“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
What makes a literary character immortal? There are only a handful: instantly recognizable, immeasurably plastic, timeless beings that have grown larger than life—they have captured our imaginations in ways that only a few flesh and blood beings may have. Often, their creators were envious or oblivious of their creation’s merit. For example, Mary Shelley regarded Frankenstein as her “hideous progeny,” Arthur Conan Doyle despised his tales of Sherlock Holmes as distractions from his worthier pursuit of writing historical fiction, and Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in no small part as a tribute to his idol Sir Henry Irving. Certainly none of these creators imagined that their creations would live for centuries, firing the imaginations of millions of readers, stage-goers, and movie fans.
In 1886, Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde joined this elite company. (1) Unlike the other authors, Robert Louis Stevenson was hardly a “one-hit wonder”: His adventure novels Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Master of Ballantrae are highly regarded and treasured by generations of readers, as is his poetry (A Child’s Garden of Verses). Though he died at age forty-four, his fame was already established, and he was lionized by many other popular writers of the day, including Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton. While his literary reputation ebbed and flowed in academic and critical circles over the succeeding century, Stevenson is viewed today as a writer of “originality and power.” (2) Yet Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is unlike anything else Stevenson wrote, weaving a compelling condemnation of Victorian ideals into a shocking story of crime detection. (3) Hailed today as a potent blend of mystery, science fiction, and horror, the novella, like Frankenstein before it, has been too often simplified, distorted, and refashioned into a warning about good defeated by evil. The true nature of Stevenson’s tale is far more complex.
The Golden Age of Story Telling
The reign of Queen Victoria saw remarkable changes in the daily lives of the English population. As the railroads spread and industry grew, more and more people worked in places remote from their homes. Books were no longer the exclusive province of the rich and respectable. Broadsheets—one-penny scandal sheets sold at public executions—and the widespread sales of the Newgate Calendar, telling the stories of celebrated and familiar criminals, captured the imagination of the public with lurid tales of true (or mostly true) crimes. As the reading populace expanded, the demand for reading material grew apace, and “shilling shockers” (“dime novels” in America), “yellowback” novels, and magazines including fiction were produced in copious quantities.
By the 1880s, more than forty years into the sixty-three-year reign of Victoria, London was the largest city in the world, with a population of over four million. It was the center of the British empire, the hub of shipping, communications, finance, entertainment, and commerce. Yet at the same time, London also evidenced the decay setting in: The Great Depression of 1873–1896 had left the middle classes impoverished, and England was embattled in a long war with Germany and the United States for control of the world’s industry and military might. London was a city divided, with no central government until 1888, no police force of its own, and no unified water, sanitation, or public-health system. International terrorism thrived in London, and just as East and West strove for the empire, the East End and the West End of London became their symbolic equivalents—the East End a melting pot of immigrants and poverty, the West End the seat of government, wealth, and power. George R. Sims introduced the shocking How the Poor Live (1883) as a “book of travel,” a journey through “a dark continent that is within easy walking distance of the General Post Office.”
Yet the Victorians were proud of their optimism, their dogmatism, the use of force to suppress the “heathens,” and their straitlaced morality. It was an age of belief in the power of reason, an age in which a Sherlock Holmes could epitomize all that was right and good about England—a man committed to the pursuit of truth and justice, regardless of the social class of the guilty. Yet it was also an age of hypocrisy. As historian Walter Houghton explains, firstly, the Victorians:
concealed or suppressed their true convictions and their natural tastes. They said the “right” thing or did the “right” thing: they sacrificed sincerity to propriety. Second, and worse, they pretended to be better than they were. They passed themselves off as being incredibly pious and moral; they talked noble sentiments and lived—quite otherwise. Finally, they refused to look at life candidly. They shut their eyes to whatever was ugly or unpleasant and pretended it didn’t exist. Conformity, moral pretension, and evasion—those are the hallmarks of Victorian hypocrisy. (4)
This was the world in which RLS was nurtured.
