Robert Louis Stevenson
The real life adventures of author Robert Louis Stevenson rival those of his famous fictional characters. Born into a strictly religious, middle-class Edinburgh family, he later rebelled and refused to follow his father into the lighthouse construction business, opting instead for a literary career and marriage to Fanny, the love of his life and a crack-shot American divorcee. His travels took him to France, America and the South Pacific. Stevenson was an atheist and free spirit – in Samoa, where he died – and he fought in a civil war for independence. In 1886, the blockbuster novel Kidnapped was published – a dramatic adventure of abduction and life on the run in the wilds of Scotland. Stevenson died in 1894, just 44 years old. The Samoan natives, who were devoted to Stevenson, cut a track through the jungle to create a resting place for him on top of the mountain above his beloved Vailima estate.