Why did Robert Louis Stevenson move to a warmer climate?

Robert Louis Stevenson moved to a warmer climate for the good of his health. Beset by illness from an early age, Stevenson was seldom in the best of health. It was generally believed that he had tuberculosis, and as there was no cure at the time, doctors recommended that he stay in warmer climes. At various points in his life, Stevenson lived in California, the South of France, and Samoa, where he died in 1894.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It was common in Stevenson's lifetime for doctors to recommend a warm climate for patients suffering from a variety of ailments. Stevenson was wracked by illness from an early age, and so it's perhaps inevitable that at some point he would be recommended to move to warmer climes to deal with his health problems.

It was widely believed that Stevenson was consumptive—that is to say, he had tuberculosis. Unfortunately, there was no known cure for the disease in those days, so doctors could only treat the symptoms as best they could. And one factor in such treatment involved the recommendation of warmer climates, which Stevenson duly followed.

For the most part, doctors' orders seemed to provide Stevenson with some relief. After a spell in the South of France, his health notably improved. But in the long term, he remained sick, as no cure could be found for his ailments.

When Stevenson fetched up in Monterey, California, he was practically at death's door and was nursed back to health by some local ranchers. After recuperating, Stevenson made the unwise decision to relocate to San Francisco in order to make it as a writer. Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. One can imagine how cold it must've been when Stevenson spent the winter there. After getting married, Stevenson relocated for a time to the much warmer climate of Napa Valley in Northern California.

For the rest of his short life—he died at the age of forty-four—Stevenson moved around a lot with his family, his choice of residence often dictated by his acute health concerns. He spent a lot of time in the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, where he made the acquaintance of King Kalakaua. His final place of residence was the island of Samoa, where he passed away in 1894 and where his grave still stands to this day.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team