Life of Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson (5) was born on November 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the only son of Thomas Stevenson, a successful civil engineer, and Margaret Isabella Balfour. An avid teller of tales, he began to write as a teenager and modeled his early efforts after those whom he admired, including Walter Scott and Robert Burns. His first published work (though published at his father’s expense in 1866) was The Pentland Rising, an account of the Covenanters’ Rebellion, a seventeenth-century Scottish religious upheaval. At age seventeen, RLS entered Edinburgh University, initially studying lighthouse engineering, the family business. At the university, however, he styled himself a bohemian, railing against bourgeois hypocrisies, joined the Speculative Society (a literary group), and took to wearing his hair long and visiting cheap brothels and pubs. In 1871, he announced to his father that he intended to pursue a life of letters, but he was persuaded to study law instead.
In 1873, RLS visited England and soon fell in with the literary circles of London, including Andrew Lang, Sidney Colvin, Edmund Gosse, and Leslie Stephen, the latter the editor of the influential The Cornhill Magazine. Stephen took a special interest in the young man and introduced him to the poet and literary figure William Ernest Henley. (6) Henley became a close friend and frequent collaborator, including cowriting the play Deacon Brodie with RLS. The play, first produced in Edinburgh in 1882, echoes some of the themes of Jekyll & Hyde and is discussed further below. (7)
Although in poor health—RLS suffered throughout his life from severe bronchial problems—he nonetheless traveled in 1876 to France and Belgium, undertaking a canoe voyage. (8) In northern France, he met the thirty-six-year-old Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne (1840–1914). Fanny, who was born in Indianapolis, met her husband Samuel in Indiana and married him when she was seventeen. After the Civil War, she and their five-year-old daughter Isobel (“Belle”) had traveled west to meet him, settling in Nevada. Samuel was soon off again, and Fanny and Belle moved to San Francisco. A second and a third child were born, but Samuel began a pattern of infidelities. Striking out on her own to study art, Fanny took their three children with her to Europe, where the youngest child died. After that loss, she moved to Grez-sur-Loing. By this point, according to her sister’s biographical account, Fanny “was already a magazine writer of recognized ability, and . . . at the moment when Stevenson first came into her life she was making a living for herself and her two children with her pen.” (9)
Fanny and RLS became deeply attached to one another. RLS returned to England but apparently was smitten. In February 1877, he penned an essay, “On Falling in Love” (without mentioning Fanny), and the following year he returned to Europe to travel with her and the children. Fanny left abruptly for California, however. She cabled him in August 1878 that she was leaving her husband but remained indecisive. RLS wanted to go to her but didn’t have the funds. Instead, he undertook an arduous walking trip that was the basis for his Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). By 1879, however, he had saved up enough to sail second-class to New York and from there traveled by train to Monterey, California, where Fanny was apparently suffering a breakdown over her indecision. RLS himself was in terrible health when he arrived, but by December he was sufficiently recovered to travel to San Francisco. Without his family’s support, he struggled along in near poverty, and his health again deteriorated badly. Fanny, now divorced from Osbourne and recovered from her own breakdown, came to his bedside and nursed him back to health. They married in May 1880 and in August returned to England.
The Stevensons traveled frequently to the Continent but, in 1884, they settled in the seaside town of Bournemouth, in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England, in a home that RLS named “Skerryvore,” after a family-designed lighthouse. RLS’s health remained poor—he said that he lived “like a weevil in a biscuit” (10)—but his writing output increased. His novels Kidnapped (1886), Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (1888); the short-story collections More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885), cowritten with Fanny, and The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables (1887); and the poetry collections A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) and Underwoods (1887) were all products of this period. RLS also began an enduring friendship with Henry James during this time, who often visited the Stevensons.
When RLS’s father died in 1887, however, the family again traveled to America. They spent most of a year in the Adirondacks, but in June 1888 they set sail from San Francisco for an extended Pacific trip, visiting Hawaii, the Gilbert Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa, where they decided to settle. They purchased property in Vailima, Samoa, in January 1890 and constructed the island’s first two-story home. RLS’s mother joined them there in May 1891.
