'For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door And Leerie stops to light it, as he lights so many more...' The picture of a small boy peering from a window at dusk to watch the lamplighter in the street is one of the enduring images of 19th-century Edinburgh, and the child probably the most famous ever brought up there. Robert Louis Stevenson loved to conjure up a dashing, romantic lineage for himself, dreaming that he was descended from the colourful outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor. The reality was less flamboyant but no less remarkable and he would learn that the street lamps of Edinburgh owed their brilliance to the scientific work of his own great-grandfather. This welcome addition to the Robert Louis Stevenson canon gives a concise account of his life - his family background, childhood and adolescence in a Calvinist, hard-working household in Scotland, his travels in three continents and his final years in the South Seas.It examines his relationships with his parents and his nurse, with English and American friends, particularly the family into which he married, and with the Samoan islanders among whom he died at the age of 44.
Stevenson's childhood experiences and Scottish identity fed his fertile imagination wherever he found himself. His legacy includes travel writing, essays and poetry, and novels such as "Treasure Island", "Kidnapped", "The Master of Ballantrae", "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", "St Ives" and "Weir of Hermiston", still read and enjoyed more than one hundred years after his death. "Robert Louis Stevenson: The Travelling Mind" is an insightful introduction to the life and work of one of the world's best-loved writers.