Robert Louis Stevenson as a Child

Robert Louis Stevenson as a Child Biographies Nineteenth Century Life Victorian Age Famous People

Robert Louis Stevenson's Mother—Margaret Isabella Balfour Stevenson—kept a "baby book" for her only child. It is filled with interesting tidbits about RLS' early life. 

The baby book was published in 1922 and includes both a facsimile of Mrs. Stevenson's handwritten entries and a transcription of her words. The image, depicted here, is the frontispiece of that book which was printed, in San Francisco, by John Henry Nash for John Howell.

Stevenson's Mother called him "Lou," but that was not his only nickname. Throughout the baby book, she variously refers to her son as:

  • Boulihasker
  • Smout (Scots for "young fish")
  • Baron Broadnose
  • Signor Sprucki
  • Maister Sprook

What was Stevenson, the future writer, like as a youngster? Here are a few samples of his Mother's descriptions:

At the age of one:

Jan 13th:  Smout gives up his forenoon sleep and calls books “oufs” because he expects to find pictures of dogs in them.

At the age of three:

April 17th:  When Smout was drawing pictures he said “I have drawed a man’s body, shall I do his soul now?”

At the age of four:

January 10th:  When Lou saw the sun looking red he said “It’s just like a great big orange thrown up into the sky.”

Later, as a famous writer, R.L.S. was often inspired by his dreams. Apparently, the influence of dreams started early in his life. When “Lou” was four, his Mother also notes the following:

February 6th:  Lou dreamt that “he heard the noise of pens writing.”

March 17th:  Smout’s dream “I dreamt that I was going downstairs and I saw a Russian bear looking out at the pantry door, and it came up and took hold of my foot and I awoke and it was just a dream.”

March 27th:  Another dream. “I dreamt that I was at a marriage and a boy asked me to go to his room and when I looked out at the window I saw a basket hanging down from the sky and it was full of doors all around and somebody gave me something that wasn’t good for me and I would not take it.” The something appeared to be a cookie of some kind and he said the basket “was hung on a nail driven into a cloud.”

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image depicting Robert Louis Stevenson, as a young toddler, included in "Stevenson's Baby Book," published in San Francisco, during 1922, by John Henry Nash for John Howell.


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"Robert Louis Stevenson as a Child" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 18, 2015. May 30, 2020.
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