Wherever he went, he inspired people there, and the places he visited became the inspiration for his writings, which in turn left a lasting legacy. Robert Louis Stevenson’s house in Samoa is now a museum carrying all the memories and souvenirs of the writer. Not only that, we have a few more places converted as museums to propagate his contribution to literature and his life. His memories are preserved at some of the notable museums holding a special place for this unfortunate yet famous writer.
Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage (Baker Cottage), Saranac Lake
The Stevenson Memorial Cottage Stevenson Lane, maintained by the Stevenson Society of America, is the first Stevenson museum that opened in 1915. It received donations from Lloyd and Belle after the death of Fanny. Originally a single-family cottage built by guide Andrew Baker where
Stevenson stayed with his mother, Fanny, and Lloyd from October 1887 to April 1888. During his stay here, he wrote several essays, including Pulvis et Umbra, The Lantern Bearers, and Christmas Sermon, finished the Master of Ballantrae, and revised the manuscript of The Wrong Box.
Collections in the Museum
The Museum contains the original furniture from Stevenson’s stay, books and seven albums of photographs and newspaper cuttings received from the Stevenson Society of America, photocopies of the Monterey Scrapbooks), paintings, Davos woodcut blocks, and his artifacts used during his stay. The mantelpiece in the house still has burns left by Stevenson’s lighted cigarettes.
It also has Scrapbooks that carry notes of his writings, including An Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey, Jekyll and Hyde, Kidnapped, and ‘1894: In Memoriam.’
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Vailima
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in Samoa, a curated version of his residence, as Stevenson lived in it. He lived the last five years of his life and was buried on top of Mount Vaea, a short distance directly above the house. On December 5, 1994, one hundred years after his death, The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum/Preservation Foundation dedicated the completely restored building of Vailima and opened it to the public. It contains many of his original pieces of work—overseas donations funded its establishment.
Collections in the Museum
Robert Louis Stevenson’s books, art, manuscripts, and memorabilia are kept as a permanent gift to the public. Especially, his materials and historical artifacts are actively solicited, and many of his first editions are being collected and displayed in the Museum.
Stevenson House State Historical Monument, Monterey
Girardin’s French House, where Stevenson lived from September to December 1879, waiting for Fanny’s divorce, is now made a memorial museum.
Collections in the Museum
The French House Museum contains many artifacts belonging to him, his wife, and his mother. It has articles of furniture, first editions, and manuscripts of his books, four of his mother’s scrapbooks of reviews. It also has Fanny’s Samoa diary, photographs, and memorabilia. It also has four scrapbooks from 1881-1886, 1887-1890, 1889-1893, 1893-1894, and the fifth with biographical cuttings on the Stevensons and Balfours.
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, St Helena, CA
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, St Helena was founded in 1969 by Norman H. and Charlotte Strouse. After his wedding with Fanny in San Francisco on May 19, 1880, Stevenson set off on an adventurous honeymoon to the Napa Valley. They spent their time around the valley until the end of July. Now, the place has become a spot of attraction, and the people can visit the site and follow his path as featured in his travelogue, ‘The Silverado Squatters.’
Collection in the Museum
The Museum has a wide range of collections, including letters from Stevenson and Fanny, and manuscripts and notes including 38 poems, ‘Note’ to The Master of Ballantrae, ‘A Mountain Town in France,’ notebook with ‘On the Art of Literature’; version of ‘Lay Morals’, Notes on Niue, and Lloyd Osbourne’s Casco diary. Moreover, it has sculptures, photographs, marriage license, wedding ring, and other memorabilia.
Other Museums with Stevenson Collections
The Writers’ Museum, (Edinburgh Museums & Galleries)
The Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh Museums & Galleries has a rich collection of personal items, his manuscripts including his ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses.’ It also contains his letters to W.E. Henley and Alison Cunningham, paintings, and an extensive archive of photographs. His wardrobe made by the infamous Deacon Brodie is also kept in the Museum. It is a common observation that his life inspired his novel ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.’
The collection also has four albums of photographs taken during June-December 1889, Lloyd Osbourne’s album containing scenes and incidents connected with the Casco Cruise and visits to various Pacific Islands. Also, the images and photographs of scenes and incidents in Samoa after 1889, collected by Miss Jane Whyte Balfour.
Monastier, Haute-Loire, France, Musee Municipal, Chateau du Prieur
The Museum has dedicated one of the rooms to Stevenson and his journey in the Cévennes. Not only that, but the town hall of Monastier also contains documents about Stevenson’s journey.
Brandywine River Museum, The N.C. Wyeth Studio
Brandywine River Museum displays paintings of Stevenson’s works in rotation. The illustrations are from his works ‘Treasure Island,’ ‘Kidnapped,’ and ‘The Black Arrow.’
Why is Robert Louis Stevenson buried in Samoa?
Robert Louis Stevenson settled down in Samoa and lived the last four years of his life. Even before his unexpected death on December 3, 1894, he made it clear that he be buried at the mountain top.
What type of works were written by Stevenson after he came to live in Samoa?
After settling in Samoa, Stevenson was worried about the level of European and American influence in the South Sea islands. Thus, he changed his writings style from the usual romance and adventure fiction towards harsh realism that dealt with the life of people at South Sea islands.
Why did Stevenson settle in Samoa?
Frequently ill from childhood, Stevenson had traveled to many locations in search of a warmer climate. In 1888, he set sail and spent three years traveling through the South Pacific before he eventually settled in the Samoan Islands, which fit his health.
How did the Pacific influence the writings of Stevenson?
When Stevenson traveled through the Pacific, he was greatly inspired by the scenery that fed his imagination to write about it. He has written about the life of Pacific islands in Island Nights’ Entertainments (1893), In the South Seas (1896), The Wrecker (1892), and The Ebb-Tide (1894).
When did R. L. Stevenson die?
Stevenson died on December 3, 1894, in Vailima, Samoa. Even though he suffered frail health due to tuberculosis, he died due to a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44.