RLS began to devote his energies to local politics and the cultural heritage of Samoa, writing numerous letters to newspapers and magazines deploring what he foresaw: the eventual takeover of the country by the rival “Great Powers” and the eradication of the local culture. (11) Some of his fiction of this period also reflected these issues. He penned a short story “The Beach of Falesá” (1892), the first of his “realistic” South Seas fiction, followed by a novel, The Ebb-Tide (1894), written in collaboration with his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne. The first sentence of the latter clearly illustrates his political sea change: “Throughout the island world of the Pacific, scattered men of many European races and from almost every grade of society carry activity and disseminate disease.”
In 1893, he published Catriona, a sequel to Kidnapped—perhaps to help lift the burden of the expense of Vailima—but he also set to work on Weir of Hermiston, which he expected to be among the best work of his career. This was a novel set in eighteenth-century Scotland that was intended to explore how the erosion of traditional structures and customs led to the destruction of morals—much the same fate that he foresaw for Samoa. Unfortunately, in December 1894, RLS suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died with the work uncompleted. Robert Louis Stevenson was buried in his beloved Samoa, on the side of Mount Vaea, where his gravesite bears the requiem he had written for himself fourteen years earlier, when he feared he would die in Monterey:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
While RLS’s fiction never flagged in popularity, he was shunned by the critics for a long period. His work was excluded from major anthologies for much of the twentieth century. Today, however, he is highly regarded by academia as an original voice, an artist with a wide range of interests and insights, no longer to be relegated to the shelves of children’s literature or horror fiction. In 2004, the Journal of Stevenson Studies began publication, with an impressive editorial board and a mission: “The Journal of Stevenson Studies (JSS) is committed to the study and wider consideration of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson as a popular writer with an original and unique insight into the moral, psychological and cultural ambiguities of the modern world. This is the Stevenson admired by authors like Henry James, Graham Greene and Jorge Luis Borges.” (12)
The Genesis of Jekyll & Hyde
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was not RLS’s first foray into the undergrowth of the psyche. Some time before 1867, (13) he essayed his first attempt at a play about William Brodie, known as Deacon Brodie. Brodie (1741–1788) was a Scottish cabinetmaker, and reportedly a piece of his craftwork was in the Stevenson family home. An outwardly upstanding deacon of his guild and Edinburgh city councillor, Brodie was hanged for theft when it was revealed that he secretly led a gang of housebreakers. Many have suggested that this “split personality” of Brodie’s inspired J&H. (14) RLS would complete the play in 1880, with the collaboration of W. E. Henley, and it was performed in Bradford in late 1882. Though never a commercial success, (15) it was published three times, once privately in 1880, in a revised form in 1888, and finally in Three Plays in 1892. (16)
In autumn 1884, RLS wrote a story titled “Markheim,” to fulfill a commission for the Pall Mall Gazette for a Christmas ghost story. It was rejected by the editor for its brevity and was not published until a year later in Unwin’s Annual, 1886: The Broken Shaft. (17) A horror story—with elements, like J&H, that may be supernatural or may be psychological—it is an account of the commission of a murder told by the cultured murderer himself. With great intensity, it explores the conflict between good and evil in the mind of the criminal. It bears some resemblance to Dostoevsky’s monumental Crime and Punishment (1866), which RLS read around the time he was writing “Markheim.” (18) The publication of the story may have been much on his mind when he was composing J&H. “‘Markheim’ came out just before Jekyll and Hyde,” notes critic Jenni Calder; (19) “the dreaming of the latter clearly reflected current preoccupations. Louis’s own uneasiness as resident of Skerryvore (20) may have drawn to the surface again his preoccupation with the double life. . . . It is the acknowledgment that evil has won, and that giving oneself up to it is comforting. The theme is enlarged in Jekyll and Hyde, the theme that Louis spoke of, in a subsequent letter to J. A. Symonds, as ‘that damned old business of the war in the members.’” (21)
In his essay “A Chapter on Dreams,” written in 1888, RLS expostulated on the origins of J&H:
