5 Jan: Meet Jekyll and Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic novella ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ was published in the USA on 5th January, 1886. It had been intended for release as a Christmas horror story the previous month – but Stevenson’s wife Fanny had been so disturbed by the initial draft that she reportedly asked him to burn it.

The book’s core themes, exploring the duality of human nature and the consequences of unchecked scientific experimentation, contributed to the story having an enduring appeal that has far outlasted its critics. It became Stevenson’s first commercial success – despite him having already written ‘Treasure Island’. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly discover how Stevenson resisted psycho-sexual interpretations of the book’s metaphors; reveal what the Scottish author did with his new-found riches; and explain how his career came to a premature end thanks to a bowl of mayonnaise… 

Further Reading:

‘Dr Jekyll and a not so wicked Mr Hyde: how a portrait of evil was toned down’ (The Guardian, 2012): https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/15/jekyll-hyde-stevenson-explicit-manuscript

‘The Real Jekyll & Hyde? The Deacon Brodie story’ (BBC News, 2015): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-31018496

‘David Hasselhoff – Confrontation’ (Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, 2000): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Pyjw_ZnD8