Robert Louis Stevenson is one of Edinburgh’s great writers, with novels including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
His childhood in the New Town area of Edinburgh, and his later adolescent dealings with Edinburgh’s seamier side, led to a fascination with the city’s duality. His novels would explore this theme famously in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, with two opposite characters, one good, one evil, inhabiting the same person. This book was influenced by real life events in Edinburgh of Deacon Brodie, whose respectable position in society covered a multitude of sins for which he was eventually hanged.
As well as a novelist, Stevenson was a travel writer and essayist, and moved around the world extensively, eventually coming to a rest in Upolu, Samoa, where he died. He was nicknamed ‘Tuisitala’ or ‘Teller of Tales’ and is beloved in Samoa to this day. His Requiem is inscribed on his tomb on Mount Vaea.
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.
Stevenson is celebrated annually in Edinburgh by the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust with #RLSDay, featuring events, talks, walks, and other interactive literary activities.