wonderful, and I love Requiem, the poem which is on his gravestone:
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 sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
Happy birthday, Robert Louis Stevenson, and thanks for all the pleasure you have given me!
Robert Louis Stevenson died on 3 December 1894, aged 44.
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