I can only imagine what would have happened had Robert Louis Stevenson not had an excellent memory.
This classic has probably been read or the movies seen by more folks than just about any other classic going! Just imagine, this historic gem was almost lost to us all!
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 horror classic is the sort of book other novelists go nuts over. It’s spawned movies, unofficial sequels, and academic essays. Yet the version we read is only a remake. In 1885, Stevenson finished his original tale, only for his wife Fanny to turn it into a bonfire.
At the time, Stevenson was crippled by tuberculosis, whacked out on cocaine, and probably half-mad. So when he showed Fanny this insane story and declared it his masterpiece, she assumed he’d truly gone nuts. She thought the book would ruin his reputation and destroy them financially, so she torched it to convince Stevenson to write something better instead.
Had the author been even fractionally less committed to his idea, that probably would have been the end of one (or two?) of literature’s greatest characters. But Stevenson was nothing if not dedicated. Over the next three days, he rewrote the 30,000-word manuscript from memory, presumably while also making sure his wife kept well away from matches.
We can all be thankful that Mr. Stevenson, sick or not, was of sound enough mind to re-write this wonderful story. Long will it be remembered.
Coffee out on the patio this morning...and boy, do I need it!