STEVENSON, Robert Louis Balfour (1850-94), Scottish novelist, essayist, and poet, who
contributed several classics to the world of children's literature.
Stevenson was born on Nov. 13, 1850, in Edinburgh, the
son of an engineer, and studied engineering and then law at the University of Edinburgh.
Stevenson suffered from tuberculosis and often
traveled abroad in search of more healthful climates. His earliest works are
descriptions of his journeys: An Inland Voyage (1878), describing
a canoe trip through Belgium
and France in 1876; and Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), an account
of a journey on foot through mountains in southern France in 1878. Subsequent travels
took him by immigrant ship and train to California
(1879-80), where in 1880he married Frances Osbourne; across the South Pacific
on a pleasure cruise (1889); and finally to Samoa
(1889), where he and his wife settled (1889-94) in a final effort to restore
his health. He died in Samoa on Dec. 3, 1894,
and was buried on a mountaintop behind Vailima, his Samoan home.
Stevenson's popularity is based primarily on
the exciting subject matter of his adventure novels and stories of the
fantastic. Treasure Island (1883), a swiftly
paced story of a search for buried gold, portrays good, in the form of the boy
Jim and his friends, against evil, as personified by the pirate Pew and the one-legged
Long John Silver.
In the horror story The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the
extremes of good and evil traits in one character when the
physician Henry Jekyll discovers a drug that changes him, first at will and
later involuntarily, into the monster Hyde.
Other high-adventure stories include The Black Arrow (1888) and The Master of Ballantrae (1889).
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.
The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder, where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality. In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.