First published in France where it caused a literary sensation and became an instant bestseller, this is Alexandra Lapierre's celebrated, award-winning biography of Robert Louis Stevenson's wife. One hundred years after his death, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of such classic novels as Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, remains an ever fascinating figure. This is the remarkable story of his wife Fanny, the American woman eleven years his senior who influenced every facet of his life and work, and who remains in her own right one of the most truly independent and free-spirited women of her generation. Stevenson was to devote his life to this woman: he crossed continents in search of her; scandalized his family to marry her; built a life in the Pacific with her; survived tuberculosis because of her; and was encouraged and inspired in his writing by her. He was an unknown twenty-five year old Scotsman when he came across Fanny for the first time in the artists' colony of Barbizon near Paris. A mother of three, Fanny had left her unfaithful husband to come to Europe with her three children to learn how to paint. No greater abyss could have separated the young Stevenson from this eccentric American; and yet, it was love at first sight. Fanny's influence on the novelist has long been recognized but is often reduced to stereotype: either she is written off as an overpowering woman who controlled Stevenson or caricatured as a kind of angel who saved him. For the first time, in this acclaimed biography readers are given a clear, accurate portrait of the woman behind the genius who led a fascinating existence both before and after her marriage to Stevenson. ("She was the only woman worth dying for" is how Fanny's last lover described her in 1914; she was seventy-four at the time, he was twenty-eight.) Alexandra Lapierre spent five years tracing Fanny's life, from her early tumultuous years in America to her days after Stevenson's death. The author's relentless and thorough research drove her to discover Fanny's wardrobe and jewels, to climb the mount where she is buried alongside Stevenson, to study her paintings in Scotland, and to unearth her love letters. This captivating story illuminates the life of a woman whose headstrong ambition and boundless courage set her apart from her generation. She was, as Stevenson wrote of her, "heart whole, soul free," and as this extraordinary biography reveals, the essence of a modern woman ahead of her time.