One person in five died of Tuberculosis in nineteenth century England. There was no cure; only fresh air and sunshine could ameliorate the patient's condition. Nowhere in Europe are these more plentiful than on the Riviera.
Tobias Smollet (1712-1771)
Smollet was the first novelist to come to the Riviera for health reasons. He was also a doctor of medicine. His first novel "The Adventures of Roderick Random" (1748) made him many new enemies since most of the unpleasant characters (with names such as Crab, Potion, and Gawkey) were recognised as fellow writers. For another libel on a British admiral - "an engineer without knowledge, an officer without resolution, and a man without veracity" - Smollet served three months in prison. He wrote "The Life and Adventures of Sir Launcelet Greaves" (1762). His experiences here were published as "Travels through France and Italy" (1766) upon which Lawrence Sterne (of "Thristram Shandy " fame) based his satire "A Sentimental Journey" (1768) wherein Smollet appears as the learned Smelfungus. Smollet recommended the healthy Riviera climate, and the City of Nice responded by naming a street after him, unfortunately, spelling his name wrongly, Rue Smolet.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Like Smollet, a Scot and former student in Edinburgh, Stevenson won notoriety for an attack on John Knox and marriage to a divorced American, tuberculosis brought him south. When he had finished "Treasure Island" (1883) in Hyeres where he was very happy, he travelled to the South Pacific where he wrote documents and novels attacking Colonialism. Stevenson died at 44 years old. The epitaph on his grave in Samoa Edinburgh University:
"Home is sailor, home from the sea
And the Hunter home from the hill"
is from a poem written in Hyeres.
Stevenson came to Hyeres for health reasons. Even as a child his health had been poor but, nevertheless, he traveled widely and published "An Inland Voyage" (1878) about a canoe trip through Belgium and France, and "Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes" (1879).
Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
A New Zealand born short story writer many of whose works were first published by avant garde magazines in England. Collections of her stories (eg "In a German Pension" 1911) brought her intelligence and delicacy to a wide public. She came to Hyeres with John Middleton Murry because she had tuberculosis.
Her health did not recover and she died, in Fontainebleau, aged 32.
David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
D. H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, where his father was a coal miner. After his first two novels were published ("The White Peacock" (1911) and "The Trespasser" in 1912), he met Frieda, his future wife. Frieda (Nee von Richthofen), whose father was The Red Baron, was already married so they left England together. "Sons and Lovers" (1913) was published but "The Rainbow" (1915) was banned as obscene. Suffering from Tuberculosis, Lawrence came from New Mexico to the Riviera with his wife Freida because the climate was healthier. "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (1928) was completed in Vence and published in Florence. Death came in Vence when he was forty-five. Four people attended his funeral. Later his bones were dug up, burned and the ashes re-buried in Taos, New Mexico.
Created, composed, and constructed by Virtual Riviera 1995