R. L. Stevenson Best Quotes 💬

Stevenson is famous for his simple and easy-to-understand yet scholarly works even after centuries passed.

Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850 - 1894), Scottish

His writing conveys his personal experiences and understanding of the situation, people, and society. He speaks about life, travel, inspiration to living, friendship, dealing with oneself, and many other ideas he observed over time. The following ten quotes taken from his works exemplify how R. L. Stevenson perceived life around him. 

R. L. Stevenson Best Quotes

Human Nature

…It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both..

These lines come from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Stevenson’s brilliant novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, where he summarises his view on the duality of human nature to Utterson through a letter. He points out humans to be a combination of virtuous and criminal, moral and amoral at the same time. During his research, he tries to separate Good and Evil, only to find that he could only remain the mixture of both even though he could separate Hyde. Also, the Evil side predominates the Good side, especially in his case. 

…it was the horror I had upon my mind of falling from the cross-trees into that still green water beside the body of the coxswain. I clung with both hands till my nails ached, and I shut my eyes as if to cover up the peril. Gradually my mind came back again, my pulses quieted down to a more natural time, and I was once more in possession of myself…

Stevenson draws a fine line between the Good and Bad with Jim and Israel Hands with their characteristics in these lines in Treasure Island. After realizing that he has killed Israel Hands, who was drunk and out of his control, Jim has these thoughts. Contrastingly, he holds on to himself with complete awareness not to fall into the water where Israel Hands lies dead. With his newfound understanding of personal identity, Jim defines himself as different from the pirates. 

…I have a better taunt in readiness; when I lie down and die, you will feel it like a buffet in your face; ah, what a revenge! ah, how you will regret your ingratitude and cruelty!…

In the novel “Kidnapped”, these lines uttered by David speak about his silly attempt to take revenge on his friend by dying. David hopes to make Alan suffer in remembrance of how much he owed him by dying alone in a desert. Through this, Stevenson emphasizes how human minds work at the time of total loss and misery. 

There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people. 

In chapter 16 of “Kidnapped”, David utters these words after encountering and understanding Mr Henderland. He smiles at the man for being contradictory to his words and actions. Soon after listening to the long conversation of the simple and poor old man, he feels humbled in himself. Further, combined with happiness and pride being with the man, he speaks about how goodness and humility are not commonly seen in this materialist world.

Life & Friendship

we are all travellers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world—all, too, travellers with a donkey: and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend

In the first chapter of “Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes”, Stevenson compares life to a journey and everyone as a traveler, quoting the words of John Bunyan. Everyone travels in the wilderness of the world without knowing the proper path or destination, with a donkey of their own. Despite the barrenness of the journey, to have a smooth journey, he concludes that all one needs is a good friend. 

To perform the function of a man of letters it is not necessary to write; nay, it is perhaps better to be a living book. So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.

In chapter four of “Lay Morals,” Stevenson speaks about the importance of being a model not by words but by actions. A man of letters need not put his thoughts into words, but he could be a living book. As long as a person loves to serve humanity and be loved by others, he will be considered an essential part of the world. Also, he highlights how one who has a friend is something more than that. Stevenson feels that any man would be indispensable as long he has a friend and is willing to serve mankind.

…for the first time began to understand the desperate game that we play in life; and how a thing once done is not to be changed or remedied, by any penitence…

Appearing in Book III, Chapter IV of “the Black Arrow,” these lines speak about the actuality of life. Dick is in a cheerful mood over the victory of the war when he meets Arblaster, who grieves over the loss of his ship and his friend Tom. He complaints that if not for Dick, he would have safely sailed away with his Tom. Observing the situation, Dick realizes how the game of life is played and how certain things are done can never be restored.


…There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world…

In his “An Apology for Idlers”, Robert Louis Stevenson tells us how important it is to be happy and spread happiness. For he thinks, being happy is an obligation people take lightly. When a person is happy, he eventually turns the world around him happy, knowingly or unknowingly. One may not know what they leave behind by being happy, but many benefits are left behind.

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

These are the lines of the shortest poem written by R L Stevenson. In this short yet meaningful poem, he incorporates his idea of finding happiness. The poet tells the world that we can all be happy as kings if we pay close attention to the numerous things around us. His ultimate idea is that happiness is everywhere; one has to find it.


What are some unique characteristics of Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing?

Writing in an easy-to-understand language is the specialty of R L Stevenson. Centuries after his works are famous and used as a part of the School and College curriculum is sheer evidence of his writing style and depiction of his age. His personal approach and experiences help to convey his ideas very well.

What inspired Stevenson to become a writer?

Throughout his boyhood and youth, Stevenson suffered severe health conditions for which he had to travel to different places, and his nanny encouraged him to read books. Eventually, he was inspired, and he started to write about his experiences and feelings. Publishing at a very young age with the support of his father is evident indeed.

Did Stevenson use a pseudonym for publishing Treasure Island?

Treasure Island published as chapters in the “Young Folks” magazine were published under the pseudonym ‘Captain George North’. He has done it to create an early impression among the readers. Later, he used his proper name when it was published as a book.

Who wrote the words written on Stevenson’s Tombstone?

On Stevenson’s tombstone carved is a poem called “Requiem,” which he began in 1879 while crossing America on the emigrant train. Fearing he might be dying, he wrote the poem.

Miz Alb
About Miz Alb
Miz Alb is a passionate reader of literature. She loves to look deep through the nuances of a literary work. She has secured her post-graduation in English Literature. With her learning as a background, she is analyzing the literary works down the ages.
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