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RLS and ambiguity

by
September 2005, no. 274

Robert Louis Stevenson: A biography by Claire Harman

HarperCollins, $75 hb, 503 pp

RLS and ambiguity

by
September 2005, no. 274

It would be difficult to write an uninteresting life of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94). There is the progression from the young Stevenson, so often sick and confined to bed, to the intrepid traveller full of life and vigour as he sailed the South Seas. There is the move from cold and chilly Edinburgh to the ‘warm south’ of France and to the even warmer south of the Pacific. There is the dash across the Atlantic and America to claim Fanny Osbourne as his wife. There is the spectacular popular success of works such as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). There is Stevenson’s death at the age of forty-four and his burial on the top of a Samoan mountain. There is even, for us in Australia, the interest of Stevenson’s visits to Sydney. On top of this wealth of incidents, biographers can draw on eight packed volumes of hugely quotable letters and a treasure trove of photographs from the earliest ones with his parents in Edinburgh to some iconic images in the South Pacific.

Graham Tulloch reviews ‘Robert Louis Stevenson: A biography’ by Claire Harman

Robert Louis Stevenson: A biography

by Claire Harman

HarperCollins, $75 hb, 503 pp

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