If they were alive today we might label them jet-setters, but in the period of time when they lived travel was much more complicated.
Robert could have lived the life of a modern day blogger. He said, ”We are in such a haste to be doing, to be writing, to be gathering gear, to make our voices audible a moment in the derisive silence of eternity, that we forget that one thing, of which these are but parts – namely to live!”
Robert emerged from a wealthy engineering family known for designing state of the art lighthouses. He earned a law degree but had no desire to practice law. He began dressing in a trendy way (for his time) and hanging out in the art colonies of Europe hoping to earn a living as a writer. He traveled to a French hot spot for would-be artists called Gerz hoping to improve his health, where he fell head over heels in love with a woman from America who had traveled there to study art.
She fled to America when the relationship grew serious and he followed the object of his affections across an ocean and a continent to make her his.
Isn’t this romantic?
Her name was Fanny and she had been born in Indianapolis. At the time they met she was married, although separated from her husband, a war veteran with an interest in silver mines and other women.
In addition, the lady in question was ten years older than Robert and had two young children, (she also had a third child that had recently died) while he had never been married or had children and was prone to ill health.
Fanny seemed fascinating and exotic to Robert. She had roughed it in a Nevada mining town, learned to shoot a pistol, and had fled her bad marriage and the Wild West to study art in Europe. It was love at first sight. The budding author, published an article called “On Falling in Love” after he met the enticing Fanny.
Fanny fled Europe, as well as Robert, returning to California when the relationship grew too serious. Fanny was not prepared to endure the scandal of a divorce. Robert’s parents refused to pay his way to California to follow the much older, somewhat scandalous married mother of two. He had to earn and save his own money to afford the trip to see her again in person and convince her to divorce her husband. Robert crossed the U.S. writing travelogues about his journey and finally persuaded Fanny to be his.
The pair enjoyed a three week long honeymoon spent at an abandoned silver mine in California then he knuckled down to write stories and poems for children. As everybody knows, behind every successful man is a woman and it seems that their marriage triggered his popularity as well as a stream of creativity. After their marriage his writing shifted from intellectual exercises and travelogues to fiction and prose. His efforts started to sell and he penned some of the world’s most beloved children’s fiction. Once success touched their lives they decided to sail around the Pacific, living on various islands, including the Gilbert Islands, Hawaii, and Samoa.
This sounds like Sheer Bliss.
Have you guessed who this author is?
Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” found his soul mate in the person of Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne.
Robert Louis Stevenson was born Nov 11, 1850 while Fanny was born March 10, 1840.
All the travels, bohemian behavior and chasing across continents occurred against the backdrop of the 1870s.
The comparison chart of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny shows that their astrological charts work well together. Her natal chart shows the Sun conjunct Uranus trine Jupiter and her Jupiter locks her dynamic trine in place, anchored to Stevenson’s natal Sun conjunct Juno. He triggered everything wonderful, exciting and wise about Fanny and she brought the benefit of her free and independent spirit to his inspiring nature. The two of them together were destined for travel, creativity and romance. It of course helps that they had several Cinderella Linkages involving Neptune and Chiron making it a lasting romance. All the signs of True Love are there.
The proof is that once married to Fanny, Stevenson’s talents blossomed. His collection of poems called “A Children’s Garden Of Verses” is still in print. The fiction works that brought his name into prominence were also published after his marriage. The children’s adventure books of lasting popularity included “Treasure Island,” “Kidnapped,” and “The Black Arrow.” “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” one of the first psychological thrillers/horror stories, was published in this era.
Travel and exotic locations were obviously on the mind of Robert Louis Stevenson when he penned the adventure tale of Long John Silver in “Treasure Island” which initially appeared in serial form for a children’s magazine.
When you learn the history of this couple and think about their honeymoon in that defunct silver mine, you understand why the iconic pirate was named Long John Silver rather than Peg-Leg John Gold.
Once fame and fortune came their way the lovebirds decided to sail around the Pacific in 1888, living on various islands for short periods. They spent time with the Hawaiian royal family, as they had a distant connection, and lived next door to the young girl who would become known as Princess Ka’iulani. While island hopping they fell in love with Samoa and purchased property there. The couple lived there until Stevenson’s death in 1894.
Stevenson died on December 3, 1894 and you may recognize part of the epithet on his grave marker below.
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
He left us a wonderful legacy of prose and fiction all due to his inspiration and his muse, Fanny.