Lighthouse Family’s Archive Sheds Light on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Legacy for Sale

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Celebrated as one of the most notable writers of the nineteenth century, Stevenson’s classics include ‘Treasure Island,’ ‘Kidnapped,’ and ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.’ Robert Louis Stevenson hailed from a dynasty of lighthouse engineers; the author’s grandfather, Robert Stevenson, and his descendants designed most of Scotland’s lighthouses. An archive of their family’s personal papers, spanning 200 years and four generations, will be sold by the auction house Lyon & Turnbull on February 7th. The collection includes an illustrated manuscript of designs for signals between the Bell Rock Lighthouse and the Arbroath Signal Tower, the oldest working lighthouse in the UK. It’s a stunning archive from a family who made a significant contribution to Scottish and British engineering. The collection gives insight into some of the finest engineering minds over multiple generations. Robert Stevenson also engineered infrastructure such as railways and bridges. Three of his sons followed in his footsteps and designed lighthouses at home and abroad. The auction will include papers telling the story of the family and the construction plans and negotiations of Robert and David Stevenson. Also being sold are a letter sent by Robert Louis Stevenson and a posed photograph of him in Samoa. Alan Stevenson, the last of the Stevenson lighthouse engineers, had a collection of rare stamps and atlases that will also be sold at the auction.

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