Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Robert Louis Stevenson

Hello and happy mid-week readers! Welcome to Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Each week bloggers share their favorite quotes to motivate and inspire one another to keep think, writing, and working towards our goals. My contribution for the week is from the Scottish novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson.

robert_louis_stevenson_knox_seriesRobert Lewis Balfour Stevenson was born on November 13th, 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. At about age 18, Stevenson was to change the spelling of “Lewis” to “Louis”, and in 1873, he dropped “Balfour.”

His father was a leading lighthouse engineer and lighthouse design was the family business. As a child, he was often sickly, which kept him frequently out of school and in the care of private tutors. He got especially sick in the winter months and throughout his life which left him extremely thin. It is thought that he suffered from tuberculosis, or bronchiectasis, or even sarcoidosis.

He was an only child, strange-looking and eccentric, and had a hard time fitting in with the other kids. He compulsively wrote stories throughout his childhood. His father was proud of this interest; he had also written stories in his spare time until his own father found them and told him to “give up such nonsense and mind your business.” He paid for the printing of Robert’s first publication at sixteen, The Pentland Rising: A Page of History, 1666.

In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson saw the publication of his first volume of work, An Inland Voyage; the book provides an account of his trip from Antwerp to northern France, which he made in a canoe via the river Oise.

The 1880s were notable for both Stevenson’s declining health and his impressive literary output. He suffered from hemorrhaging lungs (likely caused by undiagnosed tuberculosis), and writing was one of the few activities he could do while confined to bed. While in this bedridden state, he wrote some of his most popular fiction, Treasure Island in 1883, Kidnapped in 1886, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886, and The Black Arrow in 1888.

He wrote many more books and was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov. Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that critics have begun to look beyond Stevenson’s popularity and allow him a place in the Western canon.

On December 3rd, 1894, he died of an apparent cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

// Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson

Every since I can remember I have loved books, both books that you read and books that you write in. I am a notorious collector of journals and a hoarder of books I have yet to read. I have taken breaks from both and always when I return I can never recall why I ever thought I could live without either.

I am sure to stick to both habits now that I wish writing to be my primary means of income one day. The professionals say a writer should always be writing, and if not, he ought to always be reading. I take that very seriously and make sure that no matter where I am or how inappropriate it may seem, carry around both my books and use them whenever the urge strikes.

I had tried after the break before last, to switch over to carrying around the digital equivalent of both. I used iBooks on my iPad to read and I used Evernote on my phone to write. I couldn’t find fault with either app and I certainly saw the merits of the method but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t feel the same passion I felt of the physical versions. I missed the smell of new and old books and I missed the feel of a good pen in my hand, and so I’ve switched back. I now carry three notebooks, a bullet journal, and personal journal, and a pocket notebook.

I carry around only one book at a time. I have realized that the problem I had with Ebooks is that there are too many options. I can’t get into any one book because I am always carrying around so many at once. I cannot fully immerse myself in the world of one author because I am wondering if there is a more interesting world in another. One book at a time forces you to really enjoy what you have because there will not be another story to occupy your mind until you finish this one.

So I have to agree with Stevenson and urge you to take up the advice if you aren’t already. Get you a good book and a clean notebook to jot your thoughts in. Read the one and write in the other as often as you can.

And if you ever get bored with either, switch it up. Try writing in your reading book, or reading over your writing book.

It will breathe life into both :)


Biographical information via Wikipedia, Goodreads, and Biography.com

Original image via See-ming Lee


6 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Robert Louis Stevenson”

  1. Awww, Lisa. You are a girl after my own heart! I read constantly. When I am not reading I am writing. I figure that is the only way to learn and get better at honing my craft. I think Stevenson knew what he was talking about for sure! EXCELLENT quote! <3


  2. I find missing reading an actual book is becoming more of a thing with me. Especially so when I get to a really good part I know I want to revisit..can’t crease the top of the page for flipping back later:) I enjoyed this post a lot:)


  3. What an interesting post. I too am a book lover (real, paper and print books). It amazes me when I meet people who choose not to read because I can’t imagine life with out it. When I was a little girl one of my favorite books was “A Children’s Garden of Verses” a collection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. I loved it so much that when I had children of my own, I shared it with them as well. Thank you for including Mr Stevenson life history. I had never heard it before and so many of the children’s poems in the book take on a whole new meaning now.


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