contains images from a photograph album which belonged to Lloyd Osbourne, the step-son of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). The images cover the travels of the Stevenson family during 1889-90 through various Pacific Islands including Tahiti, Hawaii, the Marquesas and Sandwich Islands.
The images, which have rarely been seen by the general public before, offer a significant and intimate glimpse of Stevenson's family life. The informality of many of the images would have perhaps been impossible within the social confines of Victorian Britain, giving an important insight into not only the private life of the Stevensons abroad, but also the islands themselves and their inhabitants at the period as seen through the eyes of foreign travellers.
Born in Edinburgh on 13th November 1850, Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, playwright and travel writer. Although he was plagued by ill health all his life, he was extraordinarily well-travelled, visiting Europe, America and the South Seas.
As a young man Stevenson qualified as an advocate, but he only ever took one case, instead concentrating on his ambition to become a writer. He began writing essays for London magazines, but his poor health led him to seek recurrent recuperation in the warmer climes of France. Indeed, his first book, An Inland Voyage (1878) was written about a canoe trip through Northern France and Belgium. While in France in 1876 Stevenson met Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a married woman from the United States, and fell in love. Fanny returned to California in 1878 with her children Sam (later Lloyd) and Belle Osbourne, but Stevenson followed her the next year and in 1880 the couple married. Stevenson's extensive travels inspired many of his works, for example Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), The Silverado Squatters (1884), Across the Plains, with Other Memories and Essays (1892), The Amateur Emigrant (1895), and In the South Seas (1896).
The 1880s was a period of great literary success for Stevenson, when he published his most famous novels Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (both 1886), as well as Prince Otto (1885), The Dynamiter (1885), Black Arrow (1888), The Master of Ballantrae (1889) and The Wrong Box (1889). From the late 1880s, Stevenson stayed in the South Pacific with his family on his own estate in Vailima in Samoa. In the last years of his life he continued to write prodigiously, publishing The Wrecker in 1892, Catriona in 1893 and The Ebb-Tide in 1894. He died at Vailima, just 44 years old, on the 3rd December 1894 of a brain haemorrhage, leaving what many consider his best work, Weir of Hermiston (1896) unfinished.
Find out more about Robert Louis Stevenson at the RLS website