The strange case of Robert Louis Stevenson

Doctors figure prominently in the works of Stevenson — unsurprising perhaps, since it was true of his life too.

Stevenson’s life and work is always of great interest to doctors. He grew up in the most medical of all British cities, Edinburgh, he was surrounded by doctors and medical students, and he was ill from childhood. He was driven abroad not only by romantic, bohemian restlessness, but by the search for a curative climate for his chronic ill-health.

He spent months on the island of Abemama, in the Gilbert Islands in the central Pacific, where I once worked for three years. Abemama, which in Stevenson’s day was under the sway of a petty tyrant, is still very remote today; and it inspired some of his later writing.

 

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