Robert Louis Stevenson in Monaco

“I am sitting on a seat on the low terrace at Monte Carlo; the sea shining in front; on the right old Monaco; on the left Roccabruna, Cap St Martin and the Italian coast; behind me a flower border full of bees, a wall covered with green creepers and a great clump of palm and aloes”

(Letter from RLS to his mother, 18 December 1873, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 416)

On this page you will find information about RLS’s visits to Monaco: his visit with his parents in 1863, his visit in the winter of 1873-1874, and his final visit in 1884.

1863 Visit to Monaco

“Mr. and Mrs. S., Bessie and Lew drove to Monaco to-day, and saw them gambling. I was to have gone too, but could not go, being still so much colded”
(Alison Cunningham, Cummy’s Diary [London: Chatto and Windus, 1926], p. 58)

When RLS was 12, he, his mother, father, cousin Elizabeth (Bessie) Stevenson and nurse Cummy (Alison Cunningham) travelled through Europe from 2 January – 20 May 1863.

While staying in Menton (4 February to 31 March 1863) the family visited Monaco on 12 February 1863. Read more information on RLS’s travels through Europe in 1863. Read more information on RLS’s travels through Europe in 1863.

From Menton to Monaco: Winter of 1873-1874

“My dear Bob, I am at Monaco with Colvin, sitting outside in the sun on a seat behind the Casino. The band (one of the best in Europe) is just tuning up”
(Letter from RLS to Bob Stevenson, 17 December 1873, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 414)

In November 1873, RLS had been “ordered south” to Menton for his health. Although often depressed there, his spirits were lifted when Sidney Colvin arrived for a visit. The men went to Monaco on 15 December 1873 and stayed until 2 January 1874 (they did, however, return to Menton briefly on Christmas Day – James Bruyn Andrews [1842-1909], an American lawyer and his wife had invited them for dinner).

RLS and Colvin took rooms near Monte Carlo. They often visited the casino and Stevenson remarked “It is a strange place to live in some ways. Everybody gambles” (Letter from RLS to his parents, 22 December 1873, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 419). RLS reported that on one occasion a man who had lost all his money shot himself at the gambling tables while Colvin was in the room.

On 16 December RLS and Colvin went out in a boat, much to Stevenson’s delight. In the evening they had dinner with Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke (1843-1911) and his wife. Dilke was a Liberal and a reformist politician – RLS liked him, but thought very little of his wife.

The visit seemed to be a relaxing one for Stevenson, but he was also pleased to leave Monaco: “We go to Mentone on Thursday. We have had about enough of this” (Letter from RLS to his parents, 30 December 1873, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol i [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 423).

From Hyeres to Monaco: 1884

From February 1883 – early June 1884, RLS and his wife were living in Hyeres for Stevenson’s health. In early January 1884, W.E. Henley and Charles Baxter visited. Chalet la Solitude, where the Stevensons were staying, was not suitable for so many guests so on 12 January the party left for Monaco, Monte Carlo and then Menton. They returned to Hyeres on 17 February, via Nice (where Stevenson’s health deteriorated).