Robert Louis Stevenson on Samoa, 1890

Robert Louis Stevenson emigrated to the island on doctor's orders to find a better climate for his health. He purchased a four hundred acre estate on Upolu which he named Vailima (five rivers). His influence spread to the natives who consulted him for advice, and he soon became involved in local politics. He was convinced the European officials appointed to rule the natives were incompetent, and after many futile attempts to resolve the matter, he published A Footnote to History. This was such a stinging protest against existing conditions that it resulted in the recall of two officials, and Stevenson feared for a time it would result in his own deportation. Fortunately, it blew over and he settled back into his routine in writing and running his estate. However, in 1894 he was to die suddenly of what appeared to be a cerebral haemorrhage, at the age of 44.

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by Stephen Luscombe