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PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2010
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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
By (author) Robert Louis Stevenson; Introduction by Ian Rankin
Published in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson drafted The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde over just a few days while confined to bed. It can’t be known whether this feat of writing drove him into a fever, or if his illness inspired the feverish plot. But this background helped to justify at the time the invention of Mr Hyde, the terrifying alter ego of a respectable man, whose depravity was so extreme that his worst criminal pleasures are tantalisingly omitted from a still violent story. At first shunned by booksellers, Jekyll and Hyde went on to be quoted as a moral allegory and enjoyed by an enormous public. It remains a frighteningly compelling crime thriller with an enduring vision of the dark side of the psyche with an unforgettable plot which puts it at the head of its genre.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1850. The son of an engineer, Stevenson followed in his father’s footsteps by studying engineering and law at the University of Edinburgh. However, his passion for writing soon became more than a hobby, and he decided to pursue it on a full-time basis. This career choice initially upset his father, but Stevenson made a promise to complete his studies, and was admitted to the Scottish bar in 1875. Throughout his life, Stevenson was frequently in poor health, and he often travelled abroad in search of places with mild climates. He also wrote a number of essays detailing these trips. During one such journey to France, he met an American woman named Frances Osbourne, and later married her during a visit to California. Stevenson’s most famous work is the classic pirate tale Treasure Island, which was published in 1883. A fast-paced story of adventure, with mass appeal, it soon became popular across the world. Stevenson later created an infamous, but very intriguing, character in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, published in 1886. His adventure story Kidnapped, a tale of a young boy and a stolen inheritance, was also published in the same year. In 1887, Stevenson headed for America with his wife, stepson, and mother. He had become famous in New York, and received many attractive offers from various publishers. It was soon after this move that he took up his pen for The Master of Ballantrae, a novel which is considered one of his best works. Stevenson eventually settled with his family, on the island of Samoa, where he died at the age of 44 on 3rd December 1894. While best known for writing tales of action and adventure, Robert Louis Stevenson is also remembered as an accomplished poet and essayist.