I had long been trying to write a story on this subject, to find a body, a vehicle, for that strong sense of man’s double being which must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature. I had even written one, “The Travelling Companion,” which was returned by an editor on the plea that it was a work of genius and indecent, and which I burned the other day on the ground that it was not a work of genius, and that “Jekyll” had supplanted it. Then came one of those financial fluctuations to which (with an elegant modesty) I have hitherto referred in the third person. For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterward split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers. All the rest was made awake, and consciously, although I think I can trace in much of it the manner of my Brownies. (22) The meaning of the tale is therefore mine, and had long pre-existed in my garden of Adonis, and tried one body after another in vain; indeed, I do most of the morality, worse luck! and my Brownies have not a rudiment of what we call a conscience. Mine, too, is the setting, mine the characters. All that was given me was the matter of three scenes, and the central idea of a voluntary change becoming involuntary. Will it be thought ungenerous, after I have been so liberally ladling out praise to my unseen collaborators, if I here toss them over, bound hand and foot, into the arena of the critics? For the business of the powders, which so many have censured, is, I am relieved to say, not mine at all, but the Brownies’. (23)
The story of the actual composition of Jekyll and Hyde has been told by several different witnesses. Fanny Stevenson recounted,
In the small hours of one morning, . . . I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily: “Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.” I had awakened him at the first transformation scene.
Lloyd Osbourne, RLS’s stepson, recollects the story’s birth:
I don’t believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr. Jekyll. I remember the first reading as though it were yesterday. Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days. . . . The mere physical feat was tremendous and, instead of harming him, it roused and cheered him inexpressibly. (24)
Fanny often read RLS’s work in manuscript and offered her comments, usually in handwritten notes in the margin. According to Balfour, in the case of J&H, she complained that Stevenson was telling a story rather than using the idea as an allegory. Jekyll’s nature was bad all through, she asserted, and Hyde was only a convenient disguise. After digesting this comment, Fanny said, her husband called her back into the bedroom and pointed to a pile of ashes: He had burnt the manuscript in fear that he would try to salvage it, and thus forced himself to start again from nothing, writing an allegorical story as she had suggested. Three days later, he again had a first draft.
Fanny’s supposed literary criticism may not have been the real reason for her insistence on a rewrite. Malcom Elwin and William Veeder argue separately (25) that Fanny’s objections were a response to what she considered the inappropriate sexual content of the tale. Even Fanny’s account of the burning has been disputed by scholars, who note that there is no evidence of the burning. (26) In any case, the manuscript was sent off to Longmans on October 31, 1885, and page proofs were sent to RLS mid-November—a very brisk timetable, from composition to typesetting to proofreading to first-run printing in under ten weeks. (27) Rather than publish the story in monthly segments, Longmans issued it as a shilling book in paper covers, hoping for volume sales. (28) But the Christmas market was glutted, and the publishers decided to hold it until January. Though sales of the book started slowly, a review in The Times (on January 25, 1886) boosted sales, and a pleasing 40,000 copies were quickly sold. Balfour estimates that by 1901, probably 250,000 copies had been sold in the United States alone.
RLS had a high opinion of J&H from the beginning: “I confess I was pretty fond of Jekyll from the first, and the good opinions of many—and now yours—have increased the fondness,” he wrote to a correspondent in February 1886. (29) Fortunately, the critics agreed. The first review appeared in The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (30) for January 9, 1886, written (though unsigned) by Andrew Lang, who—a friend of RLS—had read the tale in manuscript.
Stevenson’s Prince Otto was, no doubt, somewhat disappointing to many of his readers. They will be hard to please if they are disappointed in his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. To adopt a recent definition of some of Mr. Stevenson’s tales, this little shilling work is like “Poe with the addition of a moral sense.” . . .
