Robert Michael Ballantyne
Lifetime: 1825 - 1894 Passed: ≈ 129 years ago
Robert Michael Ballantyne was a Scottish author of juvenile fiction who wrote more than 100 books. He was also an accomplished artist, and exhibited some of his water-colours at the Royal Scottish Academy.
Ballantyne was born in Edinburgh on 24 April 1825, the ninth of ten children and the youngest son, to Alexander Thomson Ballantyne (1776–1847) and his wife Anne (1786–1855).
Ballantyne went to Canada aged 16, and spent five years working for the Hudson's Bay Company. He traded with the local Native Americans for furs, which required him to travel by canoe and sleigh to the areas occupied by the modern-day provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, experiences that formed the basis of his novel Snowflakes and Sunbeams (1856). His longing for family and home during that period impressed him to start writing letters to his mother. Ballantyne recalled in his autobiographical Personal Reminiscences in Book Making (1893) that "To this long-letter writing I attribute whatever small amount of facility in composition I may have acquired."
In 1847 Ballantyne returned to Scotland to discover that his father had died. He published his first book the following year, Hudson's Bay: or, Life in the Wilds of North America, and for some time was employed by the publishers Messrs Constable. In 1856 he gave up business to focus on his literary career, and began the series of adventure stories for the young with which his name is popularly associated.
In 1866 Ballantyne married Jane Grant (c. 1845 – c. 1924), with whom he had three sons and three daughters.
Ballantyne spent his later years in Harrow, London, before moving to Italy for the sake of his health, possibly suffering from undiagnosed Ménière's disease. He died in Rome on 8 February 1894, and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery there.
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