Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894  James Naysmith's sketch of Swanston near Edinburgh

Ordered south

Robert Louis Stevenson never enjoyed good health, and this had a profound effect on both his life and work.

Even short periods spent in the 'meteorological purgatory' of Edinburgh always led to a decline, and to his being despatched to a warmer climate. In itself this was not a great hardship, because he loved travelling. Despite his ill health, he undertook quite strenuous journeys.

Travels with a donkey
As a young man he often tramped around the outskirts of Edinburgh, and visited the fashionable health resorts on the French Riviera with his parents. In 1876 he set out with his friend Walter Simpson, and canoed through the rivers and canals of Belgium and north-east France.

Two years later, Stevenson undertook his famous walk through the Cevennes with the donkey Modestine.

Settings for his novels
He published accounts of the journeys which he made throughout his life, and he also used the places he had visited as settings for his novels. When his body failed him and he was confined to bed, he travelled in his imagination.

Swanston in the Pentland Hills  Cover of Travels with a Donkey
 Frontispiece of An Inland Voyage
  Frontispiece of Travels with a Donkey



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