Happy birthday, Robert Louis Stevenson

This weekend (13 November) brings the birthday of Robert Louis Stevenson, celebrated Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. A firm favourite on the Kumon Recommended Reading List, with three of his works appearing there, Stevenson has been a great source of inspiration and creativity to many Kumon students. Therefore, to celebrate his birthday, we will explore the author's history and the three books our students know and love.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson was born in Edinburgh on 13 November 1850. Due to poor health, Stevenson spent much of his childhood being taught at home, with intermittent periods at school.

His family's chosen profession was lighthouse design; Stevenson's grandfather was the famous civil engineer, Robert Stevenson. Though his family wanted him to follow suit, he instead chose a life of writing (with the agreement that he also studied law at Edinburgh University).

During his life he wrote 13 novels, six collections of short stories, 11 papers, six collections of poetry, seven travel essays, and much more. He eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, and lived out the rest of his life there.

Treasure Island
The first of his works to feature on our Recommended Reading List is the 1883 novel Treasure Island. Set in the mid -1700s, the book tells the tale of a young boy called Jim Hawkins. One day Jim finds a pirate map of a treasure island and sets out to find it with his compatriots. On their journey they clash with a crew of mutinous pirates and go on many other adventures along their way.

The full title of this work is Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson; however, this isn't exactly catchy and so the book is referred to simply as Kidnapped. The book explores many different themes, including murder, intrigue, crime, danger, and blackmail. It tells the story of David Balfour, an incredibly unlucky individual who is on a quest to claim his destiny.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The 1886 publication of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde brought with it a true case of multiple personality disorder. In the book we meet the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and his evil alter-ego, Mr Edward Hyde. Whilst trying to create a potion to suppress his inner evil, Jekyll instead releases it and unleashes Mr. Hyde into the world, with devastating results.

There are so many wonderful works by Stevenson to read, and the three we have explored today are a fantastic way to get stuck into his writing. To celebrate the author, why not join Jim Hawkins on his voyage, or watch as Dr. Jekyll transforms into the sinister Mr. Hyde?

Happy birthday Robert Louis Stevenson.

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