Mr. Stevenson’s idea, his secret (but a very open secret) is that of the double personality in every man. The mere conception is familiar enough. Poe used it in William Wilson, and Gautier in Le Chevalier Double. Yet Mr. Stevenson’s originality of treatment remains none the less striking, and astonishing. The double personality does not in his romance take the form of a personified conscience, the doppel ganger of the sinner, a “double” like his own double which Goethe is fabled to have seen. No; the “separable self” in this “strange case” is all unlike that in William Wilson, and, with its unlikeness to its master, with its hideous caprices, and appalling vitality, and terrible power of growth and increase, is, to our thinking, a notion as novel as it is terrific. We would welcome a spectre, a ghoul, or even a vampire gladly, rather than meet Mr. Edward Hyde. Without telling the whole story, and to some extent spoiling the effect, we cannot explain the exact nature of the relations between Jekyll and Hyde, nor reveal the mode (itself, we think, original, though it depends on resources of pseudo-science) in which they were developed. Let it suffice to say that Jeykll’s emotions when, as he sits wearily in the park, he finds that his hand is not his own hand, but another’s; and that other moment when Utterson, the lawyer, is brought to Jekyll’s door, and learns that his locked room is haunted by somewhat which moans and weeps: and, again, the process beheld by Dr. Lanyon, are all of them as terrible as anything ever dreamed of by Poe. They lack, too, that quality of merely earthly horror or of physical corruption and decay which Poe was apt to introduce so frequently and with such unpleasant and unholy enjoyment.
It is a proof of Mr. Stevenson’s skill that he has chosen the scene for his wild “Tragedy of a Body and a Soul,” as it might have been called, in the most ordinary and respectable quarters of London. His heroes (surely this is original) are all successful middle-aged professional men. No woman appears in the tale (as in Treasure Island), and we incline to think that Mr. Stevenson always does himself most justice in novels without a heroine. It may be regarded by some critics as a drawback to the tale that it inevitably disengages a powerful lesson in conduct. It is not a moral allegory, of course; but you cannot help reading the moral into it, and recognizing that, just as every one of us, according to Mr. Stevenson, travels through life with a donkey (as he himself did in the Cevennes), so every Jekyll among us is haunted by his own Hyde. But it would be most unfair to insist on this, as there is nothing a novel-reader hates more than to be done good to unawares. Nor has Mr. Stevenson, obviously, any didactic purpose. The moral of the tale is its natural soul, and no more separable from it than, in ordinary life, Hyde is separable from Jekyll.
While one is thrilled and possessed by the horror of the central fancy, one may fail, at first reading, to recognize the delicate and restrained skill of the treatment of accessories, details, and character. Mr. Utterson, for example, Jekyll’s friend, is an admirable portrait, and might occupy a place unchallenged among pictures by the best masters of sober fiction.
Perhaps even more satisfying would have been the unbiased review that appeared in The Times of January 25, 1886, a review that RLS’s publisher Charles Longman said gave the book its real “start”:
Nothing Mr. Stevenson has written as yet has so strongly impressed us with the versatility of his very original genius as this sparsely-printed, little shilling volume. From the business points of view we can only marvel in these practical days at the lavish waste of admirable material, and what strikes us as a disproportionate expenditure of brain-power, in relation to the tangible results. Of two things, one. Either the story was a flash of intuitive psychological research, dashed off in a burst of inspiration; or else it is the product of the most elaborate forethought, fitting together all of the parts of an intricate and inscrutable puzzle. The proof is, that every connoisseur who reads the story once must certainly read it twice. He will read it the first time, passing from surprise to surprise, in a curiosity that keeps growing, because it is never satisfied. For the life of us, we cannot make out how such and such an incident can possibly be explained on grounds that are intelligible or in any way plausible. Yet all the time the seriousness of the tone assures us that explanations are forthcoming. In our impatience we are hurried towards the denouement, which accounts for everything upon strictly scientific grounds, though the science be the science of problematical futurity. Then, having drawn a sigh of relief at having found even a fantastically speculative issue from our embarrassments, we begin reflectively to call to mind how systematically the writer has been working towards it. Never for a moment, in the most startling situations, has he lost his grasp of the grand ground-facts of a wonderful and supernatural problem. Each apparently incredible or insignificant detail has been thoughtfully subordinated to his purpose. And if we say, after all, on a calm retrospect, that the strange case is absurdly and insanely improbable, Mr. Stevenson might answer in the words of Hamlet, that there are more things in heaven and in earth than are dreamed of in our [sic] philosophy. For we are still groping by doubtful lights on the dim limits of boundless investigation; and it is always possible that we may be on the brink of a new revelation as to the unforeseen resources of the medical art. And, at all events, the answer should suffice for the purposes of Mr. Stevenson’s sensational tour d’esprit.
