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Lewis Balfour

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Lewis Balfour

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ROBERT LEWIS BALFOUR STEVENSON, British essayist, novelist and poet, was the only child of Thomas STEVENSON, civil engineer, and his wife, Margaret Isabella BALFOUR. He was born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, on 13 of November 1850. He suffered from infancy from great fragility of health, and nearly died in 1858 of gastric fever, which left a constitutional weakness behind it. From the age of six, he showed disposition to write. He went to school, mainly in Edinburgh, from 1858 to 1867, but his ill-health prevented him learning much, and his teachers, as his mother afterwards say, liked talking to him better than teaching him. He often accompanied his father on his official visits to lighthouses of Scottish coast and on longer journeys, thus early accustoming himself to travel. As his health improved, it was hopped that he would be able to adopt the Family profession of civil engineering, and in 1868 he went to Anstruther and then to Wick as pupil engineer. In 1871 he had so far advanced as to receive a silver medal from the Edinburgh Society of Arts for a paper suggesting improvements to the lighthouse apparatus. But long before this, he had started as an author. His earliest publication, anonymous pamphlet of Pentland Rising, appeared in 1866, and Charity Bazaar, trifle in which his future manner is happily display, in 1868. From about the age of eighteen, he dropped his baptismal name of LEWIS BALFOUR and called himself ROBERT Louis, but was mostly known to his relatives and intimate friends as Louis. Although he greatly enjoyed the outdoor business of engineer's life, it strained his physical endurance too much, and in 1871, was reluctantly exchanged for study at an Edinburgh bar, to which he was called in 1875. In 1873, he first met Mr Sidney Colvin, who was to prove closest of his friends and at last loyal and admirable editor of his works and his correspondence; and to this time are attribute several of most valuable friendships of STEVENSON's Life. He was now labouring, with extreme assiduity, to ground himself in the forms and habits of literary style. In 1875 appear, anonymously, his Appeal to the Clergy of the Church of Scotland, and in that year he made the first of many visits to the forest of Fontainebleau. Meanwhile, at Mentone in the winter of1873-1874he had grown in mind under the shadow of extreme physical weakness, and in the following spring began to contribute Essays of high originality to one or two periodicals, of which Cornhill, then edited by Sir Leslie Stephen, was at first most important. STEVENSON made no attempt to practice at a bar, and the next years were spent on wandering in France, Germany and Scotland. Records of these journeys, and of innocent adventures which they encourage, were given to the world as Inland Voyage in 1878, and as Travels with Donkey in Cevennes in 1879.

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Life

He was born on 30 August 1777 at Pilrig House between Edinburgh and Leith, son of John Balfour of Pilrig, son of James Balfour. His mother was Jean Whytt of Bennochy Lodge near Kirkcaldy in Fife, daughter of Dr Robert Whytt. He was christened on 14 May 1777 in South Leith Parish Church. In August 1806, he was ordain as minister of Sorn. In 1824, he was translated to Colinton Parish, South-west of Edinburgh and remained there for the rest of his life. From 1850 onwards, his young grandson, Robert Louis Stevenson, was a frequent visitor. He died at Colinton Manse on 24 April 1860. He is buried in an open vault on the north side of Colinton Parish Church, between James Gillespie and Admiral John Inglis.


Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850 - 1894)

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was born on 13 November 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was the only child of respectable middle-class parents. His father, Thomas, belonged to a family of engineers who had built most of the deep-sea lighthouses around the coast of Scotland. His mother, Margaret Isabella Balfour, comes from a family of lawyers and church ministers. Throughout his childhood, he suffered chronic health problems that confined him to bed. These illnesses persist throughout his life, taking the form of fevers, coughing, bronchial infections, and eventually Bluidy Jack, hemorrhaging of lungs. Stevenson had limited formal education as his health kept him either at home or retreating to health spas with his family. Perhaps his strongest influence at this time was his nurse, Alison Cunningham, who regularly read him religious stories, often from the Old Testament, Catechisms, and Bunyans Pilgrims Progress. This somewhat isolated childhood leads to the development of fine imagination through which dreams of being a writer develop.

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Biographical Summary

Lewis Balfour, born in Edinburgh, 30 Aug. 1777, third son of John B. Of Pilrig, and Jean, daugh. Of Robert Whyte of Bennochy, Professor of Medicine at Univ. Of Edinburgh; educated at Edinburgh High School and Univ.; Licen. By Presb. Of Edinburgh 30 Jan. 1805; ord. To Sorn 28 Aug. 1806; pres. By James, Earl of Lauderdale; trans, and adm. 28 Aug. 1823; DD; die 24 April 1860. He marr. 26 April 1808, Henrietta Scott, third daugh. Of George Smith, DD, min. Of Galston, and had issue John, surgeon, HETCS, born 8 July 1809, died 13 Dec. 1886; Marion, born 29 Oct. 1811, died 14 Dec. 1884; George Smith, born 20 July 1813, died 3 May 1816; Jane Whyte, born 6 Nov. 1816, died 6 Feb. 1907; Lewis, merchant, born 14 Sept. 1817, die 13 Feb. 1870; James, born 30 July 1819, die 20 June 1824; William Somerville, born and died 1821; George William, MD, ll. Dedinburgh, born 2 June 1823, died 9 Aug. 1903; Mackintosh, manager, Agra Bank, born 9 March 1825, died 7 June 1884; son, born and died 1826; Henrietta Louisa, born 14 Jan. 1828, died 25 Nov. 1855; Margaret Isabella, born 11 Feb. 1829, died 14 May 1897; James Melville, CE, born 8 June 1831, die 18 Dec. 1869.

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Margaret Isabella Stevenson (nee Balfour)

Sitter in 2 portraits Margaret Isabella Balfour, daughter of Lewis Balfour, Minister of Colinton, marries Thomas Stevenson in 1848. Together, they had one child, writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Margaret devotes herself to caring for her tubercular son. She travel with him to the Continent and to America. When he went to live in Apia in Samoa for his health, she swiftly set out for the Pacific in 1891. By that time, he was married to Fanny, American divorcee. Stevenson went to meet his mother in Sydney but fell ill, requiring her immediate nursing. When they arrived in Apia, the house was still incomplete. Margaret returned to Sydney, coming back when it was habitable. Life revolves around Stevenson's writing. After his sudden death in 1894, Margaret returned to Scotland to mourn.

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Sources

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