R.L. Stevenson's Homes in Edinburgh

R L Stevenson Memorial in St Giles, Edinburgh

Upper text on R L  Stevenson Memorial                 Lower text on R L Stevenson Memorial
  Memorial to Robert Louis Stevenson in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh.  

It was put up in 1904. It is an enlarged copy of a medallion in Stevenson's house at Vailima, Samoa, made in New York by the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Upon arrival of the medallion at Vailima in 1894, Stevenson wrote to Saint-Gaudens: ... It is considered by everyone a first-rate but flattering portrait. We have it in a very good light which brings out the artistic merits of the god-like sculptor to great advantage. As for my opinion, I believe it to be a speaking likeness and not flattering at all, possibly a little the reverse.

"It's not like him!" commented his old nurse Cummy. But his wife Fanny claimed it was her favourite image of her husband.

In the original medallion, Stevenson is holding a cigarette, not a pen.

(Information from The Literary Traveller in Edinburgh by Allan Foster 2005)   


Click on photos to enlarge

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) is a native of Edinburgh. He came from several generations of distinguished lighthouse designers and engineers. His homes in Edinburgh were all in the New Town. 

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8 Howard Place - birth to 2 years

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1 Inverleith Terrace (now no. 9)  -  2-6 years

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17 Heriot Row  -  6-30 years

He was born at 8 Howard Place, Inverleith Row. After a couple of years, the family moved to 1 Inverleith Terrace (now no. 9), very nearby and overlooking the Royal Botanic Garden. Then in 1807 the family finally settled at 17 Heriot Row (house with the red door). This was his home in Edinburgh until he was 30. Nowadays Heriot Row is sometimes known as Millionaires' Row.

Howard Place was built in the early 19th century by James Gillespie Graham. Two-storey houses with rusticated ground floor. The front gardens may have been the first for an Edinburgh terrace.
Inverleith Terrace overlooks the Royal Botanic Garden. It was designed by John Tait and built in 1834.
Heriot Row was designed in 1802-3 by Robert Reid. The front faces south over Queen Street Gardens and the rear looks across the Firth of Forth to Fife.

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At the corner of Heriot Row, the view down Howe Street towards Fife. St Stephen church of 1827-8 by William J. Playfair.

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Stevenson attended Edinburgh University in the Old Town, studying law and science, but he was more attracted to the Bohemian life and wanted to be a writer. He spent much time across the road at the Rutherford pub in Drummond Street. A commemorative plaque has been placed at the corner with an extract from one of his letters on the subject.

Holiday home in Swanston Village just outside Edinburgh

More about Stevenson's Edinburgh at The Scotsman

Life and work of  Robert Louis Stevenson - nice summary at SLAINTE

National Library of Scotland on Stevenson

RLS Website

Wikipedia on Stevenson

Map (searchable)

More of Edinburgh at Astoft

Home Architecture Index Email:  Maps Link  (U.K.)

All photographic images on this website are Copyright the website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full size originals (3-6 megapixels)  are available for approved purposes.