The “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll” . . . appeals irresistibly to the most cultivated minds, and must be appreciated by the most competent critics. Naturally, we compare it with the sombre masterpieces of Poe, and we may say at once that Mr. Stevenson has gone far deeper. Poe embroidered richly in the gloomy grandeur of his imagination upon themes that were but too material, and not very novel—on the sinister destiny overshadowing a doomed family, on a living and breathing man kept prisoner in a coffin or vault, on the wild whirling of a human waif in the boiling eddies of the Maelstrom—while Mr. Stevenson evolves the ideas of his story from the world that is unseen, enveloping everything in weird mystery, till at last it pleases him to give us the password. We are not going to tell his strange story, though we might well do so, and only excite the curiosity of our readers. We shall only say that we are shown the shrewdest of lawyers hopelessly puzzled by the inexplicable conduct of a familiar friend. All the antecedents of a life of virtue and honour seem to be belied by the discreditable intimacy that has been formed with one of the most callous and atrocious of criminals. A crime committed under the eyes of a witness goes unavenged, though the notorious criminal has been identified, for he disappears as absolutely as if the earth had swallowed him. He reappears in due time where we should least expect to see him, and for some miserable days he leads a charmed life, while he excites the superstitious terrors of all about him. Indeed, the strongest nerves are shaken by stress of sinister circumstances, as well they may be, for the worthy Dr. Jekyll—the benevolent physician—has likewise vanished amid events that are enveloped in impalpable mysteries; nor can any one surmise what has become of him. So with overwrought feelings and conflicting anticipations we are brought to the end, where all is accounted for, more or less credibly.
Nor is it the mere charm of the story, strange as it is, which fascinates and thrills us. Mr. Stevenson is known for a master of style, and never has he shown his resources more remarkably than on this occasion. We do not mean that the book is written in excellent English—that must be a matter of course; but he has weighed his words and turned his sentences so as to sustain and excite throughout the sense of mystery and of horror. The mere artful use of an “it” for a “he” may go far in that respect, and Mr. Stevenson has carefully chosen his language and missed no opportunity. And if his style is good, his motive is better, and shows a higher order of genius. . . . With no formal preaching and without a touch of Pharisaism he works out the essential power of Evil, which, with its malignant patience and unwearying perseverance, gains ground with each casual yielding to temptation, till the once well-meaning man may actually become a fiend, or at least wear the reflection of the fiend’s image. But we have said enough to show our opinion of the book, which should be read as a finished study in the art of fantastic literature.
Not every critic was enamored of the book. The Birmingham Daily Post of January 19, 1886, said “the attempt which is made here to unite strange men—the strangeness of a Frankenstein story or an old Greek myth—with modern science, leaves no stranger impression on the mind than a sense of ingenuity of the writer. One thrills before the ghost in ‘Hamlet’ or the weird sisters in ‘Macbeth,’ for one believes in them; we only smile in the presence of Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for we know they are a mere clever invention.”
Excerpted from the Foreword, by Leslie Klinger, to The New Annotated Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Published by Mysterious Press. Copyright, 2022. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
(1) Technically, of course, neither Holmes nor Dracula were yet members—Holmes’s first appearance in print would take place a year later, in A Study in Scarlet, Dracula’s not until 1897.
(2) David Daiches, the author of Robert Louis Stevenson and His World (New York: Scribner’s, 1977), in his article on Stevenson for the Encyclopædia Britannica.
(3) But see the discussion of RLS’s “Deacon Brodie” and “Markheim,” below, for his earlier interest in the theme.
(4) Walter Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1957), 394–95.
