Who doesn't like a good story? I definitely do. But today it's not about stories itself, it's more about those who created them and where they got their inspiration from. Walter Scott, David Hume, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling and Irvine Welsh are all writers from Edinburgh, some locals and some inspired by the city. So it's no surprise that Edinburgh was declared 2004 as the first UNESCO world city of literature. While exploring the New Town we learned some facts about one of Edinburgh's most famous writers Robert Louis Stevenson.
By Kim Laura Kühne
Who was Robert Louis Stevenson? I'm sure you must have heard from at least one of his books : Treasure Island. In this book, Stevenson created the typical image of a pirate - men with parrots and wooden legs looking for hidden treasure. But back to where everything began: Edinburgh, to be more accurate in the New Town.
We start our wee tour at Heriot Row in front of a red door. Not that it's anything special to have a bright coloured door here in Edinburgh but this red door leads into a very special building: The house were Robert Louis Stevenson grew up. Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850. His family was famous for building lighthouses. Robert was an unlucky little boy as he was ill all the time. Imagine now, being wee Robert in his room on the top floor of this four-story house staring out of the window, across the street and looking into Queen Street Gardens.
But before we move to the next stop, one last thing connected to the house. If you have a close look you can find one of Stevenson poems: For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door, And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more; And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light; O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!
We are now in Queen Street Gardens. The place that little Robert saw from his bedroom window. People say that this is the place which inspired Stevenson to write Treasure Island.
Stevenson studied law but never practised it. What he really loved was writing and traveling. On a travel to France he met Fanny Osbourne and fell in love with her. His parents, especially his father, disagreed on this liaison. Fanny wasn't the kind of women one would have wanted as a daughter in law. She smoked cigars and always carried two revolvers with her. As well untypical for a women back then, Fanny was divorced, had children, was older than Robert and was American. Fanny left Robert and went back to America. Stevenson was deeply heartbroken. He couldn't live without her and followed her to America. This journey brought him back his beloved Fanny but not his health. Stevenson nearly died on his trip to America. But only nearly. The two lovebirds headed off on their honeymoon to islands in the pacific ocean. Robert realized that his health was way better in this climate. He and Fanny settled down in Samoa. 1894 Robert Louis Stevenson died. Surprisingly, not because of his illness. He had a stroke. Some people say his last words were "That's funny" while he was eating mayonnaise.
Robert Louis Stevenson was buried in Samoa and you can find one of his poems, "Requiem", at his grave: Under the wide and starry sky, dig the grave and let me lie. Gald did I live and gladly die, and I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me; "Here he lies where he longed to be, home is the sailor, home from sea, and the hunter home from the hill."
To finish off our tour and the story about Robert Louis Stevenson life, we head to Princes Street Gardens. There you can find a memorial. What do you think about this memorial? Does it match a famous write like Stevenson was? Do you know any of his stories? Which one is your favourite?
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