Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, poet, and essayist, was born in Edinburgh on November 13, 1850. Ill health interrupted his formal education at Edinburgh University and plagued him throughout his life. Leading a bohemian existence during his twenties and thirties, his travels throughout Europe formed the basis of his first two books, An Inland Voyage (1878) and Travels With a Donkey (1879). In 1875 he settled into the artists colony at Barbizon and began writing for English magazines. There he met Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a married woman ten years his senior, with whom he fell in love. In 1879 he followed her to San Francisco (which gave rise to An Amateur Emigrant). After she obtained a divorce, they married and for the next eight years traveled a great deal in Europe and America in search of good health. Stevenson remained industrious and during this period wrote Treasure Island (1883), his first popular success. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped appeared in 1886, followed by The Black Arrow in 1888. The Stevensons finally settled in Samoa, where he became involved in politics and was known as Tusitala, the Teller of Tales. He was dictating Weir of Hermiston on December 3, 1894, the day he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Vladimir Nabokov
was born in 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia to a trilingual household; he could read and write in English before Russian or French. The family went into exile after the Bolshevik revolution, living in various European cities, including Berlin and Prague. In 1940 Nabokov and his wife and son fled the Nazis for America, where he taught college and wrote Lolita
, published in 1955. After that book’s tremendous success, he was able to write full-time and moved back to Europe, eventually settling in Montreaux, Switzerland. Among his other notable books are Pale Fire
(1962) and Ada
(1969). In addition to his writing, he was a noted entomologist specializing in butterflies. He died in 1977.
Dan Chaon is the author of the novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, and two short story collections, Fitting Ends and the 2001 National Book Award Finalist Among the Missing. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Story, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly, as well as Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize 2000. The recipient of numerous prizes and honors, he is the Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Oberlin College. Kelly Hurley
is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she teaches Victorian studies, literary theory, and popular culture. She is the author of The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism, and Degeneration at the Fin de Siècle
, as well as various articles on Victorian and contemporary Gothic. Her next book is on horror film spectatorship.