[The following passage comes from the author's Robert Louis StevensonGeorge P. Landow.]

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n 1876 he met Mrs. Osbourne at Grez. She was living separated from her husband. She and Stevenson fell in love with one another, so that when in 1878 she was obliged to return to Cali- fornia he followed next year, without consultation with his parents. He felt that he could scarcely make them understand his position. They did not know the lady or her story. They would have looked at the undeniable fact that she was a married woman, whilst the explanation that it was proposed to obtain a divorce and legally and properly unite the lovers would only have made things worse, Stevenson proposed to earn his living in America as a writer. Perhaps he might, but he never had a proper chance. He was struck down by severe illness. His efforts after work in New York, San Francisco, and Monterey were not very successful, though he was toiling, on his own account, all the time. It was then he wrote “The Pavilion on the Links,” which some English critics have, oddly enough, considered his best story. For the first and last time in his life he felt the actual pinch of poverty. To this illness was added. He met the strokes of ill-fortune with splendid courage, though the evil days were only matters of months.

From April 1880 he was allowed an income of £250 a year from home. It was generous and prudent on the father's part. It preserved as far as we can see the son's life; though it is probable that what he then suffered brought about a bodily state that was to render residence in Europe impossible. Mrs. Osboume had in the meantime obtained a divorce, and on 19th May 1880 he married her as Fanny Van de Grift at San Francisco. On 17th August 1880 R. L. S. and his wife landed in Liverpool, where they were met by his father and mother. Mrs. Stevenson the younger endeared herself to the parents of her husband. In every way his choice seems to have been a happy one. Such is his own testimony, and the testimony of his intimate friends. There as elsewhere he was to show the essential wisdom of his action in spite of all appearance to the contrary. But that is only from one point of view. It is difficult to trace the ill-health from which he suffered during the next eight years to anything but his privations during the sojourn in America. He was a young man of a healthy stock. It seemed probable that he would outgrow his early maladies and be strong and well. Everything promised fair. He was happily married, on the best of terms with his parents, not in want of money, finally settled in writing as the business of his life as it was the darling of his choice, then it was becoming every day more evident that he was going to make a great success; though he came of a famous family he was to be the most famous of them all, if the Stevensons ended with him the end was to be a climax of triumphs. Yet ill-health made the next eight years a long-drawn-out tragedy, only relieved by the invincible cheerfulness and courage of the sufferer, and his constant labour, not merely in the intervals but through days and nights of pain.


Cruse, Amy. Robert Louis Stevenson. George G. Harrap, 1905 Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Connecticut Library. Web. 9 October 2014.

Last modified 10 October 2014