The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 13 (of 25)
Robert Louis Stevenson
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It is a biography book. Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson  at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850 to Margaret Isabella Balfour (1829–1897) and Thomas Stevenson (1818–1887), a leading lighthouse engineer.  Lighthouse design was the family profession: Thomas's own father (Robert's grandfather) was the famous Robert Stevenson, while Thomas's maternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, and brothers, Alan and David, were also in the business. On Margaret's side, the family were gentry, tracing their name back to an Alexander Balfour, who held the lands of Inchrye in Fife in the fifteenth century. Her father, Lewis Balfour (1777–1860), was a minister of the Church of Scotland at nearby Colinton. Stevenson spent the greater part of his boyhood holidays in his house. 'Now I often wonder', wrote Stevenson, 'what I inherited from this old minister. I must suppose, indeed, that he was fond of preaching sermons, and so am I, though I never heard it maintained that either of us loved to hear them'. Lewis Balfour and his daughter both had weak chests, so they often needed to stay in warmer climates for their health. Stevenson inherited a tendency to coughs and fevers, exacerbated when the family moved to a damp, chilly house at 1 Inverleith Terrace in 1851. The family moved again to the sunnier 17 Heriot Row when Stevenson was six years old, but the tendency to extreme sickness in winter remained with him until he was eleven. Illness would be a recurrent feature of his adult life and left him extraordinarily thin. Contemporary views were that he had tuberculosis, but more recent views are that it was bronchiectasis or even sarcoidosis.