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DAVOS, in eastern Switzerland, in the heart of Graubünden and the Alps, is a small town of 13,000 inhabitants, famous for having been one of the first villages in Switzerland to develop, from 1860 onwards, reception and care facilities for people suffering from lung disorders and above all tuberculosis.
A famous winter sports resort, Davos is also renowned for hosting the World Economic Forum.
In January 2023, the town of Davos (CH) joined the Stevenson network, becoming the first Swiss member of the Itinerary “in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson”. In May 2023, a first delegation from the European network, warmly welcomed by representatives of the town of Davos, laid the foundations for cultural, literary and active cooperation, while following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Robert Louis Stevenson à Davos
Robert Louis Stevenson came to Davos for the first time at the beginning of November 1880. Suffering from lung trouble since childhood, his visit to Davos had been recommended to him by a renowned Edinburgh doctor, his uncle Dr George Balfour.
He was accompanied by Fanny Osbourne, whom he had married in the United States in May 1880. Samuel Lloyd Osbourne, Fanny’s son, was with them, and the dog Woggs completed the little family. The Stevensons returned to Davos again between September 1881 and May 1882, and in all the Stevenson family spent almost a year and a half in Davos. The first stay was at the Hotel Belvedere and the second at the Chalet Am Stein. Their life consisted of rest, walks and friendly encounters, particularly with John Addington Symonds and the MacMorlands family.
Known for his articles and travel writings, Robert Louis Stevenson was not yet the famous author of “The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll“. He was, however, well enough known to be called “the writer” by his neighbours. In Davos, Stevenson finished Treasure Island, wrote almost all of Silverado Squatters, began Prince Otto and collected his essays on Victor Hugo, François Villon and Charles of Orleans. He also wrote articles and numerous poems accompanied by woodcuts, printed by Lloyd on a hand press.
After 1882, Stevenson did not return to Davos, but other writers such as Thomas Mann and Conan Doyle continued the literary saga of this village in Graubünden.