Robert Louis Stevenson:: A Biography

F. J. McLynn, Author, Frank McLynn, Author Random House (NY) $30 (567p) ISBN 978-0-679-41284-7
This massive biography is propelled by the conviction that Stevenson (1850-1894) was not merely a writer of adventure yarns for boys but Scotland's greatest writer and a major influence on Conrad, Wilde and even Yeats. In lucid, erudite prose, McLynn (Fitzroy Maclean) examines the forces that decisively shaped Stevenson's work. Protracted bouts of tuberculosis and a volatile relationship with his Calvinist father stimulated a moral pessimism that shadows even an apparently escapist adventure story like Treasure Island. The author gives sustained attention to Stevenson's relationship with Fanny Osbourne, the ``rum creature''-vain, neurasthenic, opportunistic, according to McLynn-who became his wife. She persuaded him to burn a complete draft of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and exhausted the considerable sums Stevenson's work came to command. Frantically straining to counter her extravagance, the physically fragile novelist hastened his own death. Photos. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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