Right Down To The Wire, Even Through The Fire (Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny)

…By the time she returned to America in 1878, Stevenson had fallen deeply in love with Fanny Osbourne; he undertook his walking tour through the mountains in France in part as a restorative to his emotional life. In August 1879 Stevenson received a cable-gram from Fanny, who by that time had rejoined her husband in California. Details are vague, but there seems to have been some last attempt by Osbourne to break with Stevenson; the contents of the cable were never revealed by either to family or friends. With the impetuosity of one of his own fictional characters, Stevenson set off from Greenock, Scotland, on 7 August 1879 for America. On 18 August Stevenson landed, sick, nearly penniless, in New York. From there he took an overland train journey in miserable conditions to California, where he nearly died. After meeting with Fanny Osbourne in Monterey, and no doubt depressed at the uncertainty of her divorce, he went camping in the Santa Lucia mountains, where he lay sick for two nights until two frontiersmen found him and nursed him back to health. Still unwell, Stevenson moved to Monterey in December 1879 and thence to San Francisco, where he fluctuated between life and death, continually fighting off illness…

Robert Louis Stevenson Biography
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