Works of Art

Nathan McLean, age 16

As one of the most prolific writers of our history and who single-handedly forever transmuted our perspective on pirates because of his creativity, Robert Louis Stevenson has undisputedly made his mark on literature and quite frankly, the world. Disastrously, there was one hindrance. Along with his brilliant mind, he was born with a perpetuating sickness. He would frequently not attend school, so he spent his time telling grand tales. Soon he developed a love for writing. Unfortunately, his father wanted something different. He wanted him to be educated in the pristine halls of Edinburgh University in the ways of engineering. He orchestrated a compromise with his father and learned law instead, though he never practiced it. He made his way by selling stories to the magazines at twenty-three years of age. He soon started his trek upwards toward being one of the most popular authors, writing one of the most influential books of all time, Treasure Island.

Treasure Island, inspiring tons of pirate stories, became R. L. Stevenson’s most impactful book, influencing even up to the 21st century. Horribly, his detested illness, which was hemorrhaging of the lungs probably because of tuberculosis, endured while he continued to write. As he laid bedridden, he created a pirate-filled tale and called it Treasure Island. The book was inspired by a silly island either he invented or his stepson Lloyd drew. With his ingenious inventiveness, he created the line, “Fifteen men on dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum,” and many more. In 1883, his masterpiece was published and Stevenson rose to well-earned stardom. Treasure Island became one of the top books in the Victorian era. R. L. Stevenson had the privilege of starting an entire genre and forever impacting history.

R.L. Stevenson touched the world with his life and his writing. Frustratingly, his hampering sickness relentlessly vexed him, mostly because of the terrible weather conditions where he inhabited. Aboard a ship, he and his family went on a cruise around the South Pacific Islands, which were captivatingly beautiful. On his adventurous ventures, he befriended King David Kalakaua. In 1887, Stevenson bought a splendid three hundred acre plantation while in Apia, the capital of Upolu, Samoa. He called it Vailima. It means “Five Rivers.” He crafted tales for the locals and they fondly bestowed the nickname, Tusitala, which means “Teller of Tales.” And he lived up to it. He co-authored several magnificent books with his stepson Lloyd. In the wonderful climate, R.L. Stevenson felt amazing. Freed from the confines of his bed and a sickly body, he gallantly rode horses and chopped down trees. Sadly, he perished in 1894. The locals carried his body up to Mount Vaca and buried it there. His gravestone gazes at the sea with its glorious view and inscribed on it is a beautiful poem called “Requiem.” Robert Louis Stevenson left this earth with so much joy, creativity, and quite frankly, works of art.

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