Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894  Stevenson family with visitors at Vailima, 1893

An island landfall

Finances — and his precarious state of health — meant that Robert Louis Stevenson's cruising life could not go on indefinitely. However, he was increasingly fascinated by the Pacific islands and their peoples.

House at Valima
A visit to Samoa proved to be decisive. Stevenson bought some acres of land and had a house built at Vailima. He wrote about his life there to his friend R D Blackmore, the author of 'Lorna Doone':

'For the first time, I find myself a landholder and a farmer … the work seizes and enthralls me … I would rather do a good hour's work weeding Sensitive — our deadliest enemy — than write two pages of my best.'

Stevenson seemed to enjoy his new role as head of the household at Vailima. He developed an active interest in local politics, and indulged himself by writing letters to 'The Times' about Samoan affairs. The native Samoans quickly adopted this eccentric Scotsman, calling him 'Tusitala', which means 'story-teller'.

 Vailima group
 'Island Nights' Entertainments' cover Entertaining King Kalakaua
  Stevenson before his death



NLS logo