Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879) is one of Robert Louis Stevenson's earliest published works and is considered a pioneering classic of outdoor literature.
Stevenson was in his late 20s and still dependent on his parents for support. His journey was designed to provide material for publication while allowing him to distance himself from a love affair with an American woman of which his friends and families did not approve and who had returned to her husband in California.
Travels recounts Stevenson's 12-day, 200-kilometre (120 mi) solo hiking journey through the sparsely populated and impoverished areas of the Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878.The terrain, with its barren rocky heather-filled hillsides, he often compared to parts of Scotland. The other principal character is Modestine, a stubborn, manipulative donkey he could never quite master. It is one of the earliest accounts to present hiking and camping outdoors as a recreational activity. It also tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags, large and heavy enough to require a donkey to carry. Stevenson is several times mistaken for a peddler, the usual occupation of someone traveling in his fashion. Some locals are horrified that he would sleep outdoors and suggest it is dangerous to do so because of wolves or robbers. Stevenson provides the reader with the philosophy behind his undertaking:
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About the Author
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a novelist, poet, short-story writer, and essayist. In 1883, while bedridden with tuberculosis, he wrote what would become one of the best known and most beloved collections of children's poetry in the English language, A Child's Garden of Verses. Stevenson is also the author of such classics as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Date of Birth:November 13, 1850
Date of Death:December 3, 1894
Place of Birth:Edinburgh, Scotland
Place of Death:Vailima, Samoa
Education:Edinburgh University, 1875