Robert Louis Stevenson: Finding Treasure Island

A biography for young readers by Angelica Shirley Carpenter & Jean Shirley
Lerner Publications, 1997
ISBN 0-8225-4955-7

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The beloved only child of wealthy parents, he became a leader among his fifty first cousins. Later he wrote a book, A Child’s Garden of Verses, about their childhood activities.

Louis upset his parents by questioning their Presbyterian beliefs and later their idea that he should become a lawyer—he wanted to be a writer. Often in poor health, he spent winters in the sunny south of France and soon he began writing travel books. As a young man he tended to fall in love with older, married women, and frequently they fell right back in love with him. One of them, Fanny Osborne, an American artist, even married him (after she divorced her first husband, of course). Louis wrote Treasure Island for her young son Lloyd, who requested an adventure story without any girls.

With Fanny, a grown-up Lloyd, and his widowed mother, Louis set off from San Francisco in a luxurious yacht, seeking adventures in the South Seas. He wrote constantly, books like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to pay for his family’s extravagant lifestyle. In 1890 he settled in Samoa. He died young, in 1894, but his novels, poetry, and lively travel writing live on in books and movies.

To learn more about Robert Louis Stevenson, see the website of the Robert Louis Stevenson Club.

Reviews of Robert Louis Stevenson: Finding Treasure Island

Booklist: “... the account of Stevenson's eventful life makes a lively narrative. Concrete details of his childhood and youth, as well as quotations from letters and other period writings, give the story immediacy.”

Children’s Literature: “Stevenson's life reads like one of his fantastic adventures and the authors have infused their writing with the same excitement and attention to detail.”

Parent Council Volume 5: “My homeschooled ten-year-old loves biographies and greatly enjoyed this one. He was fascinated by the many adventures and trips to the South Pacific, Australia and Hawaii.”

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