Happy birthday Robert Louis Stevenson!

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Robert Louis Stevenson by Count Girolamo Nerli © Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Robert Louis Stevenson by Count Girolamo Nerli © Scottish National Portrait Gallery

If you are one of the countless brave gentleman across the world cultivating your facial hair this month for the annual charity event Movember and have yet to find a ‘Mo Bro’ icon worthy of imitation, you should consider modelling your ‘tache after that of the great Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

In addition to penning such classic works as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Catriona and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the masterful storyteller was also known for sporting bohemian velvet attire and an extremely dapper moustache which you too can don (albeit a paper cut-out one you can download) on Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2013 which takes place on his birthday, 13 November.

One of Edinburgh’s most famous sons, Stevenson was born in ‘Auld Reekie’ in 1850 and led a largely nomadic existence before finally settling and dying soon after in Samoa at the premature age of 44. A law graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Stevenson opted not to enter the family business of lighthouse building, instead pursuing a career as a man of letters. Spurred on as much by ill health as his thirst for adventure, Stevenson journeyed to many exotic places throughout his lifetime but remained steadfastly enamoured of the city of his birth which he memorably summed up as ‘what Paris ought to be’. And what better place to spend a day dedicated to this remarkable writer whose words continue to captivate and inspire readers than in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature?

Take part in a series of events and activities happening across Edinburgh, including fascinating talks on his life and work, readings, walking tours around Stevenson’s former haunts and the places that fired his imagination, family-friendly craft activities, film screenings and much more.

Join in the fun on Facebook and Twitter using #RLSDay and share a snap of yourself in your Stevenson ‘tache, flying the Jolly Roger, your favourite Stevenson quote, or the unique way you’ve chosen to celebrate his enduring legacy.

Organised jointly by Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Literature and Writing (CLAW) and the City of Literature Trust, these are just a handful for the special events and activities you can look forward to. You can even pick up a free copy Strange Tales – Thrawn Janet, The Tale of Tod Lapraik and The Bottle Imp at Edinburgh City Libraries (while stocks last) so if you’ve never read Stevenson’s work before now’s your chance!

If you can’t make any of the special events held this Wednesday, don’t worry. There are plenty of other places and attractions boasting connections to Stevenson which you can visit year-round:

Colinton Parish Church – Ian Rankin recently unveiled Edinburgh’s very first statue of the famous writer as a young boy outside the church where his Grandfather was minister

Stevenson House – stay at 17 Heriot Row, the elegant Georgian townhouse which was Stevenson’s childhood home during an Edinburgh city break

Brodie’s Close – located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this is where Deacon William Brodie once lived. The true story of this respectable tradesman who led a secret double life as a burglar inspired the character of Dr Jekyll and his malevolent alter-ego Mr Hyde

Calton Hill – in the words of Stevenson, ‘Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is perhaps the best’

The Writers’ Museum – see portraits, photographs, personal possessions and books, as well as souvenirs collected by Stevenson on his travels

South Queensferry – enjoy a lunch at the Hawes Inn overlooking the Firth of Forth where he first got the idea for his gripping yarn Kidnapped

The Stevenson Way – follow in the footsteps of the hero of Kidnapped, David Balfour, and walk the route from the Isle of Erraid at the southern tip of the Isle of Mull all the way to Edinburgh

Of course Stevenson isn’t the only illustrious writer that Edinburgh can stake its claim to. Learn about the capital’s other literary connections and discover other superb events happening this winter.

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Sarah Clark

Media Editor
Sarah originally hails from West Lothian. When not extolling the virtues of Scotland, she enjoys discovering new places, watching classic movies, and getting lost in a good book.

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