The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a dark and psychological tale, the first to introduce the idea of the split personality in literature.
The book took its inspiration from the duality of Edinburgh as a city, and from the real case of Deacon Brodie, a respectable man who had a secret life as a criminal.
The story takes place in Victorian London, though the setting is often said to more closely resemble Edinburgh. Stevenson wrote the first draft in less than three days after being inspired by a dream. However, he burnt it and rewrote it in a week after his wife suggested that the story was really an allegory.
Jekyll and Hyde was an immediate success after its release and it remains one of Stevenson’s best-selling works. Stevenson tells the story of a respectable gentleman, Dr Henry Jekyll, who battles between the good and evil within himself. As a way to repress his evil urges, he creates a potion which transforms him into the cruel Edward Hyde.
The story has come to be seen as a representation of the inner conflict of humanity’s sense of good and evil and the popularity of the book has inspired comic book heroes such as The Hulk, as well as stage and screen adaptations, including over 100 film versions.
Jekyll and Hyde also featured as the second One Book _ One Edinburgh reading campaign in 2008 which aimed to bring Edinburgh’s residents together to read a classic Scottish story. Like the previous campaign, free books were handed out throughout Edinburgh through schools, libraries and reading groups. There was also a graphic novel produced by Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy, the minds behind the Kidnapped graphic novel in 2007. Events were held over the space of ten days, including poetry readings, film screenings, exhibitions and guided tours.