Author Biographies

R.L. (Robert Louis) Stevenson (1850–1894) was born in Edinburgh in 1850 and was a Scottish novelist, travel writer, essayist and poet. A sickly child, he was often taught at home by private tutors. He enrolled at Edinburgh University to study engineering, but switched to law. He spent a year on the French Riviera to recuperate from ill-health and whilst there developed his love of art. He married Fanny (an American divorcee) in 1880 and they spent the next seven years living and travelling between the UK and America. Three years spent touring the Pacific and South Seas then followed, and his travel writing from this period formed the backdrop for many of his novels. In 1890 Stevenson purchased some land and settled in Upolu, an island in Samoa. He died there in 1894 of a suspected cerebral haemorrhage aged 44. Best known for Kidnapped and Treasure Island, Stevenson was a literary celebrity during his lifetime and now ranks among the 30 most translated authors in the world.
R. M. Ballantyne (1825–1894) was born in 1825 in Edinburgh. He was a Scottish writer of children’s fiction who wrote more than 100 books. In addition to writing adventure stories for the young he was also an accomplished artist and exhibited his work at the Royal Scottish Academy. He went to Canada aged 16 and spent five years working for the Hudson's Bay Company, often travelling by canoe and sleigh to trade with the Native Americans. He returned to Scotland and published his first book based on his Canadian experiences. He always tried to write based on personal experiences, variously living in a lighthouse and working in a tin mine. Stevenson, Barrie and William Golding all recognised Ballantyne as an influence on their work. He spent his later years in London before moving to Italy for health reasons. He died in Rome in 1894.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born in Edinburgh in 1859. He was a Scottish author, doctor and sportsman, best known for his detective stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. He was educated at a Jesuit boarding school in England and then in Austria, and then studied medicine at Edinburgh University and then ophthalmology in Vienna. Doyle is also known for the fictional adventures of a second character he invented, Professor Challenger, and for his role in popularising the mystery of the Mary Celeste. He began writing fiction whilst waiting for patients. His first ‘Holmes’ novel was published in 1886. He was a prolific writer whose works included historical novels, science fiction and fantasy, poetry, non-fiction and plays. He died at his home in Sussex of a heart attack in 1930 aged 71.
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