Robert Louis Stevenson began writing during the Victorian era. His style was unlike anyone else's and his stories are still popular today. Robert Louis Stevenson was an author of many classic novels and his literary success became popular when he wrote the mystery called The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886 at the young age of thirty-six. He was born on November 13, 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father Thomas, was a builder of lighthouses. His mother Margaret came from a family of lawyers and church ministers. Robert chose not to follow in either of his parent's footsteps. Instead, writing became his passion. Robert's childhood was plagued with sickness and fever with symptoms of tuberculosis. As a result, regular schooling became difficult, (Cyclopedia of World Authors, 1927). According to Magills Survey of World Literature Stevenson didn't learn to read until he was 7 years old, but he enjoyed stories told to him by his father of adventure.
This enabled Robert's imagination to grow and he created his own tales. His father was proud of him, but afraid his only son would not succeed in life. His father suggested law school just incase his writing did not succeed. He graduated, but he never practiced law, (1854). Instead, he wanted to travel for adventure and to find good health.
Robert Louis Stevenson began his travels in 1870. In the Life and Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, written by Richard Dury, Dury claims Stevenson first went to France, where he met Fanny Osbourne, an American lady. Stevenson traveled all throughout France, which inspired him to write An Inland Voyage, his first published work. His career as a writer developed slowly, but he continued to have a keen eye for human observation. His own insight into the nature of mankind and human suffering are displayed in his works. The Amateur Emigrant (published in 1894) and The Silverado Squatters (published in 1883) were stories written as a result of his journey to California to marry Fanny. Stevenson traveled back to Scotland after suffering a near death illness in Monterey, (http://www.unibg.it/rls/bio.htm. pg. 1 of 5). It was in the year 1883, he wrote one of his greatest novels, Treasure Island, after playing an imaginary game with his stepson, (Cyclopedia of World Authors, 1928). Stevenson's experiences and his imagination inspired his writings, but other writers also affected him.
Stevenson had many good friends who were influential in his life. Sidney Colvin was a critic and a mentor to Stevenson and would review his works with praise. Colvin reviewed Stevenson's book, An Inland Voyage, in 1878, and claimed the author is a " brilliant and entertaining writer" with "both gifts and promise," as cited by Harris and Fitzgerald in Nineteenth- Century Literature Criticism, (386-387). Henry James was truly Stevenson's closest friend and admirer, as stated in a critical essay written in 1887 by James, where he defends Stevenson's writing from Mr. Archer. James says, "Mr. Stevenson's jauntiness is essential to his genius." ( Harris, Laurie & Fitzgerald, Shelia; Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism, 401-403). Though critics praised Stevenson for his works, his books did not support him financially, until he wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While in California, Stevenson became ill and his father would send him money. He helped support Stevenson until his success of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, This success gave him a contract with Charles Scribner's Son's in 1887, (Encyclopedia Britannica 240). That same year his father died leaving Stevenson his inheritance. He used the money to finance a trip to Samoa to better his health. In later years, he and his wife built their own home on the island of Upolu. He quickly became involved in local politics. It would soon take up all of his time (Magill, Frank; Magill's Survey 1855-56). On December 3, 1894 Robert Louis Stevenson died of a cerebral hemorrhage, not from tuberculosis. During his last years his writing style matured, (Magill, Frank; Cyclopedia of World Authors 1928) and he became a well-known author of his time.
Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novels are still popular today, because his writing style is direct and creative. He writes for the reader's imagination and "not in the critical pantheon" (Magill's Survey 1856). His themes are adventure stories, ex; Treasure Island and Kidnapped and mystery novels, ex; The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Henry James' essay written in 1887 claims "for the most part Stevenson's books are without women and it is not women who fall in love with them". According to Magill's Survey of World Literature, Stevenson is a "moralist." His novels always seem to examine themes of what is right and what is wrong, as well as, good verses evil in the character of mankind. He tells his stories with a "deceptive straightforwardness" and with "vividness of the incidents, and fascinating complexity of the character's personalities" (1857). Stevenson's stories are told by a narrator(s) who introduce the reader to the main character. We learn about the "complex personality" of the main character and his life through a third person. The protagonist is always on an adventure through life struggling with moral issues, (Magill's Survey 1857). Stevenson's work The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the most successful example of Stevenson's style, and yet it is very different from his other stories by the very nature of its theme.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886. It is a mystery novel and is still one of the most exciting books to read today. Stevenson developed his idea for the story when he had a nightmare. According to Magill's Survey, his wife woke him up when he was having a nightmare. The next day he wrote down everything that he had dreamt. He remembered it so well that he wrote the story in three days. When it was published in America it lead to his financial freedom and established him as an author, (1853).
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the story about a man who poses as two different people. Two men Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield walk through the city of London on every Sunday, but as they were walking they heard a scream from a from a little girl in one of the houses. The house belonged to Mr. Hyde. The city forced Mr. Hyde to pay some fines for his crimes. Then a well-respected man, Dr. Jekyll paid the fines to everyone's surprise. Mr. Utterson is suspicious about this whole ordeal so he goes to Mr. Hyde's house and tries to talk to him, but Mr. Hydes runs inside. He then goes around the block to Dr. Jekyll's house and talks to the butler and finds out that Mr. Hyde has complete access to Dr. Jekyll's house. Some time later a man is murdered and a maid identifies the murderer as Mr. Hyde. Utterson and the police go to Mr. Hyde's apartment and discover a letter that says he is gone for good, and even Dr. Jekyll tells the police that he is done with Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll becomes suspicious and tries to avoid Mr. Utterson. Later Dr. Jekyll's servant suspects that Dr. Jekyll's has been murdered, because he hasn't come out of the laboratory for along time. Mr. Utterson then breaks into Dr. Jekyll's laboratory to find that Mr. Hyde was lying dead on the floor. They search for Dr. Jekyll in the whole building but don't find him anywhere. Mr. Utterson reads a letter from Dr. Lanyon that reveals that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the same person. Dr.Jekyll believed that every person has two or more different personalities. With this thought he began experimenting with chemical combinations and he had conducted a mixture which he drank and turned himself into the mean and repulsive Mr. Hyde. In the story, Dr. Lanyon describes Mr. Hyde as an image of "disgustful curiosity," "ludicrous accouterment," "abnormal and misbegotten creature." (Stevenson, Robert Louis. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 71). With this secret he could do whatever bad things he wished to do. When Mr. Hyde murdered Sir Danvers Carew, Dr. Jekyll tried to hide the Mr. Hyde in him. One day Mr. Hyde realized that he couldn't change back into Dr. Jekyll because his chemicals were not working, so he commits suicide. That's why Mr. Utterson finds him dead in the laboratory. Dr. Jeykll's full statement in the last chapter reveals his story and how he lived with his evil personality until the death.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a "supernatural" story combined with "mystery and horror" about the double personality in man. He "evolves his story from the world that is unseen," (Harris, Laurie. Nineteenth Century Lit 393). Mr. Utterson, Mr. Enfield and even Dr. Lanyon unfold the mystery of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as being one man living two personalities. Fielder's essay on Stevenson's work writes that it is a "dream allegorized into a morality," "the two natures of man that contend in the consciousness", but it is "a tragedy, too obviously colored with easy terror to be completely convincing" (435). "The London Times" in 1886 declares The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to be an "original genius," (398).
Robert Louis Stevenson was a genius. He was an author who demonstrates eloquence in his style of writing and creativity and imagination in his story themes. One hundred years later Stevenson's stories are part of our history of classic novels that are read by all.