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INTRODUCTION

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ROBERT LEWIS BALFOUR STEVENSON was born Novem, ber 13, 1850, at Edinburgh, Scotland, and died December 3, 1894, at Apia in the Samoan Islands. He was the only child of Thomas Stevenson, a man of “ blended stern ness and softness that was wholly Scottish,” and of his wife Margaret Isabella, the youngest daughter of the Reverend James Balfour of the parish of Colinton in Midlothian. The Stevensons for two generations had been civil engineers, and had held the honorable position of engineers to the Board of Northern Lighthouses - the grandfather, Robert, building the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse and the father, Thomas under his brother Alan the Skerryvore, “the noblest of all extant deep-sea lights”; and it was thought that the latest born of this race should maintain the tradition of the family and succeed to the office of his father. And later, when it was found that he had profited little by his studies and had small taste for engineering, it was again decided for him that the law rather than literature offered a profession more in keeping with his station and his father's notion of an honorable career. But in the case of Stevenson, as in that of many another in whom the current

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1 It was some time about his eighteenth year that the author began to sign himself Robert Louis Stevenson; although, it is said, in the pronunciation of his intimate friends he was still called Lewis.

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