Treasure Island - a Mirror of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Childhood?

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Treasure Island - A Mirror of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Childhood?

Often there can be seen many parallels between a writer’s life and experiences and his or her works. A biographical approach to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is not easy, as at first sight the characters don’t have much in common with the author and up to the time the story was written, Stevenson hadn’t visited the West Indies or other exotic places. But there still are possibilities to link Stevenson’s biography with his work.

Robert Louis Stevenson was born on 13th November 1850 as the only child of Thomas Stevenson, a lighthouse engineer, and Margaret Isabella Balfour, a minister’s daughter. From his early childhood on R.L. Stevenson suffered from a poor health. During his long periods of illnesses his parents and his nanny sat by his bedside and told or read out stories to him. His nanny for example used to read out from the Bible, as she was a very religious person and his father even invented stories for him. According to David Daiches, Thomas Stevenson ‘had a romantic imagination, and put himself to sleep nightly with stories of ships, roadside inns, robbers, old sailors, and commercial travellers before the era of steam.’ (David Daiches, Robert Louis Stevenson and his world, p. 8) He entertained his small son with similar stories which certainly had a great effect on the young boy. R.L. Stevenson was barely six years old when he dictated to his mother ‘A History of Moses’, a mixture of accurately remembered biblical language and a child’s narrative style. Growing he became more and more interested in literature. Because of his frequent sickness his attendance at school became fairly sporadic and in general he was regarded as a rather solitary boy who spent his free time reading and writing, who made up games for himself and who lived very much on his own imagination. He also often accompanied his father to the seaside. This seemed to have a fascinating impact on him and...
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