Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was born in Edinburgh. In the brief span of forty-four years, dogged by poor health, he made an enormous contribution to English literature with his novels, poetry, and essays. The son of upper-middle-class parents, he was the victim of lung trouble from birth, and spent a sheltered childhood surrounded by constant care. In 1880, he married Mrs. Fanny Osbourne, a woman ten years his senior. The balance of his life was taken up with his unremitting devotion to work, and a search for a cure to his illness that took him all over the world. His travel essays were published widely, and his short fiction was gathered in many volumes. His first full-length work of fiction, Treasure Island, was published in 1883 and brought him great fame, which only increased with the publication of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). He followed with the Scottish romances Kidnapped (1886) and The Master of Ballantrae (1889). In 1888, he set out with his family for the South Seas, traveling to the leper colony at Molokai, and finally settling in Samoa, where he died.
John Seelye is a leading American Studies scholar and professor of English at the University of Florida at Gainesville. He is the author of The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Prophetic Waters: The River in Early American Life and Literature.
Claire Harman is a distinguished critic and author of biographies of Sylvia Townsend Warner (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006, she has taught English at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford and creative writing at Columbia University.