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Stevenson's life was almost as adventurous as the stories he created. He spent much of it as a traveler, writing about his exploits in such exemplary travel books as TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY IN THE CEVENNES. He studied law but never practiced; he always wanted to write, and gave himself what amounted to a writing course, studying and copying the style and techniques of his favorite writers. His attempts paid off: his first published novel, TREASURE ISLAND, brought him money and fame. At 29 he fell in love with a married woman--alienating his family--and pursued her to California, where she divorced her husband, after which the couple married and traveled extensively in the U.S., visiting various spas and health resorts in search of a cure for the tuberculosis from which Stevenson suffered all his life. After extensive travel in the South Seas, he finally settled in Samoa, where he became involved in the lives and politics of the islanders. During all his wanderings, he continued to write, producing a total of 12 novels, many short tales, three plays, poetry (including the classic A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES), and dozens of books of essays and travel pieces. He died in Samoa at 44--suddenly, of apoplexy, as he was making a salad for dinner--leaving his last book, THE WEIR OF HERMISTON, unfinished.