(5) By 1868, he began calling himself “Louis” instead of “Lewis” and, after 1873, he dropped “Balfour” from his signature.
(6) Henley, who had a wooden leg, was said to be the model for the pirate Long John Silver, the villain of Treasure Island (1883).
(7) See text accompanying note 13, below.
(8) This trip was the basis for the first of his many travel books, An Inland Voyage (1878).
(9) Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez, The Life of Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920), 51.
(10) The remark is in a letter to Sidney Colvin, written after RLS settled in Samoa: “Remember the pallid brute that lived in ‘Skerryvore’ like a weevil in a biscuit . . .”
(11) In 1899, as RLS predicted, Germany and the United States carved up Samoa between themselves.
(13) His schoolmate H. Bellyse Baildon recollected in his Robert Louis Stevenson: A Life Study in Criticism (London: Chatto & Windus, 1901), “One of these occasions I do distinctly remember, on which Stevenson was brimful of the story of ‘Deacon Brodie,’ and I believe he then read to me, probably in 1864, portions of a proposed drama on the subject.”
(14) See Rick Wilson’s The Man Who Was Jekyll and Hyde: The Lives and Crimes of Deacon Brodie (Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2015) and https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-31018496.
(15) The play had its London premiere on July 2, 1884, and had a modestly successful run, sufficient to motivate RLS to consider further dramas. The play had some success in America, where it was more popular than in England, and Henley’s brother Edward played the lead role in many productions.
(16) The 1888 edition was from the Edinburgh University Press; Three Plays was published by David Nutt.
(17) Published by T. Fisher Unwin in December 1885. The story was revised slightly when RLS included it in The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables in 1887.
(18) The first English translation was published in 1885.
(19) In her Robert Louis Stevenson: A Life Study (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 221–22.
(20) Unease at compromising his Bohemian ideals, that is.
(21) See note171, below.
(22) Earlier in the essay, RLS explains the workings of what he refers to as the “Little People” or his “Brownies,” the unconscious mind of the artist: “Who are the Little People? They are near connections of the dreamer’s, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries and have an eye to the bank-book; they share plainly in his training; they have plainly learned like him to build the scheme of a considerate story and to arrange emotion in progressive order; only I think they have more talent; and one thing is beyond doubt, they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim. . . . [T]he Little People . . . do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself.”
(23) The essay appears in Scribner’s in January 1888 and in book form in Across the Plains with Other Memories and Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1892).
(24) Both stories are told in the fine biography of RLS written by his cousin Graham Balfour, The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson (London: Methuen and Co., 1901), 12–14.
(25) Malcolm Elwin, The Strange Case of Robert Louis Stevenson (London: Macdonald & Co., 1950), 202, and William Veeder, “The Texts in Question,” in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after One Hundred Years, eds. William R. Veeder and Gordon Hirsch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 9-11.
(26) See Christopher Frayling’s wonderful Nightmare: The Birth of Horror (London: BBC Books, 1996).
(27) This is RLS’s own estimate, given in a letter dated March 1, 1886, to F. W. H. Myers. In an interview that appeared in the June 8, 1888, San Francisco Examiner, he stated: “As to the novel, I think I occupied about six weeks, or something like that, in writing it. The draft I made in three days.”
(28) RLS apparently knew of this decision early on, for in a letter to Sidney Colvin, probably written in late September or early October 1885, he reported, “I am pouring forth a penny (12 penny) dreadful;”—also known as a “shilling shocker”—“it is dam dreadful; they call it . . . Doctor Jekyll, but they also call it Mr Hyde, Mr Hyde, but they also, also call it Mr Hyde. I seem to bloom by nature—oh, by nature, into song; but for all my tale is silly it shall not be very long.”
(29) Letter to F. W. H. Myers, with whom RLS shared some literary friends. Myers wrote detailed suggestions for revising what he saw as weak points of the book, hoping to help secure what he predicted would be a high ranking in English literature.
(30) A London weekly newspaper founded in 1855, not to be confused with the American Saturday Review of Literature, founded in 1924.