In a characteristic act of kindness he legally renounced all rights to the 13th of November as his birthday.
While he was living in the South Seas – where he would die in 1894 – Stevenson discovered that the 12-year-old daughter of Henry Clay Ide, the US Commissioner to Samoa, had her birthday on Christmas Day and disliked this.
All her friends had a birthday and Christmas Day (and so too lots of presents!), whereas she had to make do with one special day each year. Stevenson nobly signed away all ‘rights’ to his birthday to the girl, as a letter of 1891 makes clear: ‘I … Have transferred, and do hereby transfer to the said A. H. Ide, All and Whole of my rights and privileges in the 13th day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said A. H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats and receipt of gifts, compliments and copies of verse, per the manner of our ancestors.’ What a nice man!
A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world.
Stevenson is probably best known for the Gothic horror classic Jekyll and Hyde and the adventure story Treasure Island, though he also wrote verse for children (A Child’s Garden of Verses), ghost stories (‘Markheim’, ‘The Body Snatcher’), and travel writing (Travels with a Donkey). DAILY LITERARY OBSERVANCES FROM BLIND HORSE BOOKS: Like and Follow
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