I’ve written previously about kind folks donating as part of their birthday. If I find a current example I post it on twitter under #generousbday. Today, though, I want to share a past occurrence of birthday generosity. Author Robert Louis Stevenson, who you likely know best for Treasure Island, gave up his birthday to a 12-year-old girl.
Annie Ide, daughter to the U.S. Commissioner to Samoa where Stevenson was at the time living, was churlish about having been born on Christmas Day. So, Stevenson, wrote up a contract granting her rights to his November 13 birthday.
“…considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained an age when O, we never mention it, and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description…” he transferred “All and Whole of my rights and privileges in the 13th day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said A. H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats and receipt of gifts, compliments and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors.”
He did ask that she add the name Louisa to hers “at least in private” and charged her to use the “birthday with moderation and humanity.”
The document was even witnessed and sealed before being sent on to the lucky girl. He was only 41 when he made the donation, but regrettably died three years later succumbing to the ill health that had brought him to Samoa in the first place.
Perhaps it’s karma that the world-renowned author of Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is now consistently feted on his “unbirthday” in his native Scotland on RLS Day.